The Top 5 Benefits of Azure Active Directory

Are you looking for a comprehensive identity management solution? If so, Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) may be the perfect option for you. Azure AD is a cloud-based service that provides identity and access management for your business. It offers a variety of features and benefits that can help improve security, simplify management, and reduce costs. Azure AD is the technology that allows organizations to connect their on-premises Active Directory to Azure to provide a single sign-on (SSO) experience for their users. 

There are many benefits of using Azure AD, but in this blog post, we will focus on what we see as the top 5 benefits:

1. Increased security and compliance

With Azure AD, you can implement robust security measures to protect your data and meet compliance requirements. Azure AD provides features such as multi-factor authentication and conditional access that can help you secure your data and comply with industry regulations. 

Azure AD can also help you meet your compliance needs by providing comprehensive reporting and auditing capabilities. You can use Azure AD to: 

  • Enforce strong authentication policies 
  • Restrict access to sensitive data 
  • Monitor user activity 
  • Generate reports on user activity 

Azure AD can be used to secure on-premises applications and resources, as well as cloud-based applications and resources. These features can help you keep your data safe and comply with industry regulations.

2. Single Sign-On (SSO) and multi-factor authentication (MFA)

Azure AD helps improve security by providing Single Sign-On (SSO) and multi-factor authentication (MFA) – making it easy to manage user identities and access control. SSO allows users to access all their applications with one set of credentials. This can help improve security by reducing the number of passwords that users must remember. MFA provides an additional layer of security by requiring users to confirm their identity with a second factor, such as a phone call or text message. 

Azure AD also enables administrators to manage user identities and roles, as well as configure security settings for their organizations. Azure AD offers a variety of security features, such as password policies and activity monitoring, that can help you keep your users and your data safe.

3. Central Management of Applications and Users

Azure AD can simplify management by providing a central location to manage all your users and applications. You can use Azure AD to create and manage user accounts, assign permissions, and control access to applications. Azure AD also provides a self-service password reset feature that can help reduce IT support costs since password resets are the number one help desk request.

4. Reduced costs

Azure AD is a cost-effective solution that helps organizations save time and money by simplifying your IT infrastructure. Azure AD is its pay-as-you-go pricing model. With this pricing model, you only pay for what you use, which can be a great way to save money on your Azure AD deployment. 

Azure AD also reduces cost by eliminating the need for on-premises infrastructure. This can help save you money on licensing as well as support since cloud-based services are more cost-effective for third parties to support for you.

5. Increased flexibility and scalability

Azure AD is a cloud-based service. This makes Azure AD highly scalable, so it is easy to grow your user base as your business needs change. It also means if your company is moving more toward hybrid work, then Azure AD services will be delivered to your users with great performance no matter where they may be. No need to manage a complex virtual private network (VPN) to get users onto the same network as the on-premises AD instance. 

Azure Active Directory is a comprehensive identity, application, and resource management solution that offers broad features and benefits. If you are looking for an identity management solution that is well-proven and has connectivity to a broad range of applications and services, Azure AD may be the right option for you. 

While powerful, Azure AD is still a bit unapproachable by most users. This is where our team of experts at Montra can help. We offer a variety of software and services, including our own software, Montra VIA, which leverages Azure AD to provide easy to leverage workforce and application management capabilities to companies of any size. Email us at to learn more about how we can help you with your identity management needs. 

Microsoft OneDrive – Eight Ways to Get the Most from It

When it comes to file storage and sharing, there are a lot of different options out there. Microsoft OneDrive is a cloud-based storage and synchronization service offered by Microsoft. It allows users to store files in the cloud, share files with others, and sync files across devices. With its many features, it can be difficult to know how to get the most out of the service. In this post, we will cover topics such as best practices, how to share and sync across devices, restore files, and collaborate with others. 

Some of the best features of Microsoft OneDrive are: 

1. You can store up to 5GB of data for free: This is a great option for those who don’t want to pay for storage or who are just starting out and don’t have a lot of files to store. 

2. It integrates well with Microsoft Office programs: If you are a Microsoft Office user, OneDrive will integrate well with your programs and make it easy to save files to the cloud. You can also access your files from any device, including phones, tablets, and computers. 

3. You can share files and folders with others and set permissions: This is a great way to collaborate with others. You can give others access to specific files and folders, or you can share your entire OneDrive account with them. 

