Sometimes people refer to the cloud as a "disruptive" technology. But that's really the wrong word to describe Office 365. Constructive? Yes. Practical? That, too. Microsoft understands that businesses don't care for surprises. We have gone to great lengths to make Office 365 familiar and easy to use.
New capabilities, no matter how powerful in theory, don't deliver value unless users use them. That's why Office 365 is all about lighting up Office - the desktop and Web-based productivity tools that users rely on every day. For example, it takes little to no training for users to take advantage of the presence information in Office that becomes available with Office 365. It just works, immediately, easily enabling more efficient collaboration and decision-making.
Now let's look at how Office 365 doesn't disrupt your datacenter. First of all, you can choose a plan that enables coexistence. That means you can keep your on-premises Exchange Server and Lync Server and integrate them with Office 365 services. Therefore if some users are on Exchange Server and others are using Exchange Online, they can share free/busy information-no silos, no disconnect. If you want to take advantage of the PBX replacement scenario available with Lync Server, you can do that while using Exchange in the cloud. Coexistence* gives you the flexibility to migrate to the cloud at your own pace, keep certain users on-premises for compliance or other reasons, and get the right mix of features and architecture for your business.
Notice we said "choose a plan." That's also an important point-there's a range of plans available to enterprises, and you can mix and match them as you need. If some users need Office Web Apps and others don't, you can do that. If you have some kiosk workers who don't have dedicated PCs and just need lightweight, Web-based access, you can do that. If you need coexistence, you can do that, too. It's your choice and you can get what works for your business.
Of course, one of the benefits of cloud-based productivity services is that you get the latest features without having to do much. But, our approach to this style of innovation is business-focused-that is, surprisingly surprise-free. We plan to update the services frequently with deliberate, responsible, fully-tested capabilities and upgrades. It's innovation that is customer-centered rather than for its own sake.
Hopefully, this post has given you some insight into how Microsoft takes a measured, customer-centric approach to productivity in the cloud. In the next post, we'll talk about how we deliver enterprise-class security and reliability so you don't have to.
* Check out the Exchange Server Deployment Assistant, which provides customized instructions for your business about how to configure rich coexistence
Allen Filush, Office 365 Product Manager