In my last post on Office 365, I praised it and made it seem like the only option for businesses small and large. My opinion on the product has since changed. I am not saying that the product is not revolutionary and the way of the future, but rather there are several things to consider when implementing Office 365 that I did not know at the time of my last post. I have since come to realize that one should not be set on only one product by one company, but rather look at the market as a whole because one solution that is right for one company may be horribly wrong for another.

My employer paid for me to go to a three day training workshop that covered the implementation and management of Office 365. This workshop, which was hosted by Microsoft has opened my eyes to some possible issues during the implementation of the product. From this workshop have have compiled the below summary of the pros and cons of the new Office 365.

The Good
There is a lot of good with this product. You can keep some documents local and put some in the cloud. If you want you can even store everything in the cloud. With Office 365 your email and office suite are all combined and other than a active directory server, which is optional, you would no longer need to have a mail or file server in house. Management of the services included in Office 365, especially email has been simpled for the better, making management of this system a lot easier. Rather than storing your data with a local company, you can rest easy knowing that Microsoft will not go out of business or loose your data. Another advantage of Office 365 is that it is the Office suite that most of us have grown up with and it is also the most widely used office suite, which means there is a less chance of compatibly problems since most people are using MS Office.

The Questionable
After this workshop, I had a lot of questions unanswered. The one question I asked the Microsoft representatives that I did not get an answer for was what happens if you want to leave Office 365 for something else. I am concerned about how users will get their data, email, and domain back out of Office 365 because of this. One thing that they did tell me was that if you were running Office 365 and you had to fire an employee, to save their data you would have to keep paying for their Office 365 subscription to not lose their files or email. This makes me a little nervous, but I can understand why.

My main concern with Office 365 is implementation. If you are currently running Microsoft Exchange Server with Active Directory you should have little problems to know problems if you go with a Microsoft Partner that has been trained and knows how to properly migrate your files (for more information on this please email me at nneil@nathanneil.com). For everyone else there can be some issues depending on what system you currently have. Implementation is possible, but if your email server is not currently Microsoft Exchange you will experience some downtime for a trained Microsoft Partner to migrate everything, but it is important to note that your old emails may not transfer to Exchange Online with Office 365.

Another important thing to note about security is that Microsoft says Office 365 can encrypt your emails, which is essential if you are in the medical or legal fields, but it will only work if you buy extra equipment and have an IT professional that is trained and experienced in connecting the rights management system to Office 365.

What does this mean?
Simply put this means that Microsoft Office 365 is still a good product, but that doesn’t mean it is ideal for every business. For new businesses starting out I would highly recommend Office 365 since there isn’t an old system to migrate data from. For businesses that have been running their current systems for some time and are not using Microsoft Exchange I recommend that you consult with an IT professional, who can properly look over your system and determine if this will be the right move for you.

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