The Modern SharePoint Online Admin Center – your site collections, security access settings and you

Juan Carlos Gonzalez

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The Modern SharePoint Online (SPO) Admin Center has been an ongoing project for the last few years and with the latest features incorporated, SPO Admins have all the tools and features to manage effectively SPO Sites and Services. In this eBook, you will find a review of the current version of the Modern SharePoint Online Admin Center.

SharePoint Online (SPO) is a core workload in Office 365 that can be managed through a dedicated Admin Center equivalent to the on-premises SharePoint Central Administration and PowerShell.

Currently, Microsoft provides two different Admin Center experiences for SPO:

  • The Classic SPO Admin Center is still the default admin option for many Office 365 tenants.
  • The Modern SPO Admin Center is the default admin experience for tenants with less than 50 seats. In the future, the Modern SPO Admin Center will become the default one for bigger tenants.

The Modern SPO Admin Center has been an ongoing project for the last few years and with the latest features incorporated, SPO Admins have all the tools and features to manage SPO Sites and Services effectively. Microsoft is expected to continue adding more features to the Modern Admin Center in the future, and for sure, some of them will be disclosed at Microsoft Ignite Conference happening in Florida next November.

Image 1.- Modern SPO Admin Center evolution.

In this eBook, you will find a review of the state of art of the current version of the Modern SharePoint Online (SPO) Admin Center.

Modern SPO Admin Center General Features

Compared to the Classic SPO Admin Center, the Modern Admin Center is characterized by the following general features:

  • A clean Look & Feel and a user experience aligned with the rest of user experience we can find across Office 365 (Note: Exchange Online Admin Center is going to be the only Admin Center not modernized yet in Office 365).
  • Simple to use and much faster than the Classic SPO Admin Center.
  • It allows all the site collections to be managed in the tenant, including sites linked to Office 365 Groups and Teams, something that is not possible with the Classic SPO Admin Center.
  • There are still many features not modernized yet: User Profiles, Term Store, Search, etc.

Current Management Features available in the Modern SPO Admin Center are reflected in the following image (Note: In the future, we can expect additional management features to be added to the Modern SPO Admin Center).

Image 2.- Overview of the management features in the Modern SPO Admin Center.

Accessing the Modern SPO Admin Center

The Modern SPO Admin Center can be accessed in the following ways:

  • From the “SharePoint” shortcut available in the Admin Center section in the Office

365 Admin Center vertical menu.

Image 3. Access to the SPO Admin Center from Office 365/Microsoft 365 Admin Center.

  • Typing the following URL in your favorite Internet Browser: https://<DominiO365>- admin.sharepoint.com/

Both approaches will get you to the Classic or the Modern SPO Admin Center depending on the size of your tenant or the default Admin experience configured by the SPO Administrator. If the Classic SPO Admin Center shows up, to access the Modern one click on the “Open it now” button you can find in the Modern Admin Center

banner placed in the site collections page:

Image 4.- Access to the modern SPO Admin Center from the classic one.

Modern Admin Center Home page

Once the Modern Admin Center is loaded in your browser, you will see a Home page that displays the following information:

A summary of the SharePoint activities in the tenant is displayed in two nice charts that reflect the following information:

  • Files activities in the SPO tenant (Files viewed or edited, files synchronized, files shared internally, and files shared externally) for the last 30 days. If you want to see more details about these activities in the tenant, click the “Details” link to show the global SharePoint activity report.
  • The total number of sites vs the active sites in the tenant for the last 30 days. Again, to have a more detailed view of the active sites, click on the “Details” link to display the global SharePoint site usage report.

Specific SPO messages coming from the Microsoft 365 Messages center. You can click on any message to see the message details in the Office 365 Messages center.

The SPO health status. In case there are any issues in the SPO service, you will be able to click on a specific issue and check issue details in the Office 365 Health dashboard.

Image 5.- Modern Admin Center Home page.

Sites Management in the Modern SPO Admin Center

A key shortcoming of the classic SPO Admin Center was the impossibility to manage modern sites (Hub sites, communication sites, and modern team sites), something that is provided by the Modern SPO Admin Center. The active sites page displays all the sites in an SPO tenant in a nice modern list view that can be customized by adding or removing columns, applying filters on specific columns, or simply changing the column order. In the same way, we can customize views or create new ones in modern SPO lists and document libraries, customizations completed in the Active site’s view can be saved in

the current view or a new one. Only one of the available views can be the default one. The SPO Admin can perform the following tasks on the Active sites page:

  • Create new sites (modern sites or classic ones). The SPO Admin can choose to create the following types of modern sites: Team sites (Tied to Office 365 Groups), Communication sites. Or he/she can still create classic sites using the classic site templates that are also available in the Modern SPO Admin Center.

