Do you manage an Exchange organization?  What about a company SharePoint? 

“Yeah.. but we’re a couple versions back.” 

You’re in good company.  I hear that a lot.  There are some amazing capabilities in the latest versions - Exchange 2010 and SharePoint 2010, but as usual, moving to the next version is not something we always have the time/resources/money to do as soon as we’d like.  But still there is this amazingly rich set of productivity experiences that we could get if we have those, along with Lync 2010 (new version of what was Office Communications Server (OCS)).

 Paramount Productivity

We want Unified Communications, Business Intelligence, powerful content management, collaboration, search… and we want it on our PCs, Macs, pads, and smart phones.

“Yeah, Kevin.  I want all of that.  But can I have all of that without having to build it all in-house?”

Yes, you can.  Or at least you will be able to have that all very soon.  Office 365 is coming soon.  Currently in beta, Office 365 is the suite of Microsoft Products, hosted in the cloud, that give you all of that rich productivity that you want.  For a monthly subscription cost per-user, you and your companies will potentially have all of those tools at your disposal.  And you don’t have to install servers or upgrade applications to make that happen.

“Do I have to throw out what I have?  I don’t want to have a whole new set of credentials that my users have to use to log-in to some online portal.  I like my Active Directory.”

You have a lot of options.  You can keep your directory, and Office 365 lets you (and helps you) federate the authentication – So your users will have a single sign-on experience.. being authenticated to the online services essentially via your existing directory. 

Office 365 is cloudy!“What about Exchange?  Do I have to migrate all of my mailboxes to the cloud?”

Again, you’ll  have a lot of flexibility there.  You can essentially extend your Exchange organization (if you’re on Exchange 2010) into the cloud!  Some mailboxes in-house, and others in the cloud; and your users won’t know or care where their mailbox actually resides.  In fact, you might say “I want mailboxes in my datacenter, but I’d like to use Exchange 2010’s new archiving functionality.  So I’ll leave the mailboxes here, but their archive mailbox will be in the cloud.” 

These are only a couple of examples.  Rich, persistent presence information… multi-person audio/video/web conferencing… web applications (Office WebApps) for working with documents from a browser… these are all benefits of the newest versions of our Office products, and you can have it all as a Software-as-a-Service purchase.

Oh.. and before I forget… your users can even have the full Office 2010 Professional Plus suite on their PCs as part of the subscription, too.  You’ll give them a link to your new company portal, and we walk them through a simple download, install, and configuration that sets them up completely to work with your new cloud-based productivity applications.

How cool is that?

Here are some relevant links for you if you’d like to learn more:

Office 365 – http://office365.microsoft.com

Sign-up for the beta - http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/office365/which-beta.aspx

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Are you considering Office 365?  Are you already a BPOS customer and looking to move to Office 365 when it’s available?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

Tomorrow in part 23 I’m going to introduce you to some future possibilities… like maybe buying your own PaaS cloud-in-a-box.