Today’s guest blogger is André Henrique Buss, owner of GW Computadores, a technology consulting firm that specializes in cloud-based infrastructures. Headquartered in Blumenau, Brazil, the firm works with small- and medium-size businesses in Brazil.

Today, there really isn’t a good reason for small- and medium-size businesses not to migrate to the cloud. And those that make the change sooner rather than later will gain a competitive advantage over other companies in their industry.

 

All of our clients are very interested in cloud technologies. Many of them work with larger competitors that have impressive IT infrastructures. The cloud enables a company with a single employee to use the same tools as a large, multinational corporation. It levels the playing field by giving smaller companies a powerful tool at a price that fits their budgets.

The momentum for Microsoft Office 365 couldn’t be better. We’re seeing intense interest in the cloud-based service, especially with the arrival of Office 2013, Windows 8, and Windows Server 2012. Over the past year, we’ve migrated more than half of our clients to Office 365, and we plan to move all 50 customers representing 3,000 seats by June 2013.

 

Office 365: The Right Choice for Our Clients
We always show our clients both Office 365 and Google Apps before the sale, and they always choose Office 365. The first question our customers ask is about support. They want to know what assistance they’ll receive should they run into technical problems. And they’re concerned about the level of support that Google offers. For example, Google only offers an international phone number with support in English for Brazilian customers, which is often a deal breaker. It does not offer support in Brazilian Portuguese, making it difficult to get answers to questions. In addition, our customers are concerned about the confidentiality of their information. With Google Apps, they don’t know where their information gets stored or how it will be handled.

The compatibility of Office 365 with other Office products is also an advantage. Most of our clients have used Office software for a long time and are intimately familiar with it. Since Office 365 offers the same intuitive look and feel as desktop versions of Office, there’s very little training required. Instead, employees can simply open up their email and their files, and begin working. Our clients really like tools like SharePoint and Lync, which help them to communicate and collaborate just like a large company would. While Google Apps offers some of the same functionality, it feels more bare bones.

IT administrators also find they are more productive with Office 365. They like the fact that they no longer have to worry about software patches or maintaining complex servers. And they love the additional storage capacity that they get with the cloud. Their budgets are being freed up for more strategic purposes. For example, the additional hardware that was once required for backup and auditing tasks is no longer a topic of discussion at budget meetings. And IT teams that were once busy keeping the infrastructure up and running can shift their focus to improving user interaction with products, which benefits the entire company.

Office 365: The Right Choice for Us
We at GW Computadores have used Office since we first began operating in 2001, and our own productivity continues to grow with each new version. We moved to the Microsoft cloud with Business Productivity Online Standard (BPOS) when it was first introduced, and our productivity increased even further after upgrading to Office 365. Our employees use Office 365 from their Windows Phones, which enables them to stay productive while on the road or wherever they are. And we’ve adopted Lync Online as our standard for meetings, which allows us to easily communicate and collaborate without the expense of traveling. Our own day-to-day experience with Office 365 has been phenomenal, and we always recommend it to customers.