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Project (or case) sites on Sharepoint Online

    Question

  • I am looking for a possibility to archive emails on a sharepoint online sites.

    I know that now Micosoft is going to remove possibility to add mailbox to a site. This will affect probably many companies, who were using Sharepoint as project managment tool.

    For sure Office365 groups will not hepl becase the single user can create only 250 groups (so I  understand 250 cases (projects)

    Someone may say that we need to purchase Microsoft Project Online, but we do not need complicated stuf with many options.

    Besides we do not have projects. We have simple cases where we need to keep on a site some files and emails linked to this case.

    So we even we do not need a real mailbox with email addres. We need a mail repository, where the users could add all emails linked to a case.

    I know that we could keep emails as files and then could keep them on separate file library (per site). But we also need to search and view emails. 

    It would be good also if we could synchronise some site email folders in Outlook What would enable us to make easy emails moving from individual mailbox to a site mailbox/repository.

    I wander if we could use Exchange public folders for such task. I mean place a link on a Sharepoinnt site directing us to a particular Exchange public folder.   


     

     


    Saturday, February 18, 2017 7:35 PM

All replies

  • Hi Marek,

    What did you by “emails linked to a case”? How did you want to make the emails linked to a case?

    If you want to be able to search the emails, you can use SharePoint OOTB search function to achieve this goal.

    For synchronizing the email in Outlook, you may need to create a custom solution to achieve this goal as library is not supported to sync to Outlook.

    If this is not what you want, please provide more details about your requirement.

    Best Regards,

    Victoria

    Please remember to mark the replies as answers if they help.
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    Monday, February 20, 2017 11:45 AM
    Moderator
  • Hi Victoria,

    I am very glad to have a chance to talko to someone from Microsoft.

    Recently I spent a lot of time to study possibility tu use Sharepoint ion our organizaction, which is very typical sales/production company. Therefore I suppose that our expectation from SharePoint is very typical.

    In our work we need to create so called cases (or let call it easier Projects). A case would be for example a chacge to sell someting, which later may change to an order. On project (case) site more than one person usually work and sometimes the case is taken over by other people.

    What we expect from Sharepoint is to have possibility to create a site, where we can insert and edit any informaction about particular project/case. Among this information are files, notes, task and other matters as well as emails (related to project).

    And here is a problem! Everything what Sharepoint is offering satisfy us very much, but recently we have learned that Microsoft is goint to remove (in March) possibility to attach mailbox to a site.

    This is extremely bad information for us, because we cannot imagine work without possibility to have mails attached to a case/project site.

    We started to study Microsoft project, believing that there will be possible to keep emails. But also there we cannot do it. 

     

    The reason, as we undestand, is that such emails mamy create "too big traffic" on Microsoft servers. Maybe can, but what many companies may do now if they for long time were using site mailboxes?

    Frankly saying we (and probably many other companies) do not need site mailboxes, wee need to have just some mail repository, to which any site user could move (manulally by e.g. Drag&Drop) his project related mails from his own mailbox.

    In this case in a project site we would have all information related to particular project (files, notes, emails, tasks, calendars etc.).

    I know that even now user may move the email to a site file library, but this way is so primitive that no one would be ready to do so.

    Now it is not possible to move directly a mail to such library. A first the user needs to save a mail to local computer folder and then from this folder he has to move mail (in mean file) to a particular Sharepoint file library.

    But even if we would accept this primitive function, then still we have problem with searching mails. We do not see much metadata and we need to open each mail to see content. As we checked, no one here is ready to work with such primitive tool.

    What we then can do here? Is Micosoft going to give some repacement for mailboxes? Whart about companies, which were creating projects?

    And here after long study I see that there would be some simle solutions. By doing small efforts Microsoft could have emails site repository, which does not create any additional traffic. 

