Why use Office 365?

Zenzero are helping businesses of all shapes and sizes move their IT systems to the cloud. The process has been made easier by Microsoft’s Office 365 platform which brings together various productivity tools, from e-mail to Web Apps to communications services. Office 365 makes it easy and cost effective to move “into the cloud” without giving up the feel of Microsoft Office applications such as Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint that we have all grown so familiar with.

In this article we cover four topics;

– Why you should move to Microsoft Office 365

– The different plans available

– 10 Technical benefits of Office 365

– Making the move

Why you should move to Microsoft Office 365

There are many technical benefits customers enjoy from moving to an enterprise cloud platform such as; improved Security, Reliability, Compliance and Compatibility. However putting the technical benefits to one side, some of the biggest reasons why customers like Office 365, and are moving more data to the cloud is to gain a business advantage with lower costs and improved user productivity.

Lower Costs: Businesses should start to think of IT Services in the same way that we think of utilities such as electricity and water, in effect they just work, you don’t need to build infrastructure to run them and you pay for what you use. Knowing what your IT costs are, and being able to accurately budget is really important for any business. In a dynamic growing business you need to know how costs will change as you need more services and employ more staff. Paying for your IT services on a “per user-per month” basis allows you to scale up and down IT services when needed, without worrying if further investment in infrastructure is needed. You pay only for the services that you use.

Productivity: Keeping your workforce connected in today’s modern world is essential if you and your business are to remain competitive. Therefore having your IT systems available on any device in any location is a must. Allowing users the flexibility to work from wherever and whenever they need to (provided they have a connection to the internet) helps to ensure that your team can meet the needs of today’s ever more demanding customers. There are many benefits that having systems based in the cloud offers such as if a PC fails the user can quickly connect to their data from any spare workstation or if staff get stuck at home because of bad weather or you need to work from a customer’s office, they can still connect to their data just as if you were sat at their desk.

The different plans available

For a business looking to move to Office 365 there are a couple of decisions that need to be made to ensure that the correct plan is selected.

The first decision is based on size. If the number of users within the organisation is greater than 300 (or will grow to be greater than 300 within the foreseeable future) then you move straight to the Enterprise plan. Small organisations who want to take advantage of some of the richer features in enterprise can also go on to this plan as there is no minimum user count.

The second decision around what functionality you require, specifically if you want just e-mail, just Office applications or e-mail and Office applications.

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Once the decision has been made to go with the “Business” or “Enterprise” then it is time to select the specific plan for each user. The table below shows the different functionality and cost for each plan. An organisation can have different users on different plans based on their job role and requirements.

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10 technical benefits of Microsoft Office 365

1: Security: One of the most important factors in choosing a cloud service is security. Microsoft’s online services have been designed with security in mind. Office 365 applications are accessed through 128-bit SSL/TSL encryption, Anti-Virus signatures are kept up to date, and security measures are applied in accordance with the Microsoft Trustworthy Computing initiative.

2: Reliability: A big area of concern regarding cloud services is reliability. Microsoft Online Services provides a service level agreement (SLA) and has a 99.9 percent scheduled uptime. Microsoft has multiple datacentre’s, located all over the world, hosting redundant network architecture. If there is an outage at one datacentre, another can act as a backup.

3: Compliance: Compliance with government and industry regulations is a big deal in today’s world. Microsoft Office 365 services are certified as compliant with ISO 27001 standards, completed SAS70 Type I and II audits, and achieved the EU Safe Harbor seal. In addition Microsoft also has controls for helping customers comply with HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act).

4: Compatibility: In today’s economy, many companies can’t upgrade all of their desktop systems to the latest operating system. That’s not necessary to use Office 365. Office 365 supports many operating systems including Windows 7, Windows 8 (& 8.1) as well as Mac users who can also access the applications, using OS X.

The online Web portal for administration works with Internet Explorer 7 or later, Mozilla Firefox 3.x, or Apple Safari 3.x. The Outlook Web App can also be accessed with any of those browsers or with Google Chrome 3 and later versions.

