What is Office 365?
Traditionally, Microsoft Office has been a software application that is downloaded and installed on one or more PCs under a single or multi-user license agreement.
First introduced in 2010 and expanded in 2013 to include new plans, Microsoft Office 365 is a pay-as-you-go subscription version that provides ONLINE access to various software and services that eliminate the need for your own Microsoft Small Business Server. Typically, plans may include:
- Microsoft Office Suite (word, editor, excel, etc.)
- Microsoft Exchange Online (hosted email)
- Microsoft Lync 2010 (Communication Server)
- Sharepoint Document Management (Document Server)
- Sky drive storage
- malware protection
So is MS Office 365 right for you and your business?
The benefits of Office 365
- Your apps can be accessed through any device (including mobile), through any web browser, as long as you have the correct permissions and access to an internet connection (including wi-fi).
- Reduced capital expenses
- Instead of paying for new versions, Office 365 updates are automatically included in your subscription
- Multiple users can access the same documents, for example, you can store documents in Sharepoint 2010 and have the ability to make changes, review versions, or even leave notes for colleagues.
- Eliminate any infrastructure headaches should you need to relocate offices.
- Increased server stability, with a high uptime service level agreement. (assumes network reliability)
The cons of Office 365
- Your data is stored in ‘the cloud’ in Microsoft data centers, so it’s both network and bandwidth dependent. If your Internet connection fails, you will lose access to your software and data until it is restored
- You have very little control over this ‘cloud’ environment in which your data is stored, while there are uptime guarantees, any failure of the data center infrastructure can have a direct impact on the availability of Office 365. small businesses don’t have leverage.
- You may find that there are increased security risks associated with storing data ‘online’. If this is a key driver for your business, there are upgrade options available, but these may be cost prohibitive.
- Application performance may be slower with an Internet connection, especially if you have home users with lower Internet connectivity and broadband speeds. This could have the effect of reducing productivity.
- There are limits to the number of email recipients you can have in a 24 hour period
Ultimately, if you’re considering switching to Office 365, you need to assess its suitability based on your own individual business requirements. How would your business be affected if you couldn’t access applications? Are the possible security implications an issue? What budget do you have available? Do you have any internal IT support? Will you still need a local server for certain requirements?
With any IT decision, it’s always best to seek help to identify the impact to your business and how to minimize any potential risk.