Thanks to Microsoft and Westcoast Distribution for a great day yesterday reviewing and updating us on the plans and options for Microsoft Office 365 and Westcoast Cloud Computing. Harjeet Kumar od Microsoft gave a detailed view of the changes in the latest Office 365 suite of solutions and the changing cloud storage options.
Things are a changing. And changing fast. Windows XP and Office 2003, tools used by millions of people are reaching their end of life. Microsoft are putting these out to pasture next year and all support, updates and upgrades will crease. As they are over 10 years old this is not unreasonable.
Coupled with the rise of Cloud computing and super-fast always on Broadband the options to available to replaces XP and Office 2003 are many. Microsoft is keen to retain and embrace all users of Windows and Office and is actively pushing Office365 as the replacement solution.
So just what is Office365? Microsoft’s description is as often the case with Microsoft, confusing: Try this.
“Office 365” refers to subscription plans that include access to Office applications plus other productivity services that are enabled over the Internet (cloud services), such as Lync web conferencing and Exchange Online hosted email for business, and additional online storage with SkyDrive and Skype world minutes for home.
Many Office 365 plans also include the desktop version of the latest Office applications, which users can install across multiple computers and devices. The Office 365 plans that are online-only are a great choice for certain business needs, and they are compatible with desktop versions of the latest version of Office, Office 2010, Office 2007 (with slightly limited functionality), Office 2011 for Mac, and Office 2008 for Mac.
All Office 365 plans are paid for on a subscription basis, monthly or annually.
Part of the description problem is that Microsoft have a range of Offce365 products with a range of features and benefits. In a nutshell Office 365 provides: High quality e-mail provided as a service with a few snazzy additional products including SharePoint, storage of data in a cloud hosted server, Lynch, Internal Instant Messaging. And for certain flavours of Office365 you get the classic Microsoft Office Professional suite of Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook, Publisher and Access. All this is available as a service. You no longer go to the shops and purchase an Office CD. No, you now subscribe and pay per month.
An Office 365 solution is scalable and serves an organisation of virtually any size, from a single user to many hundreds of users. For small business it provides a great cost-effective solution with little if any IT requirements as the service is delivered on-line. For larger business Office365 provides a scalable, flexible, enterprise quality service for e-mail and Office at a fixed monthly cost.
As a Microsoft Cloud partner, Taybridge offers Office365 to its clients and manages the transition to the cloud based solution from any existing platform.
Office365 is also pretty good value for money. To replace Office 2003 with Office 2013 and an enterprise grade e-mail account costs a handful of pounds per month. See quick overview of the options here.
Microsoft has invested in huge date storage facilities with massive data centres in Dublin and Amsterdam each the size of 6 football fields. All you data is stored there in encrypted form. The exciting news is that there is now the option for Offie365 to use external data storage so clients can build their own cloud storage or work with a re-seller, such as Taybridge to use a 3rd party managed cloud. Taybridge Consulting now offers cloud solutions to its clients for hosting and running e-mail along with document storage, Lynch communications and website hosting.
Microsoft has also revamped InTune, the Windows as a service offering. InTune provides an upgrade to the latest version of Windows Professional and a rather cool on-line security and management tool. With our clients we can access their PC’s and monitor their status with regards to loaded software, patch installations, updates and anti-virus. Again this is sold on a monthly fee and provides Windows as a service.
In summary – Office 365 provides a complete suite of Office applications and e-mail delivered as a service for a known monthly fee. Benefits: Complete office tools and high quality e-mail for a low monthly fee. – InTune provides Windows, anti-virus and desktop management as a service.