Weighing the Pros and Cons of Office 365 Adoption

Microsoft Office 365 is a subscription service that offers not only Microsoft Office Professional but the Lync communication server, Skype, Sharepoint for workflow management and document management and MS Exchange. Microsoft Office 365 replaces the MS Office installed on every user’s computers and Outlook servers maintained by the company. Let’s weigh the pros and cons of Office 365 adoption for large and small organizations.

The Pros of Office 365 Adoption

If you need to move from common shared folders on a server to structured document management and access control, the Sharepoint document repository that comes with Office 365 is a serious upgrade. And it comes as part of the Office 365 package instead of having to pay for Microsoft Office licenses for the entire company and buying Sharepoint separately.

The subscription model allows you to pay per user. Instead of buying 500 licenses and only using 350 at a time, you’ll pay for only 350 licenses. If you hire a few new people, the system Microsoft provides for license management makes it easy to pay for a few more users.

Deployment of Sharepoint through Microsoft Office 365 takes as long as is required to process payment and set up user accounts. Setting up Sharepoint as a document repository and data management system separately on your own cloud could take months.

The Azure platform on which Office 365 runs is highly reliable, though it’s not at the nearly 100% level of many Linux servers.

Office 365 sits on the cloud, providing up to one terabyte of storage per user. You can pay for more storage for users or the entire organization as required.

The Office 365 standard package supports an email system without having to have a separate hosted exchange server or administrator.

Office 365 allows your employees to access their files and the Office 365 tools like Sharepoint through a web portal for most plans. More limited functionality is available through the Office 365 app.

By storing all documents on Office 365 by default, everyone with access can edit or collaborate on a document. The tools contain version control and version tracking, which some cheaper document management systems do not.

Microsoft handles all the software updates for you. You eliminate the hassle of installing, patching, managing and upgrading the entire Microsoft Office suite.

If the current suite of functions isn’t good enough, it is easy to upgrade to another plan. And Microsoft supports downgrades, too, as your needs or budget mandate.

Data on Microsoft Office 365 is synchronized. When you send an email from your smartphone, it is seen in the sent folder when you log onto your computer. When you save a file to the cloud from your laptop, it is available on your smartphone.

The Cons of Office 365 Adoption

Microsoft’s Office 365 provides a mid-grade level of security. If you need higher levels of security, Office 365 isn’t good enough as is. And don’t even think about trying to store data with Microsoft Office 365 if you are a defense contractor unless you pay for enterprise licensing, and even then it’s a maybe. If you use a hybrid cloud solution, such as storing classified and highly restricted data on a private cloud but many other documents on a public cloud, you’ll probably need to pay for third party tools to work with Microsoft Office 365.

Microsoft limits how many emails you can receive and send per day. If your company relies heavily on email marketing and especially high volume email marketing or simply receives many customer support emails, Office 365’s email quotas and limits on the email server’s memory may make it unworkable.

If your employee loses access to the internet, they can’t access data. If your company suffers a denial of service attack or service disruption, you can’t work locally.

Microsoft Office 365 adoption takes away your ability to customize integration with third party applications.

You lose the ability to control when data is backed up, how backups are stored, and when backups are destroyed.

Using Microsoft Office 365 lets you use some older versions of Microsoft Office and files created in them. However, Office 365 may not be compatible with your line of business applications. Test thoroughly before you assume Microsoft Office will work with your critical business applications.

Observations about Office 365 Adoption

When you have a very large organization, Office 365 may not be enough. If your business needs strict access control for emails and the related functionality, you have to add on a PowerShell interface.

Microsoft’s access controls to data and backup services may not meet regulatory requirements for medical practices or financial firms. Consult with an IT security expert instead of assuming Microsoft Office 365 works for your case. Conversely, Microsoft’s built in advanced threat analytics looks for suspicious behavior on the network and notifies employees if something seems unusual. The linked-in email server automatically blocks malicious attachments, as well.

While Office 365 provides Sharepoint for document management and workflows, the version in Office 365 is limited. If you need customized object management workflows or notifications, you’ll have to work with a third party integration tool.

Given the sheer demand for migration by businesses and nonprofits to move to Microsoft Office 365, a number of tools have come onto the market to make the migration to Office 365 easier. For example, the ExchangeSavvy Public Folder Migrator smoothly migrates public folders to MS Office 365. Tools like Exchange Savvy can even complete this process without any downtime.

Microsoft Office 365 allows for employees who are set up to do so to access the system from personal devices and from home. The slower connection most homes have, though, could make the most resource intensive functions on Office 365 run slowly. Too many such home based users will slow down the system for everyone. Conversely, Microsoft Office 365 is one of the few such cloud based services to offer mobile device management. If someone’s smart phone or tablet is stolen or lost, the company can have the device remotely wiped of all company data to protect the information from falling into the wrong hands.

Depending on the plan, you can either pay for Office 365 monthly or annually. Microsoft offers discounts for annual subscriptions for some but not all plans.

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