What You Need to Know Before Integrating OneDrive with Active Directory & Exchange

Looking to integrate OneDrive for Business with Active Directory and Exchange? First, we'll have to take a look into the role of a mail administrator's life: 

Joe is a traditional Microsoft Exchange administrator, and he manages interesting user behavior and business challenges on a daily basis. For example, Joe has to field questions like:

  • Why can’t I email the contents of my entire hard drive to my account and access them from home?
  • I dragged-and-dropped all of my documents into my email in order to back it up and now my mail seems slow. What should I do?
  • I don’t trust you to store my mail. Is it okay if I deliver to PST on a cheap external USB drive?
  • I want to report on [insert unrealistic parameter here]. Could you get that for me before lunch today? 

While it may seem funny, administrators like Joe have to deal with these types of questions all the time, and it doesn’t help that IT is often depicted as a “black box” to most business users. Unfortunately, it’s a complicated world for an Exchange administrator. Joe eats Kerberos tokens for breakfast, balances a DAG for lunch, and reads event logs late at night as bedtime reading. 

Understanding Common OneDrive for Business Requests 

To most companies, email is often taken for granted. It’s rendered on nearly every device with both desktop and mobile options, and it serves as the primary vessel through which most internal communication takes place. It’s the catch-all for everything and it just>works—or at least until it doesn’t. 

Let’s imagine that one day, Joe’s manager walks in and makes two requests: 

  1. “Joe, move our data into Exchange Online.”
  2. “We want to get rid of public folders, shared mailboxes, and other stuff as much as possible. Move to OneDrive for Business so we can access our data at any time on any device.”  

On the one hand, the relatively easy request for Joe is the Exchange Online migration. When licensed correctly, Office 365 features (like OneDrive for Business) automatically become available for users without much administrator intervention. 

On the other hand, there are a few things that Joe needs to know to properly take on his manager’s second request.  

Take Advantage of the Office 365 Roadmap 

First, Joe should realize that Office 365 is an evergreen platform. Compared to 3-year release cycles with information being revealed at Microsoft Ignite, Microsoft has changed its release cadence dramatically. Now, the Office 365 Roadmap contains updates for both users and administrators. In this way, admins have the ability to join First Release and personally preview new updates. 

Recognize OneDrive’s Multiple Features 

Second, he needs to acknowledge that OneDrive can be seen as a collective term. It encapsulates OneDrive for Business, OneDrive for consumers, and OneDrive as part of Office 365 Groups and other collaborative platforms that feature a OneDrive component. In some instances, OneDrive can actually be interpreted as a document library that is shared with members of the group. All in all, OneDrive serves many different functions depending on the consumer. 

Utilize Modern Attachments 

Finally, Joe should know that OneDrive can be used “automatically,” as with Modern Attachments. Modern Attachments allows Outlook 2016 to send attachments after setting the appropriate view and edit permissions based on the recipient’s email address. Files can also be quickly saved to OneDrive. 

What About Public Folders and Distributions Groups? 

Admins inevitably have too many Public Folders and Distributions Groups. Enter Office 365 Groups. It not only acts like a distribution list, it also serves as a public folder. Office 365 Groups are good news for mail users who want to access it on Outlook as well. 

What About Permissions? 

As far as Joe is concerned, everything we’ve discussed so far seems to happen magically, as he hasn’t had to set up anything OneDrive-related yet. In fact, he doesn’t even need to live in the world of SharePoint permissions! He’ll have to worry about permissions when he sets up the first SharePoint Library (but that’s a topic for another day). 


In the end, Joe hasn’t had to learn a lot of skills since a few migration activities between Public Folders and Office 365 Groups may be achieved using Outlook. The life of an Exchange administrator is not always easy, but with the right resources and tools, integrating OneDrive with Active Directory and Exchange can be hassle-free. 

If you’ve been challenged with impossible tasks that require heavy lifting, let Metalogix software be your answer. We’re happy to help move your content securely and guarantee smooth sailing, no matter what your manager requests of you.  

Check out Metalogix Essentials for Office 365 for free and connect with one of our experts today!

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