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Configure mail flow using connectors in Office 365

Exchange 2013
 

Applies to: Exchange Online, Exchange Online Protection

Topic Last Modified: 2015-05-11

Configure connectors to control the flow of email messages to and from your Office 365 organization. Your email service in Office 365 is provided by either Exchange Online or Exchange Online Protection (EOP). Within each of these services, you can configure connectors, which are a collection of instructions that customize the way your email flows.

This topic provides an overview of connectors. To start setting up connectors right away, check these topics:

Set up connectors to route mail between Office 365 and your own email servers

Set up connectors for secure mail flow with a partner organization

This topic includes:

What do connectors do?

What happened to inbound and outbound connectors?

When do I need a connector?

What if I have EOP or Exchange Online and my own email servers?

How do connectors in EOP or Exchange Online work with my own email servers (also called on-premises servers)?

Connectors for mail flow with a partner organization

Connectors for mail notifications from a device including printers

How do I set up connectors?

NoteNote:
If all your mailboxes are in Exchange Online, and want to send email from an application or a device, a connector can enable this scenario. For details about using a connector in this scenario, and for other ways to enable your device or application to send email, see How to Allow a Multi-function Device or Application to Send E-mail through Office 365 Using SMTP.

Set up connectors to:

  • Enable mail flow between Office 365 and your organization’s email servers (also known as an on-premises servers).

  • Apply security restrictions to mail exchanges with a business partner or service provider.

  • Enable email notifications from a printer or other non-mailbox entity.

Most organizations that use Office 365 don’t need connectors. This topic helps you decide whether your organization needs a connector, and which one. You can also find out what connectors are and how they work.

If you previously set up inbound and outbound connectors, they will still function in exactly the same way. The process for setting up connectors has changed; instead of using the terms "inbound" and "outbound", we ask you to specify the start and end points you want to use for a mail flow connector. The way connectors work in the background is the same as before.

Exchange Online is ready to send and receive email from the Internet right away. You don’t need to set up connectors unless you have EOP or other specific circumstances, which are described in the table below. Use this table to decide whether you need to set up connectors.

 

Scenario

What does this mean?

Connector required?

When creating the connectors, select these options

You have a standalone Exchange Online Protection (EOP) subscription.

You have your own email servers (also called on-premises servers), and you subscribe to EOP only for email protection services. See Exchange Online Protection overview for more information.

Yes

Connector for incoming email:
From: Your organization's email server
To: Office 365

Connector for outgoing email:
From: Office 365
To: Your organization mail server

You have an Exchange Online subscription, and some of your mailboxes are on your email servers.

Some of your mailboxes are in Exchange Online, and some are on your email servers (also called on-premises servers). Before you set up connectors, check whether you only need connectors or if an Exchange hybrid deployment better meets your business needs. See Exchange Server 2013 Hybrid Deployments for more information.

Yes

Connector for incoming email:
From: Your organization's email server
To: Office 365

Connector for outgoing email:
From: Office 365
To: Your organization's email server

You have an Exchange Online subscription, and your organization needs to send email messages from non-mailboxes, such as printers.

You don't have email servers (also called on-premises servers), but you want to let people send email messages from sources such as printers, fax machines, or apps. For details, see How to Allow a Multi-function Device or Application to Send E-mail through Office 365 Using SMTP.

Optional

Only one connector needed:
From: Your organization's email server
To: Office 365

You often exchange email with business partners, and you want to apply certain security restrictions.

When your users exchange email messages with people in partner organizations, you want to make sure that any shared sensitive information is protected. You can do this by using Transport Layer Security (TLS) or by limiting the mail’s source destination.

Optional

Connector for incoming email:
From: Partner organization
To: Office 365

Connector for outgoing email:
From: Office 365
To: Partner organization

TipTip:
If you do not have Exchange Online or EOP and are looking for Exchange connectors that apply to Exchange Server 2013 (on-premises server), see Connectors for information.

If you have EOP or Exchange Online and your own email servers (also called on-premises servers), you definitely need connectors. This is more complicated and has more options, here’s a breakdown:

 

Your mail servers that you manage (on-premises) are running:Your service subscription isHave you completed an Exchange hybrid deployment?Do I need to set up connectors?

Exchange Server 2013 or Exchange Server 2010

Exchange Online Protection

Not available

Yes.