Image 6.- Site creation experience in the Modern SPO Admin Center.

To create a new modern site, choose the type of modern site to create (a Team site or a Communication site) and then input the required parameters. For instance, for a modern Team site you need the following information:

  • Site Name (required).
  • Group e-mail address (required): By default, the site name is added as an alias for the e-mail address, and you can change it by using the “pencil” icon.
  • Group owner (required).
  • Select a language (optional): By default, the language selected is the language of the current user.
  • Privacy settings (optional): You can choose between Private (default value) and public.
  • Time Zone (optional): By default, the time zone selected is the global one configured by the SPO Admin in the SPO Admin Center.
  • Site description (optional): Description of the site.
  • Storage limit (optional): Default storage limit for the site. This value can only be stated when the Storage quota is managed manually in the tenant.

Image 7.- Creating a Modern site from the Modern SPO Admin Center.

To create a Classic site, choose any of the default classic templates or click on “More templates.” To create a Classic site, you will need to fill in the site name, primary administrator and choose your preferred language and time zone. You can also indicate the quota storage to be applied to the site.

Image 8.- Creating a classic site from the Modern SPO Admin Center.

If you clicked on “More templates,” you will be redirected to the Classic experience to create your classic site.

Image 9.- Classic experience to create a classic site.

Export current sites in tenant to a CSV file that can be used to create Excel reports to provide insights about the sites in a tenant.

Image 10.- Sites report generated from the CSV file generated by the “Export” option in

the Active sites page.

If a site is selected, different site actions to manage a Site are enabled. For instance, for a communication site, the following site actions are available:

  • Owners, you can change the primary admin and add/remove secondary admins to the selected site.
  • Hub, for a Hub site, you can modify Hub site settings or unregister the site as

Hub site. If the site is not a Hub site, you can change the Hub the site is associated with.

  • Sharing, you can configure the external sharing for the site.
  • Storage, you can manage the storage quota for the site if the tenant quota is managed manually. You can also indicate when SPO is going to send notifications in case the storage used in the site is approaching the quota assigned to it.

The “i” icon in the list view actions bar shows additional information about the site in the site details panel. In this panel, you can do the same site actions as already described. Additionally, you can change the URL of the site selected (Note: Bear in mind this URL change is not possible for Hub sites).

Image 11.- Site details panel and site actions for a site selected in the list view.

If you select more than one site, the following Bulk edit operations are available:

  • Sharing, so you can configure the same sharing setting for the selected sites.
  • Hub associations, so you can associate the sites with the same Hub site.
  • Delete: Deletes the sites and move them to the Sites collection recycle bin where Sites are kept up to 93 days before being permanently deleted.

Image 12.- Bulk edit options in the Active site view.

Deleted sites section provides access to the Site collections recycle bin where deleted sites are kept for up to 93 days. Deleted sites are also shown in a modern view and for a time in the Recycle bin from where the SPO Admin can restore the site or permanently delete it. Note that it’s not possible to delete or restore more than one site at once.

Image 13.- Site collections recycle bin.

Policies section

The Policies section in the Modern SPO Admin Center provides access to the following SPO management policies: Sharing policies and Access Control Policies.

Sharing page is designed to manage external access to content stored in SPO and OneDrive For Business (ODFB) through the following settings:

  • The default external sharing setting to be applied to both SPO and

ODFB: Anonymous, New, and existing external users, Existing external users, Only people in your organization. The default external sharing setting is “Anonymous,” which means SPO and ODFB users can share content with any user without requiring to start a session in Office 365.

Image 14.- Sharing settings page in the Modern SPO Admin Center.

Apply the following advanced settings for external sharing:

  • Limit external sharing by domain by indicating the allowed domains or the blocked ones. A maximum of 1000 domains can be added. Bear also in mind that this limitation does not apply when folders and files are shared with anonymous links.
  • Force to use the same account to accept a sharing invitation.
  • Allow or not guests users to share items they don’t own.

Image 15.- Advanced settings for external sharing.

Choose the type of link selected by default and default permissions when sharing content from SPO and ODFB. There are three types of sharing links:

  • Specific people.
  • Only people in your organization.
  • Anyone with this link (selected by default). This type of link includes an additional setting to configure an expiration period for anonymous links (in days).

The permissions granted by link can be:

  • For files: View / View and edit.
  • For Folders: View / View, edit, and upload.

Limit external sharing to specific security groups and Shorten links or change their default permission. Note those last two settings can only be configured in the Sharing page in the Classic SPO Admin Center.

