Office in the cloud

News: January 2012

Office in the cloud

Microsoft Office has long been the default choice of office software for businesses. With the recent launch of Microsoft Office 365, many businesses are considering the advantages inherent in the new software’s cloud-based collaboration capabilities. So what is it all about?

Office 365 allows users to work together easily by allowing “anywhere access” to email, web conferencing, documents, and calendars combined with enterprise-class security. “Anywhere access” means that users can access their important documents, contacts, email and calendars on nearly any device with an internet connection and a browser (whether PC, Mac, tablet or smartphone).

Microsoft offers packages for small businesses and large enterprises with different pricing depending on the level of functionality required. The basic package allows access to email, documents, contacts, and calendars for a fixed monthly fee (per user). This plan is ideal for businesses with fewer than 25 employees who do not have dedicated IT staff or expertise.

The larger “enterprise” packages are designed for firms with advanced IT requirements such as active directory integration, advanced email archiving, 24 x7 IT admin support, etc.

The big attraction with Office 365 is that it takes a lot of the headache out of business IT. Since Microsoft hosts the Office 365 package, they look after updates, security and so on. This reduces IT costs for your business and offers increased flexibility – if you hire more staff you simply add more users to your monthly subscription. From a productivity perspective, hosting the office package in the cloud means that all staff can access and share documents and files quickly and easily.

Microsoft’s biggest competitor in this space is Google with its “Google Docs” software which offers similar functionality. However the big advantage for Microsoft’s system (and the reason most businesses will choose Office 365 over Google Docs) is familiarity. Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Outlook have long been the “global standard” in office software. Since most business people are comfortable and familiar with these packages, IT managers will choose to stick with Microsoft Office.