Check your DNS provider before diving in to Office365

Office365 is a great service!  We love it at itgroove and we’ve helped a number of customers move to the service.  I won’t downplay the work that can be involved as, after all, you are migrating some heavy duty tools:  Exchange, SharePoint, et al.  That said, the process is actually quite well defined and Microsoft has made great strides in making things easier than they were even a year ago.  However, there is still the issue of DNS.

O365 requires some very specific DNS records be in place before all the bits and pieces inside O365 will work.  Microsoft lists a number of popular DNS providers in their O365 instructions and offer decent ‘how to’s” to follow to make the DNS record changes that are required.  However, there are more than a few DNS providers out there that simply aren’t up to snuff.  Case in point: Comcast.  I’m working with a customer in San Francisco that is migrating to O365 and we have gone around in more circles than I’d care to count trying to get the stupid Comcast DNS manager interface to accept the required entries.  Frankly, it’s been a nightmare to this point and we are not getting anywhere at all and Comcast support has been unresponsive.  We will probably have to move to another DNS provider (as per Microsoft recommendation) in order to get the records in place that will support O365.

Before you set a hard and fast cutoff date for your 0365 migration be sure to perform the required O365 DNS setup and, if it doesn’t work with your DNS provider, consider making a DNS provider switch as quickly as possible.  Proper DNS function is critical to the success of your O365 configuration and none of us need the grief of having to deal with an “obtuse” DNS provider!  DNS providers like GoDaddy, Gandi, and DynDNS are good choices, there are others, as well.  There is no good reason to put up with lousy DNS management and service so don’t be afraid to make the change.

ADDENDUM:  Just to show what a difference “good” tools can make … My customer and I decided to punt Comcast DNS after speaking with Comcast support who were very kind but unable to do much of anything to solve the problem.  We signed up at DynDNS for a $30/yr DNS hosting plan and I spent 5 minutes adding the required records (supported all of the records Microsoft requires for O365 including the SRV records,) then we flipped their nameservers inside their registrar (Network Solutions) and pointed at the DynDNS nameservers.  Within 3 minutes of making the switch at Network Solutions, O365 was able to verify that all required DNS records were in place and their O365 went “live”.  Total time investment was about half an hour start to finish vs the hours and hours of frustration that we went through trying to hammer Comcast DNS into place.  Moral of the story, it’s better to switch than fight!  Make sure your DNS is up to snuff and that part of getting your O365 online will be pretty painless.