Why not? To continue on our series on Office 365 and then you can decide if you want to move to Office 365 or not.

In the previous post, we introduced the concept of the ‘in the cloud’ offering from Microsoft namely Office 365 and what is the offering under the banner of Office 365.

The next question that may pop is “Why Office 365?”

In my opinion, there is no competition for Office 365. Simply nothing. If you start looking at some of the freebies or alternatives, it is not justified at all – since no one offers what Office 365 offers – namely

  • Office Web Apps  – Office Suite of Applications in the cloud
  • Exchange Online -  Email and Calendar – in the cloud with Microsoft Exchange 2010
  • SharePoint Online – In the cloud using SharePoint! PLUS create your web site with SharePoint Online and you can have a presence in minutes!
  • Lync  – Connect, message and meet virtually using Lync Online
  • Office 2010 Professional Plus – licensed per user, pay by the month [plan dependent]

Can there be any comparison? I won’t even get ‘fruits’ in this equation if you know what I mean…

The benefits to move to the cloud with Office 365 are far too many to list here, but if we look at a high level overview, take either Exchange or SharePoint on premise – design, deployment, maintenance and upgrade overheads your head and wallet will go for a spin!

I’ll take SharePoint as a micro case study…. without going into the detailed planning, design, deployment …. 

I’ll skip the planning, design stages of the project – because you need to do that even if you are moving to the cloud, else it will be more messier then on-premise deployment.

So getting down to the deployment, after planning and design stage – it’s very easy to get started with SharePoint Online as compared to SharePoint On-Premise! It’s as easy as signing up for the service, provision the site collection(s) / sites (as per the design), add users (pay as you go for the users accessing the services) and off you go… all these in couple of hours, subject to a very well documented plan and design is in place.

Compute the time and costs involved in the case of

  • Procuring and commissioning the hardware
  • Deployment
  • Maintenance

Compare this with getting started with the online solution

  • Sign up
  • Add Users ( I am not taking the federated route here, to keep it simple)
  • Assign Licenses for Services
  • Provision site collections / sites

You literally don’t have to worry about scalability, reliability and the infrastructure overheads! It’s all Microsoft’s headache now! If it breaches SLA, you get credit for the same!

Sure, online solution does not offer everything just yet and you could go in for a hybrid solution or wait …

Check out some of the external resources that will clear out the ‘cloud’ of doubt as to “Why Office 365?”

http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9216887/Why_We_Chose_Exchange_Online_Not_Google_Apps
http://blogs.msdn.com/b/socal-sam/archive/2011/05/12/google-docs-openoffice-versus-office-365.aspx
http://www.lookscloudy.com/2011/05/good-luck-google-docs
http://www.itproportal.com/2011/06/07/office-365-sky-view/

Most geeks I know, have already signed for the small business plan offered in Office 365 – costs $6.00 per month and the value for money well spent is in

  • Office Web Apps – Office Suite of Applications in the cloud
  • Exchange Online – Email and Calendar – in the cloud with Microsoft Exchange 2010
  • SharePoint Online – In the cloud using SharePoint! PLUS create your web site with SharePoint Online and you can have a presence in minutes!
  • Lync – Connect, message and meet virtually using Lync Online

Sure, you don’t get enterprise features of SharePoint Online, but for $6.00 this is a steal!

I have migrated from BPOS to Office 365 and forthcoming blog posts in a series will help you move to Office 365 from BPOS, because at the time of writing this post, Microsoft don’t have any tools or mechanisms in place to help you move! Stay tuned because I already have scheduled the posts to go live over a span of couple of weeks.

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