At this stage of the game, chances are good you’ve heard of Office 365.
Despite the widespread publicity surrounding Microsoft’s signature platform, many people still don’t know what it is and what it’s good for. Office 365 is a subscription-based service that gives you access to MS Office applications, along other business-enhancing tools, through the web (also referred to as the cloud). Instead of installing the programs on individual computers, you purchase a license for a set of users and download them from the Internet. You can also install these programs across multiple devices, enabling you to work remotely on desktop or mobile devices. Cool, right? In addition, Office 365 includes several online collaboration tools like Exchange Online email, Skype for Business web conferencing, and cloud-storage with OneDrive for Business.
Office 365 is an ever-changing platform that offers many benefits to businesses, but before taking the leap, it’s a good idea to compare the pros and cons and decide whether it’s right for your organization.
Easy To Maintain
The greatest benefit of Office 365 is that all products are updated in the cloud. Whenever a security fix or a patch update comes down, all you have to do is download it. Gone are the days of struggling through updates one computer at a time. When you are working in the cloud, the latest version is always available.
Cost Effective For Multiple Users
If more than one person in your company uses MS Office applications, then Office 365 may be a cheaper way to go. Yes, you will pay for the service every year, but when you factor in the cost of buying new licenses for your team every time a new version comes out, you might end up saving money with a subscription.
Reliable And Fast
Office 365 offers the easiest and most reliable way to set up a complex multi-location exchange within your organization. Creating a similar solution in-house would take up a vast amount of resources and you would still be at the mercy of your own server. No matter how good your IT staff is, you are bound to experience less downtime with cloud-hosted support from Microsoft.
Skype for Business
Skype allows users to video conference as well as send text to one another, a very handy tool for online presentations and meetings. This app also offers advanced capability for webinars. Using Skype Meeting Broadcast, you can present to up to 10,000 attendees at once.
Lastly, Skype is very useful for troubleshooting computers remotely. Your admin can connect to the end-user and work on the machine from miles away.
Document Storage and Management Apps
OneDrive for Business offers dedicated storage space in the cloud where your team can organize, share, and sync documents. OneDrive comes with 1TB of space for each user, taking a load off your local server while putting the files in a protected space with backup capabilities. This program also gives users the ability to share documents with internal as well as external users without heavy lifting from the network admin.
SharePoint is another collaboration tool that comes with business-grade subscription levels. It will help you create an internal website, or intranet, for hosting information, making it easier for people to work and collaborate. SharePoint is also customizable to fit within your business branding and workflow goals.
Microsoft has made huge strides in cloud security that will keep you in firm control over who has access to your data. In 2015, it became the first major cloud services company to embrace a world-wide standard for cloud security. This code for best practices was created by the International Organization for Standardization with the sole purpose of protecting data in the cloud, and the British Standards Institute has confirmed that Microsoft’s cloud services meet these stringent requirements, including Office 365, Azure and Dynamics CRM Online.
This crucial measure keeps sensitive data secure and companies in control over access. Advertisers cannot use your information without your permission and government agencies must ask you for any personally identifiable data (except where prohibited by law).
Just as the cost of subscribing can be an asset, it can also be a deterrent to using Office 365. This is a recurring fee you’ll have to pay every year, regardless of whether a new version is released or not. If you are a sole proprietor and recently bought the newest version of MS Office, it might not make sense for you to upgrade to Office 365 right now.
Licenses start at $4.00 per month, though, which is pretty reasonable for what you get, and you can secure discounts by buying or renewing your subscription through a Cloud Services Provider, like Aerie Consulting for instance!
Some Apps Depend On Internet Connectivity
Even though you can use core Office products offline – like Word and Excel – many of the features associated with Exchange, OneDrive and Lync depend on an internet connection. If your ISP service blinks out, you will have to wait until your back online to use these apps.
Limitations On Customization
When it comes to cloud computing, expediency sometimes results in fewer customization options. You may find limited configuration and customization options with email and (to some extent) SharePoint. A professional SharePoint intranet designer can help you maximize the flexibility and branding options of Office 365. You may also want to investigate the limitations in Exchange and make sure your subscription level will satisfy company needs, especially in regards to mailbox capacity and email use.
Office 365 is a robust, yet scalable business solution that grows at the pace of your business. Even small offices can benefit by migrating to the cloud. But before taking the plunge, you should research the limitations and weigh them against your most urgent needs. In most cases, the benefits will outweigh the challenges.Share