There is a lot of emphasis on the benefits of Office 365 for large enterprises, but small and medium-sized companies are reaping the rewards of this collaboration platform as well. Office 365 is a widely used Software-as-a-Service (SaaS (News - Alert)) cloud offering that provides solutions such as e-mail hosting, collaboration and communication products.
A recent article in The Register made some assertions about Office 365 that WindowIT Pro’s Tony Redmond felt obliged to analyze in a recent blog post – since some of them were valid and others seemed…well, odd.
According to Redmond, “The discussion focused on Exchange Online and ignored SharePoint Online and Lync Online. It often happens that Office 365 is equated to Exchange, possibly because e-mail is the primary reason for companies to consider moving to Office 365.”
In reference to The Register (News - Alert) article, it led off with: “As a salable product, I find Office 365 extremely curious; it’s workable enough if you have a decade or two’s experience beating Exchange into submission ... but a little too complex for anyone else.”
Redmond gave the disclaimer that he has at least a decade of experience with Exchange, which automatically gives him a different vantage point of Office 365 than the article’s author, Trevor Pott.
“The article then goes on to discuss basic e-mail and compares Exchange Online to sendmail, concluding that the restrictions imposed by Microsoft (News - Alert) are “severe.”
“There’s some validity to question the limits that Microsoft has chosen, but I think it’s also fair to say that most hosted services impose some restrictions on users (otherwise a rogue user might consume a large percentage of available system resources) and that Microsoft increased the original limits in January 2012 as a result of user feedback,” countered Redmond.
Any new technology service is met with questions about its relevance, and is immediately compared to like-minded products of the past and present.
“Office 365 is still a relatively new service that’s growing rapidly and a reasonable case can be made that Microsoft needs to err on the side of caution until they develop more sophisticated methods for throttling user demands,” Redmond added.
The Register article also looks at the usability of the Office 365 public folders, and stated: “The Office 365 solution to public folder management? Outlook and/or OWA + PowerShell.”
Redmond assessed this as “an odd conclusion” because Office 365 doesn’t support public folders at all and this is “one of the key blocking points for some companies who would like to use Office 365 but can’t because they have either a large amount of data in public folders or use Outlook 2003.”
Getting to the crux of the issue, the Register article honed in on the idea that Office 365 is not meant for SMBs. Redmond, as you might guess, countered such a claim.
The Register article commented, “Office 365 is a step backwards here. It simply isn’t a solution I can set up for a client and wash my hands of. Your typical small business moving away from Small Business Server 2003 is not going to be able to manage and maintain Office 365. They will still end up needing an IT guy for any but the most minor changes.”
However, according to Redmond, the market indicates that many small businesses are moving from platforms such as Small Business Server to Office 365. And typically, small businesses usually have to pay external consultants or managed service providers – or buy third-party software – to help migrate users to Office 365.
“I hazard a guess that these are one-off activities rather than constantly running to the ‘IT guy’ to fix minor issues,” Redmond continued. “Also, SharePoint and Lync are probably ‘added-value’ from Office 365 as they are likely not to have been used before.”
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