I've been seeing, and helping to drive lots of conversations around 'the cloud' in my seven retail accounts. BPOS (Business Productivity Online Services, or the 2007 versions of Exchange, Sharepoint, Live Meeting and OCS running in someone elses datacenter has seen intense interest for a number of reasons - driving down the cost of providing systems, shifting capex to opex, and even enabling upgrades to the latest versions of these tools without incremental cost to the business has resulted in pilots or deployments in over half of those accounts in 12 short months. While all this has been happening we've been aware that the current on premise version of these tools is the 2010 release, and the BPOS equivalent which was code named 'Union' has been in the pipe for what feels like quite a long time.

On Oct 19th Microsoft announced the 'Wave 14' version of BPOS will officially be known as Office 365 and introduced some significant changes as well as the upgrades to the 2010 capabilities. First off, Office 365 now includes the option of purchasing Office - both full blown Professional plus and web apps, depending on the user requirements. To deliver the flexibility required to make this work, there are 7 different options which is a big increase on the 3 previous possibilities.

We also have amended the Enterprise Agreement (EA) so a single EA covers an organisation for both on-premises & online, allowing mix & match licensing of users and devices. It's a really powerful tool especially if an organisation is still in the process of deciding what it's response to the cloud is likely to be.   

It's worth flagging that there are new requirements to be able to consume Office 365 - you need to have provided IE8, ADFS, and there is no longer support for Office 2003 clients.

Back in March Steve Ballmer stated that 70% of MS developers were working on cloud related technology, growing to 90% within 12 months, which may have raised eyebrows at the time, but this is a great example of just how seriously we are taking enabling agility.

Check out the link below or reach out to me if you want to know more.

http://office365.microsoft.com/en-US/online-services.aspx