Image 16. Sharing settings that can only be configured through the Classic SPO Admin Center.

Other settings: Enable (default option) or disable the setting to display the names of people who viewed their files. From here there are also links to the classic sharing page to configure the following settings:

  • Limit external sharing to specific security groups.

Access control page gives access to 4 settings designed to restrict access to SPO sites and ODFB:

  • Unmanaged devices: It allows to control how unmanaged devices can access information stored in SPO sites. An Enterprise Mobility + Security subscription is required to have access to those settings through Azure AD.

Image 17.- Access control policies page + Access to the Unmanaged devices section.

Idle session sign-out: This provides a mechanism to protect unexpected access to SPO content in situations where users have not been active in their sessions for a specific

amount of time, so after a warning, they are automatically signed out from SPO and ODFB. Idle session sign-out includes two settings that can be configured:

  • The warning notices (From 1 minute up to 30 minutes).
  • The idle session period (From 15 minutes up to 24 minutes).

Image 18.- Idle session sign-out setting.

Network location: It allows us to restrict access to both SPO and ODFB from specific IP addresses. You can indicate an individual IP address and/or IP address ranges.

When modifying this setting, be careful and don’t block yourself to access SPO and ODFB. In case this situation happens, open a support ticket so Microsoft can undo the configurations done.

Image 19.- Network location configuration.

Apps that don’t use modern authentication: Allows/blocks access to SPO and ODFB content from Old applications that don’t use modern authentication such as old versions of the Office clients. Allow access to SPO contents from those kinds of applications can be a potential security problem, so it’s recommended to block their access.

Image 20.- Apps that don’t use modern authentication settings.

Settings

This section provides shortcuts to settings that can be applied globally to SPO and ODFB:

  • Notifications: If this setting is enabled, SPO and ODFB send notifications about SharePoint content to the user’s mobile apps. Bear in mind that notification must also be turned on in the end user’s mobile apps.

Image 21.- Settings section in the Modern SPO Admin Center.

Site storage limits: It defines if SPO site storage is going to be managed: manually or automatically. Managing SPO Site storage manually means that SPO Admins must assign a default quota storage for every site in the tenant and a quota warning level to get notified when sites are approaching the quota storage assigned. However, when site SPO site storage is automatically managed, SPO Admins don’t need to do this task. The storage of each site is increased automatically when required based on the storage pool available and considering a single site can store up to 25 TB. More information about SPO Storage management can be found in the following

article: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint/manage-site-collection-storage- limits

Image 22.- Site storage limits configuration.

Default admin experience: It allows us to choose what Admin Center experience is going to be the default one for any Global Admin, SPO Admin managing SPO. When the setting is on, the Modern SPO Admin Center is going to be the default one.

Image 23.- Default admin experience setting.

Site creation: This section provides four settings that can be modified to adjust the following parameters related to site creation in an SPO tenant:

  • Managed paths: we can choose the default path under which sites are created. Currently, SPO only provides two choices here: “teams” and “sites” (default value).
  • Default time zone changes the default time zone in the SPO tenant (Redmond time) to a more convenient one.
  • Let’s users create new sites enables non-admin users to create new sites in the tenant from places such as the SPO landing page or ODFB.
  • Default storage limit for new sites: when SPO quota is manually managed, the SPO Admin is required to type a default quota value for every site created in the tenant.

Image 24.- Site creation settings.

Link to the Classic settings page: This provides a link to the Classic settings page where the SPO Admin can find some additional settings that are not yet in the Modern SPO Admin Center. The following are some of the settings available in the Classic Admin Center that are not yet in the Modern one:

  • Show or Hide App Tiles: It shows/hides SharePoint and ODFB tiles in the Office 365 App launcher.
  • OneDrive for Business experience: It defines the default user experience (Classic or Modern) for ODFB.
  • OneDrive Sync button: It shows/hides the sync button/action in ODFB and SPO document libraries.
  • Delve (Powered by Office Graph): It allows us to disable Delve app for all the users in the tenant.
  • Enterprise social collaboration: This feature does not work anymore after the discontinuation of SPO news feeds.

As you can see, there are still several SPO settings that are in the Classic SPO Admin Center and are not yet in the Modern one, which is one of the reasons why both Admin Centers still coexist.

Image 25. Classic settings page in the Classic Admin Center.

Advanced settings

This section is intended to contain any other settings considered as “advanced” by

Microsoft. At the time of writing this eBook, two advanced settings can be found here:

API Management: From this section Admins can approve/reject permissions requested by third-party APIs that can be called by SharePoint Framework (SPFx) solutions and custom scripts.

