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Office 365: The Power; The Challenge


Office 365 is probably Microsoft’s most interesting offering at the moment. Hamstrung and beleaguered by their Windows 8 environment, Office 365 is a service that provides a lot of functionality and capability to many level of users.

The Power

Office 365 brings to small and medium size organizations the power a full enterprise deployment of the Office suite of products. It does this by renting to the small or medium size organization all of this functionality without having to buy the servers or infrastructure required to enable it. Microsoft provides the capability and manages it and the organization rents it. Suddenly, that which was only available to larger organizations with money to purchase this functionality is available to all. In essence, Office 365 democratizes Microsoft’s productivity environment.

A lot of power is made available to small and medium size organizations in a highly cost effective way. As an example, smaller organizations are able to provide full Exchange functionality or a host a capabilities that can make up an Office 365 system.

The Challenge

It is this host of capabilities that is at one time the power and at another the challenge. Office 365 is not one product offering. It’s a suite of product offerings. There’s Home Premium for $99 yearly which is different than Office 365 Small Business which provides Exchange, Lync, Skydrive Pro and Sharepoint functionality.

The challenge is simply you as the customer would not necessarily be aware of all the package offerings, the mix of capabilities in the offerings and thus the price. However, the Microsoft people themselves are having a challenging time understanding all of this.

In my case I was sold the wrong Office 365 system twice. However, now I’m on the one that’s right. Sorting through this though could take a lot of time as both you the customer and many the Microsoft employee doesn’t appreciate these differences. With the differences there’s also a big variability in cost.

Take What you Need

There’s no point in buying an Office 365 system that has capabilities you’ll never use. So if you are never going to use Sharepoint, Lync, or Skydrive Pro there’s little need to buy this and pay for the cost of additional licenses that include all this functionality.

Rather, if you need all those capabilities and are a small organization you’d probably want the Small Business edition good for 1 to 10 users. However, in this plan you have to buy only those licenses in addition to the admin’s that relates to this plan.

If you only need and will only use Exchange all you need is Exchange Online Plan 1. This is a full fledged Exchange based system wherein you pay a very reasonable price of $4 per month per license for each ID. However, if you were sold Small Business and need to be on Exchange Online plan 1 expect to undergo quite the migration to the right system.

Once There

Once you’re on the right Office 365 system this is a very good offering from Microsoft. It provides a range of capabilities but in a manner anyone can access them. The key to this working well for you though is being on the right system.

The Office suite is an incredibly powerful and mature software offering. However, not everyone needs it. If you don’t, you won’t want to pay for it. You may get on an offering though, assuming this is the only game in town, that gives you that which you don’t need.

Getting the Right Office

The only thing you can do as a customer is be aware that there are a smattering of Office 365 systems. Since Microsoft is having trouble understanding what they’re selling, it is necessary for you to arm yourself with a lot of questions to choose the right one. Finally, just knowing this is the case will lead you to the right solution.

I maintain that as frustrating as this sounds, the end result is worth it. You might want your Exchange system to provide hosted domain email of your business web system. This can be done. You might want Exchange to be your sync solution of choice for your Mac and IOS devices. Again, this is totally doable. Or you might want a full fledged Office 365 system with all the trimmings and productivity offerings and this can be obtained a reasonable price.

Should you find yourself faced with a bit of a confused offering in terms of Office 365, it is well worth working through the issue to get exactly the right package for your needs. By doing so, you can enable your organization to work in a productive fashion only available to the large enterprise.

In Microsoft’s Office 365 there is both the power and yet the challenge of getting the right system. Seek out the power as the challenge can be overcome. At times it may seem to require a great deal of perseverance however, that can take you through so that you have a winning service.

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