Microsoft Office 365 is a top choice for enterprises that want a cloud-based suite of productivity/ collaboration applications. With Office 365, you get access to Microsoft Office solutions practically anytime, anywhere, on virtually any device. It’s a great option for current Microsoft users who can now build on their experience with Microsoft solutions while enjoying the flexibility of a cloud-based delivery. But even organizations with no previous investment in Microsoft will find that Office 365 has a lot to offer in terms of comprehensiveness, security, support for “hybrid” implementations and more.
1) No One Size Fits All
There really is no single “Office 365.” Yes, all of the plans provide access to the cloud-based Office Online (i.e., Word and Excel), but beyond that they have different options with varying levels of application functionality. Mixing and matching of plans is definitely an option, one that you need to evaluate thoroughly.
2) Premise, Cloud or Hybrid
In addition to all of the different applications options, customers can also mix and match cloud and on-premise capabilities. You can be “hybrid,” moving some Office 365 users to the cloud while keeping others “on-premise” for compliance or operational reasons. Your users will never know the difference, and you get to use the same feature-rich tools across online and on-premise servers. A hybrid scenario is common for many enterprises that have both a mobile and fixed workforce. Implementing single sign-on with Active Directory Federation Services can help deliver the seamless access needed to get the best of both worlds and a familiar experience.
3) Preparing Your Infrastructure
Moving applications and services to the cloud inevitably increases the demands on your network infrastructure. Your end users are accustomed to the high performance of locally provided services. So when moving these local services to cloud-hosted Office 365, it’s important to anticipate performance issues and other complexities that can arise during, and after, the migration. It’s not unusual for customers to reinvest the savings they derive from Office 365 into increased bandwidth, which has benefits across the business.
4) Provisioning Your Office 365 Environment
In principle, making the transition to Office 365 involves setting up the appropriate accounts, the access permissions, file integrations and, in the case of existing users, transitioning current premise-based solutions to cloud. It can be simple—that’s why many providers of Office 365 treat onboarding as a “self-service” activity that customers complete on their own.
5) Migrating Your Email
Email is one of the first Office 365 applications that enterprises move fully to the cloud, and often one of the most challenging. Migrating email data, third-party utilities, spam filter settings, server permissions and more can be burdensome. It’s at this point in the process where network bandwidth issues can be a problem: an organization with low bandwidth and a lot of data to move can experience performance disruptions. Migration tools can help overcome this and can help make the process painless.
6) Custom Integrations
Office 365 applications are effective on their own, but an important option that comes is the ability to integrate with third-party tools. Proper technical design for third party integrations with automated processes of approving license model, has the advantage of integrating both Microsoft solutions and leading third-party solutions from world-class providers that complement the Office 365 offer. Such tools include Enterprise Mobility Management, Enterprise Archiving and Desktop-as-a-Service.
Concerns over security keep many organizations—especially those in healthcare and financial services—from moving to the cloud, but those concerns are lessening. Microsoft is proud that it was the first major cloud-based productivity service to employ security frameworks based on International Standards Organization (ISO/IEC 27001:2005) standards and is ISO 27001-certified by independent auditors. Office 365 is also contractually committed to the EU Model Clauses and HIPAA Business Associate Agreements. Furthermore, Exchange Online includes comprehensive, integrated archiving and e-discovery tools that can search the entire Office 365 infrastructure (Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and Skype for Business), making it possible for many organizations to meet compliance and governance requirements within a single infrastructure. Proper consulting services are required to design tailored solutions, including dedicated, private server solutions, to address unique compliance and regulatory requirements.
Ongoing account support is an important consideration in any Office 365 implementation and is one of the major factors that brings organizations to deploy Office 365. With this support, issues can be opened via phone, email and on the Web using a customer-facing portal. For issues that cannot be addressed by internal IT team or vendor who supports the tenant can quickly escalate issues to Microsoft support, ensuring that users experience the shortest lead times possible.
9) End Point Configuration
If a natural disaster, power outage, or other unexpected event strikes your primary place of business, having a co-located IT infrastructure can speed your recovery. But it’s important to note that co location all by itself is not a business continuity/disaster recovery (BC/DR) solution. For example, co location does not include data/applications replication to a second location. It does not include recovery processes and assignment of responsibility in the event of a disaster. However, co location can be an important first step in creating a BC/DR solution that’s right for any scale of organization.
10) The Future
While organizations’ adoption of cloud technologies is an established trend, the extension of cloud resources to an end-user workforce is still nascent. Software-as-a-Service solutions have paved the way for this transition, and organizations like Microsoft are pushing the boundaries. With enhanced capabilities like the ability to add the “social dimension” across various workloads such as email, document management and file storage, providers are breaking down the barriers to concerted operations.