Enterprise Business Productivity Blog
Today’s guest blog post is from Andrew Kisslo, Group Manager, on the Office 365 team. He provides insight into what CIOs should know about the cloud, and specifically Office 365.
With the recent release of the Microsoft Office 365 public beta, I’ve been getting a lot of questions from C-suite executives about the benefits of Microsoft’s web-enabled business productivity solution. What should I know about it? And how does it compare to competitive solutions? While there are many important benefits about the cloud and Office 365, here are five things every CIO should know:
1. The cloud can reduce costs. When talking about the cloud, technology leaders often take a laser focus on user license costs alone. It’s important to take a more holistic view on the financial benefits. First make sure you factor in all of your existing costs, including hardware, power, even cost per square foot to internally house servers. Migrating your business productivity applications to the cloud certainly reduces the number of servers you need to buy, maintain, and upgrade. On average, we believe a customer could save 30% on email costs alone by going to the cloud. As an added benefit, some customers are able to treat cloud subscriptions as operating expenses rather than capital expenditures, which can translate into more predictable expenses over the long term.
2. Microsoft delivers the cloud on your terms . Whether you want your computing environment completely in the cloud, entirely on premises, or a mix of both, we offer the solution that fits your needs. Office 365 is designed to work with your existing infrastructure so you can avoid an “all or nothing” deployment for the cloud. Customers who have enterprise agreements (EA) with Microsoft can use the EA Amendments to leverage existing licenses, which Gartner believes could facilitate cloud adoption. Such flexibility gives decision makers the ability to handle diverse business challenges such as on-boarding employees from a merger or acquisition, deploying solutions for a faraway subsidiary, or even targeting specific employee segments such as factory workers for cost-effective IT projects.
3. Office 365 can democratize IT. Office 365 comes in a wide variety of editions so enterprises can provide the right capabilities to specific employee groups. In fact, companies such as Hyatt Hotels & Resorts and Codelco (a mining company) are using the cloud as a cost-effective way to bring workers such as maintenance staff and miners, who were once disenfranchised from IT, into their information network. There’s no need for a cork board in the lunchroom anymore. At the same time, these companies can use Office 365 enterprise editions or on-premises solutions for their information workers. As a result, everyone is on the same page and IT becomes the hero for providing cost-effective IT solutions that drive better business strategy.
4. Office 365 is familiar and secure across the PC, phone or browser. Today’s reality is that IT is being asked to support an increasingly diverse set of computing platforms. Choice is good for all but it can come with added costs around things like re-training employees or basic document exchange issues across platforms. This is why we support broader access while providing familiar tools for employees. For example, we now support Outlook as the email client in Office for Mac 2011. Office Web Apps also work across IE, Firefox, Safari and even Google Chrome, which means workers can now do lightweight editing from any computer without the need to have an Office license installed on the machine. Finally, since Exchange ActiveSync is the industry standard for mobile device management on iPhones, Symbian, Android and, of course, Windows Phone 7 devices, IT can feel confident about enforcing remote mobile access with up to 40 security policies such as pin lock.
5. Microsoft delivers enterprise-level support. Moving part of your IT workload to the cloud essentially requires contracting out the support that goes along with it. At Microsoft, we take the responsibility seriously. When we say we’re committed to providing top-level support, we really mean it. This goes beyond 24 x 7 phone numbers—it also means robust service dashboards, support ticketing engines and of course a 99.9% SLA with meaningful penalties such as up to 100% credit for outages. Other vendors such as Google cap their maximum credit at two weeks, regardless of their impact to your business. That seems to benefit the vendor rather than the customer.
These are some of the many reasons why Office 365 is gearing up to be the solution of choice among enterprises. Already, more than 40 million paid users leverage Microsoft online services and solutions. These include 500 government agencies, 13 of the 20 top telecommunications firms, 15 of the top 20 global banks, and 16 of the top 20 global pharmaceutical companies.
Has your organization signed up for the Office 365 beta ? We’d love to hear your experience.
I think Office 365 is the obvious choice. It seems custmizable and obviously robust. We are looking forward to using it it within our enteprise.