Image 26.- API Management in the Modern SPO Admin Center.

Geo locations: It shows the available geo locations for the current Office 365 tenant. From here, a SharePoint Admin can add new satellite locations. Bear in mind that Geo locations management only shows up in tenants where multi-geo has been enabled.

Imagen 27.- Geolocations management experience.

Classic features

This section contains shortcuts to classic features that are not modernized yet or not fully modernized.

Image 28.- Classic features shortcuts.

Currently, the following shortcuts are provided:

  • Term store: Access to the Global Term Store Administration in SPO.
  • User profiles: Access to user profiles management in SPO. The User profiles page provide different management pages to:
    • Manage User properties: View existing user properties or create new ones.
    • Manage User Profiles: Check all the user profiles synchronized from Azure AD, modify an existing user profile or even create new ones.

Image 29.- User profiles management.

Search: Access to the Search Service administration in SPO where the SPO Admin can manage all aspects of the Search service.

Image 30.- Search service management in the SPO Admin center.

Apps: Access to all the options available to configure Add-ins deployment in SPO such as:

  • App catalog: Create/Browse the global App catalog in the SPO tenant. The global App catalog is required not only to deploy SPO Add-ins, but also SharePoint Framework (SPFx) solutions (SPFx Web Parts and SPFx Extensions).
  • Manage licenses: Access to the list of SPO Add-ins installed in the tenant so specific licensing options can be configured.
  • App permissions: It displays SPO permissions granted to SPO Add-ins installed in the tenant.

Image 31.- Apps management in the SPO Admin Center. BCS: Access to manage Business Connectivity Service (BCS) service in SPO.

Image 32.- BCS management in the SPO Admin Center.

Secure store: Provides access to the Secure store settings where SPO Admins can set the credentials required to target applications used for BCS connections. Admins can also edit credentials already created in the service.

Image 33.- Secure Store management in the SPO Admin Center.

Records management: Access to the Classic records management features in SPO. Bear in mind that modern SPO sites do not have support yet for those Classic records management features, and there is not a clear roadmap about how Microsoft plans to change the Send To feature.

Image 34.- Classic Records Management features.

InfoPath: It shows specific configurations related to the use of InfoPath in SPO. Remember that InfoPath is deprecated technology, and you should avoid using it. Instead, you should build SPFx and PowerApps solutions.

Image 35.- InfoPath settings in the SPO Admin Center.

Hybrid picker: It provides a link to download the Hybrid picker required to set up Hybrid on-premises and online scenarios.

Classic site collections page: It shows the Classic site collections page with the list of classic sites in the tenant.

Image 36.- Classic site collections page.

Modern SPO Admin Center Roadmap

We can state that the Modern SPO Admin Center is not finished, and we can expect more updates in the coming months. For now, we don’t have a clue about what Microsoft plans are regarding modernizing and even adding new features, the missing parts in the new Admin SPO Admin center that should be modernized. If we look at the Microsoft 365 Roadmap, there are no new items related to the Modern SPO

Admin Center, so I guess we must wait until Microsoft Ignite to know what’s new and

coming to the Modern SPO Admin Center.

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Image 37.- Microsoft 365 Roadmap, SharePoint Admin Center updates.

However, as announced last May in the SharePoint Conference 2019 in Las Vegas and in the Microsoft Tech Community, there are still some new features to come to the Modern Admin Center:

  • Ability to apply sensitivity labels at the site level: Currently in preview, this feature will allow a default sensitivity label to be applied to an entire SPO site.

Image 38.- Applying sensitivity labels at the site level in the Modern SPO Admin Center.

External access expiration is coming to the Modern SPO Admin Center in Q3 FY 19, so we will be able to set an expiration period when sharing content from SPO and ODFB with new external guests.

Image 39.- External Access expiration setting.

Conclusions

After more than 2 years of work, finally, we have a more complete Modern SPO Admin Center to manage SPO sites and services. The following are some of the key features and aspects of the Modern SPO Admin Center:

  • New fast, simple to use, and powerful Admin experience aligned with the rest of user experiences in Office 365.
  • It’s the default SPO Admin Center for tenants with less than 50 seats:
    • It will be the default SPO Admin Center for bigger tenants in the future.
  • Both modern (Modern Team Sites, Communication Sites, and Hub Sites) and classic Sites can be managed in the modern SPO Admin Center.
  • There are still some parts that will be modernized in the future:
    • Access to those features is achieved through a set of shortcuts added in the SPO Admin Center.

References

Microsoft 365 Roadmap, SharePoint new stuff:

SharePoint Admin Center documentation:

What’s new and coming in the modern SharePoint Online Admin Center:

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