While there are many great features, there are also some potential downsides. The primary pain points customers have with OneDrive are: 

1. The Interface Can be Confusing 

This is especially true for those who are not familiar with Microsoft Office programs. Whether you’re migrating from another cloud-sharing service or starting from scratch, there are a number of onboarding tutorials your employees can use to become well-versed with OneDrive’s features. 

2. Syncing files between devices Can be Difficult to Setup 

This can be a problem if you have different devices, such as a phone and a computer, and you want to keep the files on both devices. The OneDrive app is the best way to sync all your files, but it can be confusing to setup and often requires a power user or IT administrator to get it going properly.

3. File and Folder Names are different between Mac and
Windows users 

This can be confusing for users who are used to the naming conventions of one OS or the other. OneDrive follows the naming rules for Windows devices and will stop a user who names a file incorrectly. 

  • Disallowed characters include: \, /, :, *, ?, “, ‘, <, >, | 

Assuming you are making the jump to OneDrive, here are eight helpful tips to get the most from it:

1. Use OneDrive on a Mobile Device 

If you are using Microsoft OneDrive on a mobile device, there are a few things you should keep in mind to get the most out of it. First, make sure you have the latest version of the OneDrive app installed on your device – either from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. Second, if you are going to be accessing your files offline, make sure you have enough storage space on your device to accommodate them. And finally, remember that you can always access your OneDrive files from any web browser by going to

2. Use OneDrive on a Mac or PC 

If you’re using a Mac or PC, you can access your OneDrive files by going to Simply sign in with your Microsoft account and you’ll be able to view, download, or upload your files. You can also access your OneDrive files from the OneDrive app for Mac or PC, which you can download from either the Apple App Store or the Microsoft website.

3. Save Files to OneDrive 

To save a file to your Microsoft OneDrive, simply open the file in its respective application (Word, Excel, etc.), and then choose OneDrive as the location to save it. That’s it! Now you can access your file from any device with an internet connection by going to from your browser.

4. Upload Files 

Uploading files to Microsoft OneDrive is easy! Simply open the OneDrive app and click on the “Upload Files” button in the sidebar. From there, you can select the files you want to upload from your computer. Once the upload is complete, you’ll be able to access your files from any device with an internet connection by going to

5. Sync Files Across Devices 

If you are using Microsoft OneDrive, you can easily sync your files across multiple devices. To do this, simply sign into your OneDrive account on each device. Once you are signed in, your OneDrive files will automatically sync across all your devices.

6. Collaborate with Others 

Share Files 

Sharing files with others is a breeze with Microsoft OneDrive. Simply select the file or folder you wish to share, and then click the “Share” button. From there, you can enter the email addresses of the people you want to share with and decide whether they can view or edit the file. You can also add a message to include with the invitation. 

Share Folders 

If you’re collaborating with others on a project, Microsoft OneDrive is a great way to keep everyone on the same page. To do this, simply share your OneDrive file or folder with the people you’re working with. Once they have access to the folder, they’ll be able to view or edit them from any device with an internet connection.

7. Restore Older Versions of a File 

If you make accidental changes to a file or want to look at an older version of a file, this is a great feature of Microsoft OneDrive! You can easily go back to up to 10 prior versions of your file. To do this on a Mac or PC, simply right-click on the filename and choose “Browse Version History”. Once drive will provide you with a list of the dates and time of prior versions of the file. Select one and it will be opened in the appropriate application to view and save.

8. Access Your OneDrive Files Offline 

If you need to access your OneDrive files while you’re offline, there’s no need to worry! Microsoft OneDrive App on your device automatically makes a local copy of your files on your device, so you can always access them even if you don’t have an internet connection. To access your offline files, simply go to the OneDrive app and look for the “Available offline” section. 

Microsoft OneDrive is a great way to sync and share your files across multiple devices. It’s easy to use and has a variety of features that make it a valuable tool for both personal and professional use. We listed just a few of the potential benefits of using Microsoft OneDrive. If you have any questions about how to use OneDrive or would like help implementing it in your business, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at

3 Reasons Why Microsoft Teams Matters

The shift to hybrid work has made Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) one of the fastest-growing technology sectors. In Q1 2021 the UCaaS user base grew by 46% from the first quarter of 2020 according to a recent Synergy Research Group report. 

UCaaS brings together voice and video calls, meetings, and messaging functionalities that a hybrid workforce requires on a platform that can be accessed from the cloud. It effectively delivers the collaboration and communication tools of their office to wherever they work. 

