For most organisations, moving to the cloud is a big decision.
By nature, human beings don’t like change; and moving away from the traditional on-premises IT model to the cloud is a major shift for many companies. Embracing new ways of working means getting full-company buy-in and getting users on-board with the change.
There are also a lot of unknowns which make companies hesitant to change. Common questions like “will my data be secure?” and “do we have to move everything to the cloud?” deter companies from taking the plunge and move away from their existing IT infrastructure.
But the benefits of moving to the cloud are now well-established. Most organisations find they are able to be more flexible and see increased productivity and reduced IT spend.
Office 365 is Microsoft’s cloud-based productivity suite and is used by more than 100 million active enterprise users around the world.
It encompasses the many familiar Microsoft apps we know and use already, including Word, PowerPoint, Outlook and Excel, along with a host of other useful tools all centres around business productivity. Other features of Office 365 which you might recognise are Skype for Business, OneDrive and SharePoint. The tools in Office 365 are so good for productivity that it is quickly becoming the default for many businesses when renewing their IT infrastructure and moving to the cloud.
Of course, moving to the cloud (and Office 365 specifically) needs careful thought and in most cases a strong business case. If you’re thinking about moving to the cloud, one of the primary questions you have is probably “is Office 365 right for my business?”
Is Office 365 right for your business?
Organisations that are considering moving to Office 365 often have the following questions…
Is Office 365 secure?
At the forefront of most IT decision makers minds is security. There has been a perception of cloud storage being less secure than on-premises but the opposite is true.
It’s true that the cloud presents its own challenges around security, partly because it opens up new opportunities. One of the advantages of Office 365 over on-premises systems is that it provides the flexibility to work from anywhere or to work collaboratively with those outside your organisation, but this means you need to plan for how users prove their identity to access systems, and put in place security measures to ensure people aren’t sharing sensitive data with the wrong people.
But Office 365 is one of the most used software in the world and has the security capabilities to match. Microsoft spend more than 1 billion dollars a year on making sure Office 365 is the pinnacle of IT security.
The Security and Compliance Centre in Office 365 provides a toolkit of different features that can be employed to provide the appropriate level of control. This can include enforcing policies around where sensitive data can be saved, setting automated retention rules, or searching an audit log for risky activity. These tools are flexible enough that you can adapt your configuration to your organisation’s needs. Other security features, such as malware and anti-virus scans in Exchange Online, are part of the specific components of Office 365.
Is Office 365 reliable?
Office 365 is incredibly reliable, and Microsoft have the stats to prove it. In 2019, Office 365 has a guaranteed up-time of 99.99%. If your on-premises server goes down, you lose access to all your files and data until it is fixed, unless you have implemented expensive high availability solutions. By using the cloud, in the event of any server outage your systems and applications will keep running in another server in the data centre. If the entire data centre goes down, your applications will fail over to a secondary location.
All data saved to Office 365 is replicated 6 times, 3 times in each data centre, so even if something goes wrong with the hardware, your data is safe.
Is Office 365 expensive?
For most companies, one of the biggest operational expenses is tech and IT. Keeping hardware and software up-to-date, powering and cooling servers, paying for storage and securing your network can all incur significant costs over the course of a year.
The outcome is that many businesses neglect their IT, using out of date technology and software instead of paying to update. This puts them at a disadvantage to their competitors who choose to use the most current software versions. But it can also put them at risk of a security breach which can be damaging not only financially, but to their reputation.
Using Office 365 eliminates the ongoing costs of on-premises servers as well as shifting the responsibility for some administration and maintenance tasks, such as running backups, to reduce the pressure on IT departments and allow staff to focus on work that will drive benefit to the business. The “evergreen” model of cloud technology, meaning that you are always on the latest version, removes the need for expensive upgrade projects in the future.
Will there be downtime while we migrate to the cloud?
There is very little downtime when moving to the cloud. Your MSP can migrate you outside of working hours to make sure there is minimal to no impact on business as usual activity and operations. Most organisations move to the cloud in stages, for example starting with email and then enabling collaboration software before migrating documents from a legacy file share. By working in this manner, each migration covers a manageable volume of data and content to minimise downtime. For larger organisations with a lot of data to migrate, a hybrid approach can be taken, with some users in the cloud and some on-premises, working seamlessly together, while groups of users are moved across in batches.
Do I have to use the browser-based Office apps?
No, Office 365 comes with both the desktop and browser-based versions of the familiar Office applications, like Word and Excel, so you can choose to work on whichever version is best for you at that time.
Some Office 365 tools, such as Microsoft Teams, have both a desktop and a browser-based version so users can choose whichever works best for them.
What’s the difference between Office 365 and Microsoft 365?
Think of Microsoft 365 as an extension of Office 365. It encompasses and includes all the apps of Office 365 along with a host of other apps which make it a more powerful, enterprise-level platform. Microsoft 365 includes Office 365, but it also contains Windows and the Enterprise Mobility and Security (EMS) suite of tools. EMS and Windows can both be purchased separately from Office 365, but Microsoft 365 provides a cost-effective way to get all of these tools together.
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