This post is part of the Office 365 External Sharing Series

Extranets are dead – supposed to. If not – why not? In my recent client engagements and also in my O365 Saturday sessions, the word “Extranet for Partners” / “External Sharing with Vendors” is a great session kick-off and it helps me in engaging the audience instantly and helps elicit lessons learnt, pain points and the financial impact of maintaining this white elephant in the room.

It is true to date that external sharing of content with partners, vendors, etc. – people who work with your corporate employees – was either via email (not secure) or setting up extranet infrastructure ($$$). Some of the challenges / pain points in setting up extranet:

  • Partners may not have infrastructure to configure and manage federation with clients
  • Complexity around managing multiple federation relationships with multiple partners.
  • Difficulty in compliance due to limited user visibility

In this day and age of digital workplace transitioning the information workloads in the cloud  – large number of small to medium business and enterprises are embracing Microsoft Office 365 Services. And as a result of this are getting the basic version of Azure AD! That, my dear reader, is your gateway to External Sharing with people who with you from outside your organisation.

With your basic Azure AD, you can be enabling external sharing with some of the benefits listed here:

  • Azure AD B2B allows partner managed identities to access your corporate applications like SharePoint Online without having to manage the identity itself.
  • Azure AD provides a single point for federation where each user has a single Azure AD account.
  • Azure AD also allows non federated business partners to sign up for Azure AD accounts

In the following blog posts, I will cover different methods for inviting external users, once you have enabled external sharing – at different levels with security controls – in your Azure AD and Office 365 tenancy.

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