Yesterday in New York City, Steve Ballmer announced the general availability of Microsoft Office 365.
Office 365 is the long-awaited successor to Business Productivity Online Services (BPOS). BPOS at the core was Exchange Server 2007 and SharePoint Server 2007 in the cloud. Also included was Office Live Meeting which could be used for hosting conference calls and presentations.
Office 365 in some ways is an evolution of BPOS, but there is so much more to Office 365 that I see it as an entirely new offering. The offerings in Office 365 are much improved from a cloud services architecture standpoint I’ve included a chart below listing the differences between the two products.
With Office 365, collaboration and communication are on a whole other level. By combining Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync in a cloud solution, Microsoft has made it easy for small businesses to have access to enterprise size technologies at a reasonable price and without having to deal with any of the infrastructure, licensing, and personnel overhead.
What do I mean by enterprise size technologies? Let’s take a look.
- Mail, Contacts, and Calendar powered by Exchange 2010
- Instant Messaging, Live Meetings, and Audio / Video conferencing powered by Lync 2010
- Collaborative Team Sites powered by SharePoint 2010
Best part about Office 365 though, is that they have a pricing model to fit everyone’s needs. Starts out at $2/user all the way up to $27/user based on the services provided. For small businesses and individuals, it’s only six bucks a month!
I’m currently in the process of migrating my single person Google Apps account to Office 365 and will then be migrating my personal e-mail over and then I’ll be relying entirely on the cloud. So far so good. The only hitch I have run into is that I signed up as a partner and there is a bit of a lag between account setup and when the actual licenses show up and are available to be used. Not a big deal. Other than that, I strongly recommend that users keep control of their DNS settings and manually set the appropriate Office 365 settings. I’ve seen too many comments in the Office 365 forums about inability to modify when MS Online has control.
Once I start using Office 365 on a daily basis, I’ll post more of my thoughts, but so far, it’s been pain free.
For more on Office 365, visit http://www.office365.com
If by some chance, you’re a small business in Arizona, and want to talk more about Office 365 and how it might fit in your business, send me an e-mail. tom (at) tomontech (dot) com