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*** UPDATE ***
April 26, 2017
This original post focused on Vision 7.2 and lower connecting to Office 365 using an internal SMTP relay. Since Vision 7.3+ began supporting direct connections to Office 365, we are still seeing lots of people struggle to get this to work so we have published a new step by step guide for 7.3+: Connecting Deltek Vision e-mail to Office 365
For anyone still on 7.2 or lower, if you’re having issues with getting this to work, feel free to drop us an e-mail at email@example.com and we will gladly give you a hand getting this up and running. You may have even stumbled on this page because you’re trying to send SMTP e-mail to Office 365 from some other application other than Deltek Vision. In either case we have plenty of experience getting this working.
Since I first started blogging about it, adoption of Office 365 has grown exponentially and for good reason. The benefits of the subscription cloud-based Office 365 versus local installation versions of office are too numerous to write about here.
One issue that does come up with Office 365 however is how to handle utility e-mail accounts. With in-house Exchange there were lots of options for creating dummy POP/IMAP accounts for various utilities such as printers, copiers/scanners, application e-mail alerts, etc.
Vision is one such application that needs to use an non-secure SMTP account for sending e-mail alerts, reports, etc. So how do we configure Vision so it can send e-mails through Office 365?
Currently Vision does not support sending e-mails through Office 365 for one reason – The application is not designed to send e-mail over secure channels and Office 365 requires all e-mail communication to be secure.
Vision can only send e-mail over SMTP (very old mail protocol called Simple Mail Transfer Protocol). This is done by providing the name of an SMTP server (internal or external) and optionally providing a username and password (if the server requires it).
While the Vision config does offer a field to enter the port number (default SMTP is 25), this is more intended for servers that are listening on a non-standard port which is really more of a light security/SPAM prevention mechanism. Entering a port such as 587 which Office 365 uses will still not work as the connection is still not secure.
So how do we resolve this issue? We could send our Vision e-mails through a different e-mail account outside of the domain such as through your ISP’s mail server (many still provide SMTP services), but this would mean the e-mail is not coming from your company’s domain.
A better and very simple solution is to set up an internal SMTP relay server to act as an intermediary between Vision and Office 365.
How does it work?
In a nutshell, an SMTP relay is a function of the SMTP server feature which can be run under IIS 6.0. Almost any Windows server or workstation OS can be configured to be a web server and while many people know this, they may not realize it can also be a mail server. Many web applications rely on the SMTP server component of IIS to send emails.
In order for Vision to “communicate” with Exchange Online, we establish an internal SMTP server which will receive the non-secure e-mails from Vision and “relay” them securely to Exchange Online using valid credentials from an Office 365 account. Note that you can use any valid account that has access to Exchange. It could be a shared Exchange account or even a Kiosk Email account if you’re looking to keep costs down.
The configuration of the SMTP relay will vary by your operating system and is too detailed to explain in a short blog post. Configuration in Vision will likely not change much from your existing setup except for the server name which would now be the host name or IP of the new SMTP server instead of your old exchange or POP/IMAP server.
Until Deltek enhances Vision to directly support secure connections to email servers like Exchange Online, this is a viable workaround which is reasonably easy to set up and works seamlessly as you would expect it to.
Here is a link to more information on setting up the SMTP relay: http://www.o365info.com/2013/01/smtp-relay-in-office-365-environment.html
For more information drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment on this post.
Please note that as of Vision 7.3 there is an option to use TLS on the Configuration–>General–>Email tab. This should allow direct access to an Office 365 e-mail account, however we have not yet tested this. If you have successfully connected to Office 365 this way leave a comment!