Via my employer Orange Business Services I already had an Office365 beta user account from december 2010. Building on the great experience I have been dying to write about the great functionality, easy of use and flexibility, not to mention the user friendlyness. Microsoft has year of experience on building practical interfaces and has many methods on getting a solid understanding on requested user functionality. Yes it is more expensive than Google Apps, but it like comparing a Porsche to a Chinese car manufacturer. Both can drive, but do you want to be seen in the chinese car?
Now beginning april the public beta has been released opening the trial to the public, with a massive amount of tenants created each day. I’ll be writing on my testing and demoing experience with my own tenant with 25 users.
Office 365 is the next release of BPOS, consisting of the 2007 familie, exchange, sharepoint and OCSR2. O365 has the latest releases of server products in a cloud offering with per user flexibility:
- Exchange 2010
- Sharepoint 2010
- Lync 2010
- Ofice 2010 Professional Plus
Microsoft has split their offering into several target groups
- SME (small medium enterprises 1-150 users)
- Enterprise offering
- Federal (US specific)
For the enterprise market there are two main service offerings,
- E-plan (full offering)
- K-plan (kiosk workers)
Each plan has several options, coming from E1 to E4, where the basic E1 is already very rich in functionality, including a 25GB mailbox with exchange sufficient for the average corporate.
Major improvements of Office365 compared to BPOS:
- Federated Identities
- Hybrid design, mix in the cloud with on-premise solutions
- 2FA (two facor authentication)
- Rich co-existence and migration co-existence
- Flexible co-existence
Special attention should be given to proper planning before migrating towards Office365.
- Connectivity is currently only possible via the internet
- Client requirements should be checked and a baseline should be made compared to existing environment
- Federated identities and ADFSv2
- Existing Active directory structure and health to be ready for directory synchronisation
- Regulatory requirements
- Network and technical security readiness
With these new possibilities a typical scenario could be Exchange en Sharepoint Online and Lync Hosted (on-premise). A company might want to keep Lync on premise because the online option does not support pbx replace, or full conferencing options. So if voice and lync need to be combined then integration via SIP trunking needs to be done. The same is the case for integrating video solutions like Cisco/Tandberg, Polycom, Lifesize, Vidyo or Radvision. You can also wonder if you want quality for your executives and sales people or be reliant on the congested internet for drop sensitive multi media traffic. Don’t be penny wise and pound fulish here. Bad experience leads to non usage, resulting in a bad business case, less travel reduction and limited collaboration possibilities. This is waste of time, resources and money. Where 2010 was the year of cost reduction, 2011 is the year of agility and transformation.
So now the public beta has arrived, you can sign-up here Office 365 beta signup for free and get access for 6 months.
The admin console has links to numerous content like the community, wiki’s, deployment guides, beta service descriptions etc. There is so much information documents, technet articles and content that everything is availible to prepare youself for going towards the cloud. But are you ready for the cloud?
A proper assesment has to be done to detemine your cloud readiness, from a technical, connectivity, security, regulatory and organisational perspective. This is not trivial exercise. Support from externals could be most helpfull here, they can help you guide you and make a cloud migration roadmap. So it’s not just is the cloud ready for you (which it is with this release), but definetely is your organizational also ready for the cloud?
More information on Office 365 can be found here:
A view on the user perspective:
Office 365 user portal
Admin Portal, the portal for cloud flexibility:
Office365 admin portal