Office365 is the successor of Microsoft BPOS (Business Productivity Online Standard Suite) and it’s basically an online service allowing organizations’ employees to share information through the Internet. Office 365 consists of several Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) products, such as Exchange Online, Lync Online, and SharePoint online, together with the common Microsoft Office applications, such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, these are offered bundled free as Office Web Apps. Office365 allows employees to login with their accounts and then create, share, co-work, and send documents and messages. It is part of Microsoft’s cloud computing solution.
Let’s take a closer look at the components of Office365:
- Office Web Apps – allows you to use the basic features of Office Professional Plus through a simple web browser, all the major browsers are supported.
- Exchange Online – provides your organization with mailing functionality so your employees can write, send, and receive messages to each other or to outside contractors. With Exchange Online your users can share their free/busy information, arrange meetings, and save notes and tasks. It can be used from all common platforms, such as PC, Mac, Android, iPhone, etc. As part of the Office 365 packet, it is preconfigured to allow its users 25GB of space for each mailbox. All spam and virus filtering, along with backups and security, are the responsibility of Microsoft.
- SharePoint Online – is great for storing files for private access and collaboration. You can store your company’s templates on SharePoint and they will then be securely accessible to anyone working from anywhere. Multiple employees can access the same project files and save their changes.
- Lync Online – integrates with Exchange Online to show free/busy information, offers online communication, video conferencing, and more.
With all these applications hosted in the cloud, you can rest assured that your IT staff will only have the bare minimum of things to do locally. Microsoft signs a Service-level agreement (SLA) that guarantees you get 99.9% uptime for these applications in a secure manner.
With Office365 you get a monthly fee that is based on the number of users and the features they need. Microsoft provides several different plans and you can choose the one that best suits your needs. Here’s a list:
- The P family plan (P1) is designed for small companies with up to 50 users. It includes Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Lync Online, and Office Web Apps.
- The E family plans (E1, E2, and E3) are designed for large enterprises that need the full features of Office 365.
- E1 includes Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and Lync Online.
- E2 includes all the online services of E1 plus Office Web Apps.
- E3 includes all the services of E2 plus some advanced features of Exchange Online and SharePoint Online, and Office Pro Plus licenses
- The K family plans (K1 and K2) are designed for users that don’t need the full Exchange and SharePoint capabilities, just a base minimum. These users don’t have a corporate email account, they are just provided access to the resources they need.
- K1 includes Exchange Kiosk and SharePoint kiosk.
- K2 includes the K1 features plus Office Web Apps.
Office365 works better for small to medium size businesses (SMB) that don’t have highly qualified IT personnel or very high performance servers. It’s not profitable for them to buy all the licenses for Windows Server, Exchange Server, SharePoint Server, and Office and host all these products on premise on dedicated servers with dedicated support (usually not 24×7). Not to mention the need to secure that infrastructure, provide disaster recovery plans, and perform and test scheduled backups. If you own or administer such a company, find the time to learn more about Office365 and give it a try.