In looking at the UCaaS space, there is one product that is really shaking up the market right now. That is Microsoft Teams. We think there are three reasons for this: 

1. Teams is Now the Second Largest UCaaS App 

2. Identity for Teams is Deeply Integrated with Microsoft 365 

3. Built Like a Modern IT App, not an Aging Telecom System 

1. Teams is Now the Second Largest UCaaS App 

Microsoft Teams is the fastest-growing business application in Microsoft’s history. The usage of Teams has grown tremendously during the pandemic. As reported by the Business of Apps website, the daily active users for Teams expanded 894% during the first few months of the COVID-19 lockdown. 

Teams has rapidly established itself as the internal collaboration platform of preference for many businesses, becoming the new way to work for more than 145 million daily users. Many large organizations around the world are using Microsoft Teams: 124 organizations have more than 100,000 users of Teams, and nearly 3,000 organizations have over 10,000. 

In 2019 Microsoft’s Skype for Business had a negligible share of the UCaaS market. By integrating what is now called Teams Phone into Teams, it turns Teams into a powerful UCaaS platform for both internal and external communication. This has vaulted Microsoft’s UCaaS market position from outside the top five to number two in just 12 months, easily overtaking many established UCaaS providers. Included as part of the Microsoft 365 subscription, there’s no incremental cost for Teams Phone.  

For all these reasons, the growth of Teams Phone currently has no hindrances. 

2. Identity for Teams is Deeply Engrained with 365 

All of the Teams capabilities use the common user identity that is a part of Microsoft 365. This seemingly benign capability enables truly powerful unified communications experiences. 

This unified identify simplifies group work with multiple easy-to-use channels of communication from group chats to video seminars. Multiple teams groups can be set up in a click or two, organizing conversations – whether chat, voice, or video – to make them easier to follow, and notifications can be set to pop up on-screen. File sharing is also deeply integrated and the same identity that controls file access rights is also part of the Teams experience. 

Remote meetings that are as effective as being in-person 

  • PowerPoint Live in Microsoft Teams: Entirely new PowerPoint presenting experience exclusive to Microsoft Teams that benefits both presenters and attendees. As a presenter, you can lead meetings while having access to your speaker notes, slides, meeting chat, and participants. As attendees, you can view slides at your own pace and use Slide Translate to see the slides in your own language.
3. Built Like a Modern IT App, not an Aging Telecom System

Microsoft Teams is encroaching on the traditional territory of VoIP solution providers like Cisco, Avaya, and others. Microsoft partners are positioning Teams Phone as a way to replace an existing PBX system, or cut costs from more expensive VoIP providers. 

Built more like an IT Application than a telecom system, Teams make sit easy for your IT department and employees to work faster, smarter, and better together. Teams is designed with a simple and intuitive user interface, making it easy to learn for your employees. Administration of Teams is handled in an IT-friendly way that is familiar to IT professionals, who can often find traditional telephony services to be arcane and antiquated. 

This modern, IT-centric approach leads to some direct feature advantages for Teams Phone users. Calling, for instance, is integrated directly into the flow of devices and applications of modern workers. Enabling features such as: 

  • Easily transfer calls: Teams Phone now offers the ability for you to transfer a call from your computer to a mobile device or vice versa, without interrupting the call. 
  • Apple CarPlay: Apple CarPlay support for Teams enables users to join calls and meetings using your vehicle’s built-in controls or hands-free using Siri. 
  • “Better together” device experience: The “better together” experience means that Teams devices now complement each other, allowing users to answer a call, mute or unmute, and end the call on either the device or the Teams client. 
  • Spam call identification: Teams Phone uses advanced industry techniques to identify likely spam calls, allowing users to avoid unnecessary interruptions to your day by spam calls. 
  • Walkie-talkie for desk phones: Connect quickly with colleagues with a push-to-talk function available on desk phones. 

This IT centricity does not come at the expense of traditional telephony features and integrations including: 

  • Operator Connect: Operator Connect, enables customers to simply connect your operator-based public switched telephone network (PSTN) service into Teams with a managed experience, now extending the ability to enable PSTN calling in Teams to three great options. 
  • Teams Phone Calling Plans: Teams Phone Calling Plans offer a simple way to deploy calling in Teams without on-premises equipment, available in 33 markets. 
  • Bring Your Own Contact Center: Teams Phone integrates with your existing contact center solution, and Microsoft’s connected contact center program provides a new level of validation from rigorous third-party testing to ensure seamless and reliable integration. There are now 8 certified contact center solutions with an additional 14 in the certification process. 

