Let’s talk on the experience of a small IT company – a managed partner of Microsoft with gold and silver competencies. Two  geographically distributed  offices use Office 365 in daily work and help their customers in migration / integration.

Of course, any innovations raise doubts and questions, and all the more it concerns such global and technological services as Office 365. Without duplicating the FAQ that is available on the Office 365 website, we will answer five small questions below. These questions are usually asked by the client in the process of acquaintance with the proposal to transfer a part of the IT infrastructure into the cloud. These answers are likely to help you in overcoming doubts and in trying Office 365 in your operation.

How to motivate the governing bodies to move into Office 365?

Any attempt to break the usual order of work meets with opposition of governing bodies and colleagues. It’s not just laziness and habit. Look at the conservatism of others on the other side: old solutions are time-tested and well researched – they do not need to be proved. But the novelty frightens – this is a certain risk, the need to learn something new.

In conversation with the governing bodies, you can pay attention to the main advantages of cloud services:

  1. Saving. You do not need any servers, other expensive hardware. We save money on machinery, power supply and renting premises, as all this collects dust. We needn’t to buy a single software license. We also save on the season cycles of business – we only pay for the licenses that are actually used. The implementation of solutions and their subsequent support are greatly simplified – we save time.
  2. Flexibility. If a company grows rapidly or, on the contrary, reduces its staff, it becomes easier to adapt the structure of IT services to work, to connect / disconnect new employees. Opening a branch in another region is no problem now.
  3. Mobility. It is available everywhere, if there is an Internet. You can be ill at home, you can work in a traffic jam. There is a browser – there is a workplace. Office 365 is a good friend of smartphones and tablets, which is not surprising.

The governing bodies can be very interested in the fact how to entrust your information to an outside service? Sometimes the issue of trust is difficult to solve by rational arguments, but let’s try.

What is obvious? A server with Exchange or SharePoint in a remote data center can not be stolen or confiscated. This is a big advantage. Protection and accessibility are charged now to Microsoft. A SLA is subscribed; it is supported by financial commitments, with a guaranteed level of availability 99%. Software in the cloud is constantly updated without the user’s participation – therefore, there are fewer holes for trespassers. Well, the most important thing is reliability: you needn’t to think about backup schemes, testing backups, problems with disks and other hardware. Fires and floods don’t prevent you from working now. Our information is always safe and sound in geographically distributed data centers. There are more advantages than disadvantages.

Besides, if the security issue of individual information is pressing enough – critical mailboxes can be placed on your servers, and the rest of the ordinary employees – in the cloud.

If the governing bodies have doubts and fears, this is the work for such company-partners. We need to get together, and try to figure it out either the fears are real, or there is a phony issue.

What attempts will be right?

Except the governing bodies there are also users, we discussed their fears above. If people are afraid of losing time, it will be very interesting to show them how they can save it.

Get a free test account for 25 users for 1 month, find several like-minded colleagues: for example, a lawyer, a sales manager and someone from a warehouse. Let the manager keep contracts in SharePoint Online, the lawyer instantly edit and approve them, and the warehouse in Lync show that one part of the order does not fit the other by video calls. You need not to run to a lawyer, or to the warehouse.

This exaggerated and banal example can be reduced to one tip: start with automation of the simplest routine. It takes the most valuable time of users. Such a project of several people will not take much time, and the result can exceed all expectations. This will confirm your status of an IT expert in the eye of colleagues.

What about migration?

Migration is a big and very “personal” topic. The majority has already had Exchange and SharePoint, and maybe their own Lync Server. Of course, you should not lose a single letter and a single document. Microsoft offers a full set of scripts and tools, starting with manual migration through PST files and ending with the temporary or permanent integration of your IT and cloud infrastructure with AD synchronization and moving users to the cloud and back with a single mouse click – the so-called hybrid scenario.

Brian Posey wrote: “You should not be light-minded to the cloud bursting”. You need a plan, you need an expertise, and probably you need a consultation. Apply to partners. An expertise and the ability to escalate problems in Microsoft make this help very valuable and useful. It’s important not to be afraid of asking questions. The more carefully everything is planned, the fewer problems will be brought in the future.

What are the tariff plans and which to choose?

Office 365 offers 3 families of subscriptions: P, E and K. Each has a different functional package and, accordingly, a different price.

The P family (This is just P1) is designed for small businesses and freelancers. There is a limit in the number of users – up to 50. Pay attention: further migration to the tariff plans of the E family is not yet possible. The disadvantages of P family include the lack of phone support, no Office Professional Plus, and Lync without conferences and integration with telephony. The main advantage is a reasonable price, only $4 per user per month.

 

The most popular and relevant tariff plans are in the E family. There are 4 packages with different content, integration with AD and technical phone support are available for everyone. Which of the 4 packages to choose depends on your desire to use certain services, but you can deny yourself nothing with E3 (except Lync integration with telephony).
Both families, P and E have the size of the mailbox 25 gigabytes.

K will be interesting as an addition to the tariff plans of E to use on terminals and thin clients by employees without a permanent workplace (for example, freelancers with corporate mail, workers in the shop at the factory, couriers …).

Besides, Office 365 allows creating special tariff plans with a combination of different services. So, you can create a necessary set without superfluous services. There you can buy a subscription to Microsoft Dynamics CRM online for $25 per month per user, rent a desktop package Office Professional 2010, order a backup option for Exchange Online.

Migrating to the cloud Office 365 is a time-consuming process and requires good preliminary planning and knowledge of technologies. If there is a lack of experience or lack of own resources, it is better to entrust the process of migration with a specialized company.

Our company will perform the following works for you:

  • Develop a detailed migration plan, taking into account the specifics of your business processes.
  • Will carry out work on the migration of services into the cloud Office 365, including integration with AD, Exchange, Lync and office telephony.
  • Provide training for technical support engineers and employees of your organization.

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