Microsoft Office365: Friend or Foe?

Microsoft’s Office365 is finally ready for prime time.  And we’re ready to help you implement it.  But you should keep some very important things in mind if you decide to take the plunge.

Office365 is an extremely powerful package of software and services which includes:

  • Microsoft Office 2013 (Word, Outlook, Excel, PowerPoint…)
  • Microsoft Exchange (Enterprise e-mail server)
  • Microsoft Sharepoint (Document Management & collaboration)
  • Microsoft Lync (Instant Messaging, basic video & voice)

Office365 is cloud-based, so you can access your data from anywhere,  from any device.  And what makes this even more attractive is that Microsoft have packaged these services together & now sells them on a per-user, monthly subscription basis.

This is an ideal solution for very small organizations: it provides them with the best business software available anywhere at a reasonable price, and since it’s cloud-based doesn’t require on-premise servers or heavy hardware investments.

All in all, this is a very attractive offer.

But there’s a catch – and it’s a big one:

Microsoft will own you forever if you switch to Office365.

You think I’m kidding?

Cloud-based services are still very new, so learning how to make the transition from boxed software to a cloud-based environment is still murky.  The downside to cloud-based services is that you lose a lot of control of your own information.  These are very serious, very real questions you have to ask yourself before making the switch to any cloud-based system:

  • Are we comfortable with Microsoft providing reasonable security & privacy of our data in their ‘Cloud?’
  • Are we comfortable with Microsoft providing reasonable uptime & accessibility of our data in their ‘Cloud?’
  • If we are sued, would it be possible for Microsoft to turn our data over to legal entities without our permission?
  • If Microsoft decides to stop offering one or more of the services, do we get our data back?
  • If Microsoft decides to increase pricing, can we pay it?
  • If we can’t handle any of the above, is there a mechanism for getting all of our stuff back out of Microsoft’s cloud?

And it should be noted: if you stop paying Microsoft for monthly services, you lose access to everything your business depends on.

I know I’m picking on Microsoft here — but honestly, I trust them more than some of the other cloud players (Google, Apple) when it comes to protecting business data.  Microsoft may be a corporate behemoth that trips over themselves at times, but they “Get it.”  We do recommend (and install, and support) Office365 over a similar offering by Google, but we realize The Cloud is not for everyone and may never be.

If you have questions about this or any other cloud-based services, feel free to contact us!

-Brian Place, 5/2013