Set them up by following the instructions in Set up connectors to route mail between Office 365 and your own email servers.

Office 365 with Exchange Online

No

Consider whether an Exchange hybrid deployment will better meet your organization’s needs by reviewing the topic that matches your current situation, either Exchange Server 2013 Hybrid Deployments or Hybrid Deployments with Exchange 2010 SP2. If a hybrid deployment is the right option for your organization, use the Exchange Hybrid Configuration wizard to integrate Exchange Online with your on-premises Exchange Server. If you only want connectors that enable mail routing, follow the instructions in Set up connectors to route mail between Office 365 and your own email servers.

Yes

No.

The Hybrid Configuration wizard creates connectors for you. To view or edit those connectors, go to the connectors page in the Exchange Admin Center (EAC), or rerun the Hybrid Configuration wizard.

Exchange Server 2007 or earlier

Exchange Online Protection

Office 365 with Exchange Online

Not available

Yes.

Set them up by following the instructions in Set up connectors to route mail between Office 365 and your own email servers.

In limited circumstances, you might have a hybrid configuration with Exchange Server 2007 and Office 365. Check whether connectors are already set up for your organization. To check, go to the connectors page in the EAC.

Non-Microsoft SMTP server

Exchange Online Protection

Office 365 with Exchange Online

Not available

Yes.

Set them up by following the instructions in Set up connectors to route mail between Office 365 and your own email servers.

If you have EOP and your own email servers, or if some of your mailboxes are in Exchange Online and some are on your email servers, connectors enable mail flow in both directions. You can enable mail flow between Office 365 and any SMTP-based email server such as Exchange, or a third-party email server. Create connectors to enable mail flow in both directions.

The diagram below shows how connectors in Office 365 (including Exchange Online or EOP) work with your own email servers.

Connectors between Office 365 and your e-mail server

In this example, John and Bob are both employees at your company. John has a mailbox on an email server that you manage, and Bob has a mailbox in Office 365. John and Bob both exchange mail with Sun, a customer with an Internet mail account:

  • When email is sent between John and Bob, connectors are needed

  • When email is sent between John and Sun, connectors are needed. (All Internet email is delivered via Office 365.)

  • When email is sent between Bob and Sun, no connector is needed.

If you have already run the Hybrid Configuration wizard, the connectors that you need are already set up for you. You can view your hybrid connectors on the Connectors page in the EAC. You can view, troubleshoot, and update these connectors using the procedures described in Set up connectors to route mail between Office 365 and your own email servers, or you can re-run the Hybrid Configuration wizard to make changes.

You can create connectors to add additional security restrictions for email sent between Office 365 and a partner organization. A partner can be an organization you do business with, such as a bank. It can also be a cloud email service provider that provides services such as archiving, anti-spam, and so on. You can create a partner connector that defines boundaries and restrictions for email sent to or received from your partners, including scoping the connector to receive email from specific IP addresses, or requiring Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption.

The diagram below shows an example where ContosoBank.com is a business partner that you share financial details with via email. Because you are sharing financial information, you want to protect the integrity of the mail flow between your businesses. Connectors with TLS encryption enable a secure and trusted channel for communicating with ContosoBank.com. In this example, two connectors are created in Office 365. TLS is required for mail flow in both directions, so ContosoBank.com must have a valid encryption certificate. A certificate signed by a certification authority (CA) is recommended.

Connectors between Office 365 and a partner organization

When you create a connector, you can also specify the domain or IP address ranges that your partner sends mail from. If email messages don’t meet the security conditions that you set, the connector will reject them. For more information about creating connectors to exchange secure email with a partner organization, see Set up connectors for secure mail flow with a partner organization.

This scenario applies only to organizations that have all their mailboxes in Exchange Online and allows a program or a device, such as a printer, to send email. For example, if you want a printer to send notifications when a print job is ready, or you want your scanner to email documents, you can use this option to send mail through Office 365. For details, see How to Allow a Multi-function Device or Application to Send E-mail through Office 365 Using SMTP.

Before you set up a connector, you must set up the accepted domains that you want to define for Office 365. See Manage accepted domains in Exchange Online for more details.

Want to help us improve connectors in Office 365? Send us feedback, and let us know what you liked, didn’t like, or what we can do to make your experience better.

 
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