The GAL and Smartphones

The Global Address List (GAL) is a shared, electronic address book which usually contains contact data on every person in a given organization. While a wonderfully useful tool, this database of contact information has a fundamental flaw. When Microsoft developed the GAL, it left a “Missing Sync”. There is no native method of syncing the GAL to smartphones.

This section looks at a number of solutions for syncing the GAL to smartphones, and their functionality.

The GAL and Smartphones: Current Problems

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The Missing Sync.

As it stands, the GAL is a view-only solution on smartphones. There is a fundamental gap when it comes to syncing contact data from the GAL. Users can be more productive if they have the entire GAL on their smartphones – that’s where they use it. Microsoft elected to omit this feature – possibly to give each organization discretion in granting access to specific data to particular employees.
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Manually Push Contacts

t is possible, although arduous, for a central administrator to manually push contacts through Outlook to each individual’s mailbox utilizing Active Sync. While this may be feasible for companies that have less than 100 mailboxes, as a company grows, the amount of labor required for this becomes impractical.
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Can't Access Contacts Offline

A common work-around for this GAL sync issue is to simple reverse look-up individuals via outlook. While this method is sometimes reliable (albeit tedious) it completely falls apart when offline. Should information be needed say, on an airplane, in a tunnel, or just in a general dead-zone, there will be no way to access the GAL.
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Updates Aren't Automatic

What happens to existing contacts when they change? Under a manual-push setup, updated numbers or contact photos won’t update without a central administrator pushing that information to a user’s phone.

The GAL and Commercially Available Smartphone Solutions

If you want the GAL reliable synced to smartphones, you will need a third-party solution. Tools developed in-house rarely stand up to the test of ongoing usage. Here are several companies that have proven solutions and reference customers

GAL Sync Solutions:

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CiraSync, from Cira Apps Limited, is a SaaS solution for companies operating on Office 365. CiraSync can sync the Global Address List, Public Contact Folders and calendars. The Personal Edition is free. The Enteprise Edition requires setup by a Global Admin and costs about $1.50/user per month. It can be purchased in increments of 10 users.

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itrezzo was developed initally for users wanting to sync BlackBerry PIN information.  The itrezzo Unified Contact Manager is an extensive for Microsoft Exchange and Office 365. This on premise product allows for users to sync the GAL and many other contact types to user smartphones.

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Connected Software is a leading provider of software for client-side email and address book migration, including solutions for Microsoft Outlook, Gmail, Microsoft Exchange, AOL, and Lotus Notes.

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NetSec A German company with a focus on GAL to GAL synchronization also allows Syncing the GAL to Outlook Contacts.

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Add2Exchange by DidItBetter Software allows synching the GAL and Public Folders to Outlook Contacts. It works with both On premise Exchange and Office 365.

VIDEO: Sync GAL to Smartphones

This video shows how to use the Enterprise Editiion of CiraSync to Sync the GAL (Office 365 Global Address List) to Outlook, iPhones, iPads Android using a centrally managed solution. You must be an Office 365 Global Administrator.

The Right Way to Sync the GAL to Smartphones

Create a mirror of the GAL on an iPhone or Android. For best practices on syncing the GAL to an iPhone or any other SmartPhone, take advantage of the experience and knowledge of your peers who have gone before you.

11 Compelling Reasons to Sync the Office 365 GAL to Smartphones

It’s not just that Microsoft took a pass on this vital function. or that up-to-date contacts are 10x as valuable in your smartphone as they are anywhere else. Check out 13 other reasons to sync Office 365 GAL contacts to the productivity center that everyone carries everywhere.