    Actually as we know we can create a shared mailboxes. And these mailboxes can have url address. So we can attach link to a project site, which enable us to display a mailbox (in OWA for example). I tried it and mus t say that it works wanderful! In OWA I see only this one shared mailbox and nothing more (what is very good). But of course there are some problems here:

    1. As I learned, it is not possible to have more than 10 such shared mailboxes

    2. The maiboxes have to be created by Office365 admin (which is not good because daily there may be several projects oppened by other people. 

    We have tried to use groups office 365 as project sites. It looks as groups have everything what is needed). But here the emails do not work as mails repository. It is not possible to move a mail from private maibox to a group mail folder. So here groups cannot help. Besides we have learned that an user cannot create more than 250 groups. As we have now over 2 000 cases (projects) the limit for creating groups is too low.

    I must say that I have third potential solution, which would work perfectly and would not create any big programming efforts. 

    There would be only few things needed to do:

    1. Giving to each Exchange public folder an url link (as to Shared mailboxes).

    2. Making possible to display partlicular exchange public folder by displaying it in OWA (or maybe even as window in classic Sharepoint site)

    3. Possiblility to create exchange public folder from withing sharepoint site (with giving to such public folder permissions the same as are on the site). 

    This would give users (I believe) perfect way of working with emails in sharepoint). The site "mailbox" would have also own email address (becase public folder have already own email address).

     Advantages:

    1. Emails stay in Exchange and are not moved to SharePoint. From SharePoint we could only initiate OWA/Outlook to dispaly particular public folder. In fact groups Office365 emails also are not located in Sharepoint.

    2. There would be easy possibility to search via emails with all tools, which are on OWA or Outlook

    3. Users could work with emails from Sharepoint as well as from Outlook

    4. Displaying public forlder in Ourtlook gives excellent tools for searching mails, sorting filtering etc. 

    Disadvantages:

    1. Some companies would have to buy Exchange (what is in fact extra profit for Microsoft)

    2. User could not work with such "emails library" like in Sharepoint library. But with groups office 365 emails also they cannnot.

     

    Pelase kindly tell us what we can expect. If we do not find any way of storing mails in SharePioint, we will have to look for some other solution (I mean form another company). I hope we do not need to do so.

     

                 

     

    Monday, February 20, 2017 1:12 PM
  • Hi Marek,

    Regarding one of your solutions with Shared Mailbox, here are some information about your concerns:

    1. As far as I know, shared mailbox has only 5 GB storage limitation without license, and you can create as many shared mailbox as you want.

    2.Yes only Exchange administrators are allowed to create shared mailbox in Office 365. As my experience, you can create a simple web page or just use a SharePoint list to collect the shared mailbox creation tasks, and in the backend, run a PowerShell script to perform the tasks automatically. The script can be running in a server with administrator permission. In this way, the shared mailbox creation can be converted to be a self-service for others. You may also set the shared mailbox creation tasks to be approved by someone before they are performed.

    I think it would be an easy way to manage your cases(projects). Feel free to reply back if you need any further information.

    Thanks,
    Reken Liu


    TechNet Community Support
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    Friday, February 24, 2017 7:35 AM
    Owner
  • Hi Reken

    Thank you for your valuable information.

    I understand from your mail that each shared mailbox has 5GB limitation (which is usually much than enough for even larger project). The second what you say is that we can create as much mailboxes as we want. 

    In general then it looks as there are some chances to work with these mailboxes, however it is still very primitive tool and should not be threaten as typical way of working with projects. 

    Microsoft has removed possibility to add mailboxes to a site. This is killing possibility to work  with projects (cases) and I wander if Microsoft is going to replace it with something else.

    The way described by you has a number of disadvantages  and it cannot be used as standard tool for (I believe) thousands of companies working with projects.

    Disadvantages are as follows:

    1. It is not possible to automatise creation of a project site, which has also email library (emails repository only would be enough)

    2. As I see we would have to create mailboxes outside SharePoint.

    3. There is no way to control permission to mailbox from Sharepoint

    3. Shared Mailbox is quite complicated stuff (having inbox, outbox, deleted etc folders) and needs definitely many respurces. I do not mind it but I believe for repositories in is enough to have just mails folder. (Something like Exchange public folders). 