For IT departments, Teams Phone eliminates complexity and cost of managing a legacy set of telephony systems and services from their operations. Replacing legacy on-premises phone systems with a UCaaS solution such as Teams Phone has a clear, strategic business advantage, but the transition to cloud-based telephony can be challenging. This is largely because the start point for many organizations is a disparate array of legacy on-premises hardware and a patchwork of carrier relationships across all their sites and countries. 

Need a Partner? 

Transitioning your company’s communication to Microsoft Teams Phone is relatively straightforward but enlisting a partner that has done it before can assure that you have a smooth and successful transition. Talk to us today to learn how your company can also take advantage of this modernization in communications. 

7 Hidden Features of Microsoft 365 You Are Lucky to Find

Microsoft 365 is the largest SaaS platform for mid-market and SMB companies. Microsoft 365 now has over 50 million subscribers. Over 1 million companies now use Microsoft 365 to power their core productivity functions. 

Companies usually sign up for Microsoft 365 to get email and desktop applications. And increasingly now with hybrid work, Microsoft Teams is becoming a big feature of M365. There are, however, most users don’t realize that beyond the most popular features of Microsoft 365 lie some not-so-obvious capabilities and tricks that are severely underused. These “hidden” features are designed to make using Microsoft 365 simpler and more effective. 

Whenever there’s a way to use technology to make our work more efficient, we’re all for it! With that in mind, we’ve put together seven hidden features of Microsoft 365 that, when used correctly, can make the way that you spend time on your computer more efficient and streamlined. 

1. Teams Voice 

Another little-known feature in Microsoft Teams is Teams Voice, which allows users to make and receive voice calls via the Teams app. You can take or make calls both from within Teams and externally via Cloud Phone, giving you a single number and a single app for voice and video calls on all your devices – in fact, you’ll never need to give out your mobile number again. 

Choose from an array of full calling solutions with VoIP—including custom on-hold music, advanced call routing and queues, auto attendants, and call parking. 

2. Teams Live Events 

Microsoft is lowering the barrier for companies to host and run webinars and other live events with Teams live events. Companies can use the Teams platform to set up basic events within Teams or more highly produced ones using Microsoft Stream or similar tools. It is a great tool to get most companies started in doing live events. Teams features that help enhance Live events include breakout rooms, word cloud polling, and standout mode in which the presenter appears to stand in front of their presentation to create richer experiences for the audience. Teams also supports real-time captioning and translation services to help you reach a broader audience. 

3. Content Sharing in Teams 

Teams has some great ways to make it easier to share content from whiteboards and notebooks. Within the Teams application (on Mac or Windows), you can use the share content button to specifically focus on a real-world whiteboard or document visible in the camera You can also use the digital whiteboard feature to allow everyone to engage. 

4. Shortcuts in Teams 

Similar to Slack, Teams has slash commands that calls features directly from the Search box. You can change your status, make a call, or send a message with these simple commands. Here are some useful examples: 

/call – Make a call 

/chat – Send a message 

/org – See the org structure of a person 

/files – See your recent files 

/available – Set your status to available 

/busy – Set your status to busy 

/mentions – Set your status to do not disturb 

/activity – See someone’s activity 

5. Task tracking and project management: Microsoft Lists and Microsoft To Do 

Microsoft includes several task management tools within Microsoft 365 including Planner, Lists, and To-Do. 

As the name implies, Microsoft Lists is a way to manage lists. Lists works within the whole Microsoft 365 suite to help people manage and track projects. It can have a bit of a learning curve, so Microsoft has provided pre-built templates to help you get started. A few interesting features include issue tracking for help desks, event itineraries, asset tracking, project planners, and social media calendars. 

Microsoft Planner is a project management tool – think Trello from Microsoft. It uses Kanban boards to track and provide information about each task in the project and integrates with To-Do and Tasks in Teams making it simple to see whole projects briefly, and for users to see their own tasks from the different projects they are a part of. Microsoft Planner provides set fields to create your plans and tasks, making it easy to use and easy to understand. 

Microsoft Planner and Microsoft Lists have a lot of overlap. It is easier to get started with Planner and is a good tool for most users. Lists provides a lot more flexibility and is likely better for full-time project managers or task automators. 

