Microsoft Office 365 is an email, storage and collaboration system run on the Microsoft cloud platform. The data is stored in the Microsoft Data Centres and not on servers in your office. Utilising Office 365, you can replace your ‘on premise’ Microsoft Exchange, Sharepoint and Lync servers. It will also provide you with OneDrive, which can be used to replace user home drives, as well as a copy of the latest version of Microsoft Office, which is currently version 2013.

Previously, Telstra were the only company allowed to sell Office 365 in Australia. Microsoft has recently opened up Office 365 licensing to other resellers, which means that you can purchase licenses from companies such as Excite IT and you are only locked in for the term of your licenses.

What are the benefits of Office 365?

The cost of upgrading every user’s Microsoft Office software can range anywhere from $200 to $400 per device. Often this upgrade is done in phases, which means that users are generally working on different versions of office, causing compatibility problems throughout the business.

Every user subscription for Office 365 comes with the latest full Microsoft Office license (currently 2013), which greatly reduces the costs involved with upgrading your Office licenses. Office 365 will also allow you to install the license onto 5 separate devices, which could be your desktop, laptop, Mac, iPad and iPhone.

Office 365 is charged on a subscription basis and is scalable, which means that you only pay for a license for each of your active users. If your staff numbers grow or contract, you only need to pay for the licenses that you need, rather than paying for a set number of licenses from the start. Your email and collaboration systems change from a capital expense to an operational expense.

Office 365 provides mobility, meaning you can access your applications and files outside of the office, either online or offline. Many different devices can access the system, including tablets and smart phones.

Microsoft ensures that your emails and data will have 99.9% uptime by utilising industry best practices, such as redundancy, resiliency, distributed services and monitoring. Any uptime less than this will result in a service credit by Microsoft.

Microsoft provides a high level of security, which includes encryption and Data Loss Prevention. Data Loss Prevention (DLP) can be used to restrict sensitive information from being transferred outside of your companies systems.

What things do you need to be aware of with Office 365?

At Excite IT, we always strive to provide the most suitable solution for every client and we know that one size does not fit all. Office 365 is not suitable for everybody and there are a number of challenges that need to be addressed before implementing.

There are more than seven different types of Office 365 subscriptions, each containing different prices, products and features. For some plans, it is not possible to change your subscription once you have set it up, which can cause major cost, productivity and time issues if the incorrect plan is chosen at the start of the process.

Office 365 may not completely remove the need for an onsite server in your office. A domain controller, file server and print server will most likely be required to continue the normal operation of your business. A cheaper, less powerful server may be required, but there will only be few situations where a server will be completely removed from your office environment.

Utilising a purely cloud based product may require additional internet bandwidth and download limits. A backup internet link is also recommended to ensure that you can still access your data if the primary internet link goes offline.

Data Sovereignty is also a consideration as currently, the data stored in Office 365 is stored in regional Microsoft Data Centres located outside of Australia. Some companies will have regulatory requirements that prevent them from storing their data outside of Australia.

Overall, we believe that Microsoft Office 365 is a great step forward in affordable and functional cloud technology. We have helped a number of companies move to Office 365 and we would be happy to discuss whether it is suitable for your business.