You have likely heard of Office 365, but have had no clue what it was. Office 365 is cloud-based service hosted by Microsoft can provide professionals and small businesses with enterprise-grade tools optimized for small business needs. You get affordable access from virtually anywhere to the familiar Office applications, business-ready email, calendar, video conferencing, and up-to-date documents across nearly all of your devices—from PCs to smartphones to tablets.
If that sounded like a bunch of marketing speak, it was – taken directly from Microsoft. What does it simply mean for you and your business? It means you need to start thinking differently about how you do things.
Office 365 is a suite of products that can encompass a variety of products and service offerings, and it can be quite confusing. There are two primary reasons that we’d recommend moving to Office 365: cloud-hosted email and subscription-based Microsoft Office (including Lync, which we use a lot).
First, let’s touch on the email component of things. Back in the day (and still to this day), there’s a very good chance your business was running a version of Windows Small Business Server (SBS). Small Business Server was a great product and included pretty much everything your businesses needed from a server. Small Business Server included a version of Microsoft Exchange built-in (referred to as on-premise email), so you could have email on your server as well.
While on-premise email is nice for many businesses, there are many reasons that you might consider moving to a hosted email environment like Office 365. More and more business are relying heavily on email as a primary form of communication, which put more and more of a strain on their server and can make troubleshooting issues more difficult. With more remote workers, you have more folks who are trying to check email remotely, putting more reliance on your office internet connection. If your server is having issues, your staff (remote or otherwise) will be unable to send or receive email. If something on your corporate public IP address gets infected with a virus or malware that spams your address book, you could end up with a blacklisted IP address, which would make you unable to send email as well.
With email downtime being a huge interruption and massive expense to many businesses, services like Office 365 are going to be far more reliable and less expensive in the long-run than an on-premise server.
With Windows Server 2012, Microsoft moved away from the fully all-in-one functionality. When your business moves to Server 2012, you’ll need to either setup another separate Exchange server or move your email to a cloud-based e-mail provider like Office 365, which Windows 2012 is built to work with. We highly recommend the move to cloud-based email with Office 365 (and can help with the migration).
Secondly, let’s touch on the Microsoft Office suite. Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and the rest of the Microsoft Office suite are critical programs to many office environments. Office 365 has plans that not only include the above mentioned email, but include the full Microsoft Office Professional suite, cloud-enabled so you can easily share, store, and access your files on multiple devices. It also includes Lync, which we’ve chatted about before, OneDrive, and Sharepoint Online, making for easy collaborating among team members whether they’re in the office or remote. While Office has generally been a device-based licensing model (typically pre-installed and licensed to a particular computer), Office 365 is a user-based licensing model, which can potentially save a bunch of money. Their license allows you to use Office 365 on up to five devices per user. So if you have a laptop, a desktop and a Windows tablet and you are the only one that uses those devices, you could install and use Office 365 on all three of those devices for the same monthly fee. It would also include upgrades to the latest version of Office as part of your subscription.
Interested in learning more about Office 365? Click on the banner below to sign up for a free trial or contact us today and let us help plan your migration.
Update on 10/28/14: OneDrive, a valuable part of the Office 365 suite that I personally use, now comes with unlimited storage. Click below to sign up for a trial today!
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