    4. But the biggest problem is that that if there are several thousands projects and in each project there is a mailbox then user in his Outlook (not OWA) has several thousands mailboxes and these mailboxes cannot be placed in any hierarchy (like for example exchange public folder). I believe that opening Outlook with thousands of mailboxes will be time consuming process and it will not be easy to find (scroll) list of such large number od mailboxes.

    And solution would be here very easy and would be working based on exiting stuff:

    Possibility to access (in OWA) a particular exchange (online) public folder. I mean to display in OWA onlu one folder. This mean attaching to a public folder an url address.

    Any user who would have an access to a public folder would be abble to create new subfolder. And then on his Sharepoint site he could place a link to this public subfolder. This is all the companies working with projects would need. Of course any additional fuctionalities would be here welcome (for example possibility to create a public folder from Sharepoint and possibility to control permission.

    But I am someway pessimist about it becasue:

    1. As I heard, Microsoft is thinking about abandoning public folders (this excellent tool)

    2. Microsoft was already removing mailboxes from Sharepoint.

    3. There is no any talking what we can get in replacement of it.

    Any comment would be here welcome. I asked here two local Microsoft partners and no one could answer us what will be future about project sites (in regards of storing emails related to project)

       

     

             

     

    Friday, February 24, 2017 8:20 AM
  • Hi Marek,

    First I would like to share my comments about the disadvantages you listed for shared mailboxes.

    #1. It is not possible to automatise creation of a project site, which has also email library (emails repository only would be enough)

    Yes, a shared mailbox never provides an email library in SharePoint sites, instead, you could add a link to OWA for accessing emails stored in shared mailboxes.

    #2. As I see we would have to create mailboxes outside SharePoint.

    As I mentioned in the last reply, shared mailboxes can be created by PowerShell triggered by a Windows task, and the task can read the creation request information from a SharePoint List. It's not out of box, but could be easy to be implemented.

    #3. There is no way to control permission to mailbox from SharePoint.

    You can use similar way as #2 to manage the shared mailboxes permissions.

    #4. But the biggest problem is that that if there are several thousands projects and in each project there is a mailbox then user in his Outlook (not OWA) has several thousands mailboxes and these mailboxes cannot be placed in any hierarchy (like for example exchange public folder). I believe that opening Outlook with thousands of mailboxes will be time consuming process and it will not be easy to find (scroll) list of such large number od mailboxes.

    I don't think someone would be involved into thousands of projects at the same time. When you grant permission of shared mailboxes to users, there is a parameter named "auto mapping", and you can set it to true or false to decide each shared mailbox would be opened directly in certain user's Outlook.

    I understand the workaround is not an ideal solution for your requirements. According to the message center, the replacement of site mailboxes is Office 365 Groups. Due to the limitation, it may not work for you. If you prefer to use Public folders, please consider some programming work to add the public folder access in a SharePoint add-in. Here is a link about accessing public folder with EWS: https://msdn.microsoft.com/library/office/jj945067(v=exchg.150).aspx

    Actually Office 365 has exposed a lot of APIs for users to develop custom solutions. You may also consider to build your own solution based on Office 365 APIs. Hope it helps.

    Thanks,
    Reken Liu


    TechNet Community Support
    Please remember to mark the replies as answers if they help, and unmark the answers if they provide no help. If you have feedback for TechNet Support, contact tnmff@microsoft.com.

    Monday, February 27, 2017 10:28 AM
    Owner
  • Hi Reken,

    Your answer seems to be very interesting to us, however we did not tried yet EWS methods.

    It looks interesting way of programmatically manipulating data but still I do not see there any way to display particular public folder in Outlook or Exchange, what is here most important.

    It would be very good to have some link in Sharepoint (or a shortcut), which would display a particular public folder (preferably in Outlook or if not possible in OWA)

    Do you see any chance to do such task?

    Marek Staniewski  

     

      

    Tuesday, February 28, 2017 7:34 AM