Microsoft To-Do is intended more for personal task tracking. You can still use To-Do to collaborate with colleagues, manage their tasks, and many users love its task scheduler and prioritization tools. Tasks from Planner and Lists that are assigned to you will show up in To Do, so it is another place. 

6. Real-Time Office Apps Collaboration 

With so many people working from working remotely, it is always great to have new ways to collaborate. Microsoft has added a real-time editing feature to PowerPoint, Word, and Excel. 

Like Google Docs, Microsoft 365 gives your team online collaboration to see edits made to documents and files in real-time. You can save your file to a shared drive and have multiple users making changes that update simultaneously, which is gratifyingly convenient for remote workers. 

7. Workflow Automation 

For the power users out there, Microsoft Power Automate enables workflow automation across all Microsoft 365 services. Flow is the tool used to take advantage of Power Automate and connects to IM alerts, email, files, SharePoint, and other triggers. Microsoft maintains a gallery of examples of flows you can automate to help get you started. 

Montra successfully manages thousands of Microsoft 365 users across all our customer instances. If you would like to learn more about how we can help you get the most from 365, please email us at

Microsoft 365 Trends in 2022

After a somewhat late start and mixed approach to offering services versus software (remember ASPs and Hosted Exchange), Microsoft 365 has become the dominant SaaS platform for mid-market and SMB companies. Microsoft 365 now has over 50 million subscribers. Not all of the other major SaaS providers provide their subscriber numbers but they include Adobe Cloud with 26 million subscribers and Salesforce with an estimated 17.8 million subscribers. 

With such a dominant role in corporate IT, our final trend predications for 2022 is focused specifically on the trends for Microsoft 365. 

1. More AI Features will Be Added 

 Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already a central focus of some 365 applications like Dynamics AI, but where most users feel the impact of AI is when these smart features are embedded into the core 365 apps. Like dynamic translations between languages in Word or the resume helper feature that pops up when Word believes you are working on one. 

Microsoft’s enormous user base puts them in a unique position to use AI techniques like machine learning (ML) that need a lot of user behavior data to work well. Microsoft will roll out these types of smart features in 2022 to offer uniqueness to their offerings that can only be added at their scale. 

2. Microsoft 365 will Get More Complex – not Less 

The approach that Microsoft has taken with 365 has been to constantly add to features and capabilities often without much of an announcement, documentation, or support. Many of these features are included in one or more of their subscription levels. The approach makes sense at the scale at which they operate, but it leads to adding more capabilities that make the 365 more complex to understand and utilize well. 

In 2022 this trend towards more complexity will continue. New features and new pricing plans will be an expanding story throughout the year. In Microsoft’s defense, it is really the right strategy for them right now. It is relatively low cost for them to add features to 365 and effectively test them on their large customer base. The features that are working and being used (like Teams) get more development and support effort, while the features that don’t work get less support and will even get removed (like Delve). 

3. More API Tendrils will Deepen Microsoft 365’s Grip 

The number of application programming interfaces (APIs) in Microsoft 365 is mind-boggling. In 2022, the breadth of API coverage will increase. This is a strategic play and a practical benefit associated with the size and scale of Microsoft 365. Providing broad API support gives an incentive to enterprise developers or third parties to use the 365 features and applications in the automation of their business workflows. 

Look for more API support in the core IT processes that are associated with email, security, remote working, and data loss prevention. 365 is at the center of where most company’s employees interact with technology and communicate with one another. API support for automation that leverages this unique position for 365, is highly strategic to companies and therefore to Microsoft also. 

4. Remote Collaboration Will Take Center Stage 

Regardless of what happens with the pandemic and changing attitudes about remote work, Microsoft 365 will see many new features added or expanded to enable better remote work. While there are clear indications that many employees will return or continue to work from an office location, the remote work wave among software and services will lag the trend since rolling out these features has taken so long. 

For 365, extensions to Teams and the collaboration features of the Office application suite will feature prominently in 2022, if for no other reason than they were in development in 2020 and 2021. These features will provide value to remote workers and remote teams but will not see as much impact as was originally expected in 2021. 

We are big believers in Microsoft 365 and the increasing influence it will have on users across companies of all sizes. What do you think about Microsoft 365 in 2022? Where do you think Microsoft will expand this juggernaut for the upcoming year? Let us know what you think at