Office 365 Overview

Office 365 is Microsoft’s “Productivity Suite in the cloud”. It comprises a set of class leading communication and collaboration tools, hosted by Microsoft but integrated into a users day to day desktop working experience, licensed on a flexible “per user, per month” basis. At a very high level it comprises the following elements:
  1. SharePoint Online – a web content management solution to provide user profiles, collaboration, content management and search capabilities for internal and external users. SharePoint Online can be configured to provide an intranet, fileshare replacement, document and records management solution, public website and people directory all on a single platform.
  2. Lync Online – an instant messaging and presence platform with video, screen share and voice call capabilities.
  3. Exchange Online – an enterprise grade messaging platform providing each user with a mailbox of up to 50GB in size alongside all the latest features of Exchange 2013.
  4. Office 365 Pro Plus – effectively the Microsoft Office 2013 suite (Word, Excel and PowerPoint) but provided via either the browser or in full, installed desktop client, mode.
  5. OneDrive for Business – a personal content storage area which enables users to store up to 25GB (increase soon to 1TB) of personal content and have it synchronised with their desktop machine.
  6. Yammer Enterprise – An enterprise social platform that enables greater and quickly collaboration within the organisation, Yammer provides similar functionality as Facebook, but is an enterprise grade, secure social platform.
Each element of the above can be licensed separately on a “per user per month” basis or within cost effective “bundled” plans that include all elements.

Benefits

Office 365 offers a range of benefits over the traditional model of standing up the . It aligns and delivers a lot of your productivity requirement in one place – the cloud, whilst potentially offering a number of benefits including:
  1. Mobile support – the world is becoming increasingly mobile and internet connected. Business are now looking to provide their staff with the same level of “anywhere access” to their business information as they experience in their personal lives. Office 365 fully supports this by hosting all content in the cloud, ensuring that it is available from anywhere, at any time, on a wide range of devices. This supports both a “Bring you own Device” (BYOD) ethos or a more mobile workforce using company provided laptops or mobile devices, either from home or on the move.
  2. Evergreen Service – Office 365 is “evergreen” in nature, meaning that it is constantly updated to the latest version by Microsoft negating the need conduct lengthy upgrade processes internally whilst always providing users with the latest features, functionality and experience. This evergreen ethos is also extended to the desktop versions of Office (ProPlus – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, etc.) meaning a migration to Office 365 may be the last migration you ever do (in relation to the elements covered of course). The Office 365 roadmap of features and services can be accessed here: http://tinyurl.com/lha85z3.
  3. Low cost of entry – Office 365’s cloud based service, supported by a “per user, per month” license model, provides a low cost of entry to businesses.
  4. Reduced Maintenance – there are little or no traditional IT maintenance or hardware refresh activities required; Microsoft provide and manage all elements….all that is required is an internet connection. Backed by a financially backed Service Level Agreement and a proven 99.9% availability, the cost benefit of the platform vs. traditional on premise solutions is difficult to better.
  5. Consolidate Hosting and Service costs – the hardware and storage hosting costs associated with any existing SharePoint, Lync and Exchange implementations (or non-Microsoft alternatives) are removed as these environments are sunset and content is moved to the cloud. Additionally, personal file storage can be moved to the OneDrive for Business – potentially negating the requirement for desktop backup software and associated storage. Other hosting or service costs can also be consolidated, such as the migration of an existing hosted public website to SharePoint Online or the replacement of an outsourced email spam / malware filtering solution with Exchange Online Protection.
  6. Seamless user experience and transition– the elements within Office 365 are closely integrated and work well with one another. More important is the fact that Office 365 comprises the tools that users are often already familiar with for completing their day job (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook), only hosted in the cloud. This means any migration can be done with minimal end user impact unless it is desired; for example from a user’s perspective a well-executed Exchange mailbox migration will be invisible – they simply continue to use their installed Outlook client. However, if you are looking to refresh a SharePoint implementation or provide a communication tool such as Lync and engage users in a new way of working, Office 365 provides a range of new features and tools, including social aspects, that users can benefit from.
  7. Roadmap to the cloud – Office 365 provides an opportunity to roadmap a journey to the cloud that can be tailored based on budget, appetite for business change or realisable benefit; it is not an “All or nothing” platform. Customers can start gradually with just the Exchange and/or Office components of Office 365, but can then add further services at the pace you want to encompass SharePoint Online, Social networking, your public Internet, Intranet, Extranets, Records Management, etc. You can start to transition some of your legacy applications or third-party dependencies into the cloud, resulting ultimately in the consolidation of a large proportion of systems onto a single, no maintenance, predictable and fixed cost, cloud platform.