5: Up-to-date versions: With Office 365, companies and their users get all the features and functionality of the very latest versions of Microsoft’s server products. The services run on the latest Exchange, SharePoint and Lync platforms. Client software is the latest enterprise version of Office Professional.

6: Single sign-on: Assuming your network is running Server 2008 Active Directory on-premises, you can configure Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS) to achieve single sign-on, so that users can log on to the domain and be automatically authenticated to Office 365 saving time and improving productivity.

7: Exchange Online: Exchange Online gives you the benefits of an Exchange Server without the cost and overhead of deploying it in-house on physical hardware. User mailboxes of up to 50 GB are supported and personal archives provide more storage space. Users can restore deleted items, including items deleted from the Deleted Items folder. Even if an item has been permanently deleted or manually purged, it can be recovered if you enable Single Item Recovery in the settings.

8: SharePoint Online: SharePoint Online makes collaboration easy and can be accessed via almost any web browser. You get 500 MB of storage per user account with a storage quota of up to 10 GB per site collection. Your company can have up to 1 TB total storage. Your SharePoint sites work with all Microsoft Office 2013 applications.

With Microsoft Office 2013 applications and SharePoint Online, two or more users can edit the same document at the same time. If you don’t have Office installed, you can use Office Web Apps to work with your documents in a Web browser. Also supported is PowerPoint broadcasting, which lets you broadcast your slide shows across the Internet even to people who don’t have PowerPoint. You can manage documents offline and have everything automatically synchronized back to the server when you reconnect, this is a big plus for those who worry that cloud computing means being unable to get work done if you don’t have an Internet connection.

Importantly, your corporate SharePoint sites are protected against viruses and malware by Forefront Security for SharePoint as standard. Whilst your SharePoint data is protected, this does not negate the need for a robust Anti-Virus solution on all client workstations. (Link to managed-anti-virus). Zenzero can offer a Managed Anti-Virus service which is included in all IT support contracts.

9: Lync Online: Lync Online is the communications service component of Office 365 for providing users with instant messaging, audio and video calling between PCs, Web conferencing, and presence. With the Lync 2013 client software, users can send Instant Messages (which are encrypted) and display presence status and monitor presence status of others. Lync integrates with Outlook so users can find and communicate with others from within Outlook. Presence information can also be updated based on Exchange calendar information, additionally users can also transfer files during IM conversations.

Thanks to the federation feature, users can also IM people in other organizations that use Lync Online or that host their own on premise Lync servers.

Users can attend online meetings with audio, video, and Web conferencing using the Lync client or using a phone with a PSTN audio conferencing service. Data sharing, including desktop and application sharing, whiteboard capability, and document sharing, is supported.

10: Office Web Apps: Microsoft Office Web Apps does not take the place of the full-featured Office applications; it supplements them. There are times when you are away from your Office-equipped computer and need to do a quick edit. No matter where you are or what computer you’re using, you have will have access to; Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote as an on demand service.

You can view files on many popular smartphone devices such as Windows phones, iPhone, Blackberry, and Nokia. Users can print Word documents and multiple users can edit a document simultaneously.

Making the Move

Zenzero Solutions have completed approximately 50 migrations to Microsoft Office 365 for customers of various sizes and from different infrastructure and a variety of different e-mail systems from; local Exchange servers, Exchange within SBS, Google Mail, Hotmail and other POP 3/ IMAP systems. Our experience of dealing with organisations from different verticals and with different platforms gives our engineers a fantastic understanding of what migration methods work best and how to design a plan that works painlessly for the users.

Our extensive knowledge ensures that there is no risk in moving your data to the cloud as we have done it time and time again. Every customer has their unique requirements that Zenzero take time to understand before agreeing with the customers the best cause of action for the migration. Our priority is to ensure the smoothest transition from the old system to Office 365 and to ensure that all historical e-mails and folders, contact information and calendar entries are populated into the new system so users don’t see any difference in how they work.

Once Zenzero have understood your requirements we will be able to provide a fixed priced quote to move you your Office systems to the cloud. If you would like to be contacted about making the move to Microsoft Office 365 please contact the sales team at sales@zenzero.co.uk or by calling 0844 967 0706.