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Office 365 — 4 Things You Should Know

18 Feb 2015 by Harish Krishnamurthy

Office 365 has evolved into a next-generation, cloud-based messaging and collaboration platform that merges messaging, productivity, unified communications, social networking and more into a single package. To help you better understand its benefits, caveats and adoption, we answer some of the most commonly asked questions related to it:

  1. What business considerations need to be taken into account when choosing a plan?

When managed service providers (MSPs) transition to Office 365™ from traditional Office® suite licensing, they move from owning licenses to subscribing to a service. “In doing so, they are shifting from a capital expenditure to operational expenses,” says Aaron Kleinschmidt, senior partner champion of Microsoft Cloud at Insight. “This gives them a much more predictable and constant cost model to work within and can make it easier to absorb from a budget standpoint.” You can also save money as it relates to:

  • Scalability: Office 365 has the ability to scale up or down with licensing based on the user count, which means you only pay for what you use.
  • Hardware: Fewer servers are needed to support the services moving to Office 365, dramatically reducing your data center footprint. Kleinschmidt illustrates, “We had one client who eliminated hardware costs for 45 servers just by subscribing to SharePoint® Online.”
  • Facility: Because Office 365 offloads application servers to the Microsoft® infrastructure, you can reduce your facility operations.
  • Administration: “Microsoft handles software upgrades, malware, software and hardware maintenance, and so forth,” Kleinschmidt says. By removing those tasks from the workloads of IT professionals, their time can be refocused on business-critical functions.

Office 365 has the potential to save your company significant hard and soft costs.

  1. Once we select a plan, can it be changed?
    Yes, but only in certain cases. “Microsoft recently changed this in Q2 of 2014 when they released new small-business plans that allow you to mix and match,” Kleinschmidt notes. “While you can switch between them, it is limited to certain plans — make sure it’s eligible.”
  2. What are the trade-offs of purchasing the Microsoft Office suite through Office 365 versus our current strategy?

Microsoft has flipped to per-user rather than per-device licensing in Office 365. “This makes it enormously easier to account for how many licenses are needed, the management of those licenses, and reduces the overall complexity of licensing for Office applications,” explains Kleinschmidt.

This shift can also dramatically reduce licensing costs. Kleinschmidt illustrates, “In an environment where the average user has three devices, you are going from having to license three copies of Office to a single license of Office in O365.”

Additionally, clients are always getting the latest features. “It may sound like a small thing, but it has huge implications for MSPs when it comes to no longer having to do major version upgrades for the entire user base,” Kleinschmidt points out.

  1. What is Insight’s Office 365 adoption process?

For companies that have yet to purchase Office 365, we have a conversation about the users they have, the categories those users fall into and the number of users.We recommend a plan that aligns with the users based on that discussion.

“With a variety of Office 365 plans, we’ll set up a trial account for the client, allowing them to see how it works and to test out the system,” says David Mayer, practice director of Microsoft solutions at Insight.

Once a plan has been purchased, we’ll walk you through the process of transitioning your existing system over to Office 365, taking advantage of a variety of Microsoft programs and developing a migration plan. “We’ll often start with email, migrating over to the Office 365 service, and then we start adding services from there,” adds Mayer.

Discover the advantages of moving to Office 365 in our free whitepaper.