A little while I wrote a piece about choosing which edition of Office 2013 to get. Judging on the number of questions I get about Office 365 there seems to be some misunderstanding as to what it actually is.
Many people see it as just a different way of getting the Office desktop software on their computer and paying monthly rather than buying a copy outright.
It’s not. It’s much more than that.
In a nutshell, Office 365 is Microsoft’s collective brand for their SaaS (Software as a Service) or Cloud portfolio. It comprises of a number of different elements, of which the key ones we will explore here.
This is Microsoft’s Hosted Exchange service – rather than having your Exchange Server on a server in your office this is where your email is provided as a service. Key benefits are no server, no need to worry about backup and very high uptime or availability.
SharePoint with Office WebApps
SharePoint is an interesting one. In some respects it can be considered as a document management system, but really it fits in to the Intranet/Extranet space and allows you to publish documents, shared content etc to both internal and external parties. Additionally, it also comes with Office Web Apps which is essentially a cut down version of Word, Excel and PowerPoint which will allow you to edit documents within the Browser without having to have the applications installed locally, or needing to download the document before editing (which you still can if you want).
Lync is an internal communication system a bit like Skype except it’s a bit more private. It will link into your Outlook calendar so other people in your directory can see if you’re in based on your diary (it will also change to away if you’re away from your desk for a while) and there is a mobile app that you can have on your iPhone.
Office Professional Plus
The desktop software is the normal Office 2013 we already know. However this is the subscription version and (if you have it) will link in to your SharePoint site so you can access documents on your SharePoint site.
Additionally you can add things like Dynamics CRM online and other applications such as Project Professional and they will integrate in to your overall Office 365 package.
Do I need it?
It often depends on what you want and how you operate as a business. Personally, if you want a nice wrapped up solution that can provide a significant amount of your business technology in one place then I think it’s ideal. If you like running the very latest version of Office and other applications then it’s also ideal from a software lifecycle perspective and allows your entire organisation to be on the same version.
The big catch is that support from Microsoft directly is very limited and rely on Cloud Partners, such as us, to provide the skills in developing, implementing and supporting businesses using 365 as a platform.
If you’re giving it some thought and ready to start moving services in to the cloud then please get in touch to talk about this or any other Cloud services you might be considering.