In the past, in order to get a business up and running, a company would need to ensure that the necessary hardware and software is purchased.
Typically, a business would employ the use of an IT service provider, or in-house IT to assist in the setup and maintenance of the IT environment.
The initial capital outlay for a business to purchase IT hardware and software can be massive, making it often prohibitively expensive, especially for a small business, to take full advantage of the latest technologies in the market.
On top of the expense of purchasing hardware and software, it is often costly for a business to keep that hardware and software up to date.
Stepping into 2014 – we are living in an always on world dominated by mobile technologies, from smart phones, to tablets, and nowadays, even wearable tech. People no longer only have a PC at home with a feature phone.
These days, the average office worker might have a smart phone, a tablet for on the go, a PC at home and a laptop at work. We are living in a world where we expect access to devices and our data anytime, and from anywhere.
As consumers, we have also become accustomed to having access to the latest and greatest gadgets and devices. These devices have also become more accessible to us through payment plans provided to us by our cellular service providers.
What is the Cloud?
Put simply, cloud computing refers to a user connecting to a network to access data or applications. If you use services such as Facebook or Twitter, you’re in the cloud. There are three models to cloud computing, namely public, private and hybrid.
Lower IT Costs with Public Cloud Services
By purchasing a service hosted in the public cloud, organisations free up precious cash flow associated with setting up physical server infrastructure. In the long term, the organisation is able to save money associated with the upkeep and maintenance of the IT investment.
Instead, it is the responsibility of the service provider to ensure that hardware and software is maintained and kept up to date. This is precious cash flow that can then be injected into other, more core activities for an organisation.
Since there is no ownership of hardware and software when purchasing a public cloud service, this transaction is seen by the business as an operational expense.
It is absolutely imperative for any organisation to build a predictable expense model so that the organisation is better able to budget for any expenditure that might occur during the course of business.
Public cloud services are typically paid on a usage or user model, meaning that the more an organisation consumes, the more they pay.
Do Business Better
The modern office worker has become accustomed to having their personal data on the go from their personal lives.
Work shouldn’t be any different. Cloud storage services ensure that people will be able to access data from anywhere, from almost any device, as long as they are connected to the Internet.
There are also a range of tools available that will help you to simplify the processes of your business.
Software is offered as a service, meaning that the software is constantly maintained, giving users access to the latest versions of software which translates into near instant access to the latest productivity benefits.
What is Office 365?
Office 365 is a service provided by Microsoft that offers a full enterprise grade business IT solution at a small business price point. It includes access an email server, the ability to share calendars, collaboration tools, as well as web conferencing facilities.
On top of this, you get Office Professional Plus that a single user can install on up to five devices, including PCs, Macs, tablets and smart phones.
Office 365 plans
How can I Buy Office 365?
Office 365 can be purchased in one of two ways:
1. Online Purchase
You can buy Office 365 directly from Microsoft from the Office 365 portal. You’re able to make monthly payments, which are automatically deducted from your credit card.
When purchasing Office 365 online, be sure to nominate your service provider, so that they are able to assist you in managing your Office 365 service.
2. Through a Service Provider
Purchase Office 365 through an Open agreement from your IT service provider. Office 365 is offered as an annual purchase; however, speak to your service provider about finance options to break the annual payment down to a monthly payment.
Office 365 Misconceptions, Frequently Asked Questions
1. You need to be connected to the Internet to access Office 365.
False – Your PC simply needs to be online once per month for the desktop copy of Microsoft to speak to the Server to check that the user still has an active O365 subscription. Once verified, you continue to use Office Professional Plus as you normally would… it lives on your PC.
The user will install a OneDrive Pro folder on their PC. This allows you to save files to the folder. The folder sits on your hard drive, but every time you have an Internet connection, your files will automatically sync to the cloud.
This is an easy backup solution for your important documents and no active back up is needed. If your PC’s hard drive crashes, you can simply download the OneDrive folder from the cloud and be up and running in no time. It is important to know that this will not back up settings on your PC, but is meant entirely to be a backup solution for your important files.
With regards to Exchange Online and Lync Online – these are services that would typically require access to the Internet to function normally. As such, this does not change in a hosted service environment – you will still need to have an Internet connection in order to receive emails and to be able to get access to instant messaging and web-conference.
The benefit of a hosted service, however, is that the service is not dependent on the Internet connection at your office. Simply put, if your Internet is down, you can simply relocate to another location with a working Internet connection and continue to work without interruptions.
2. My data is sitting in the public cloud. Therefore, it cannot be secure.
False – Microsoft consistently sets a high bar around privacy practices that support global standards for data handling and transfer. Microsoft does not scan email or documents stored on its servers to build analytics or to mine data. Your data sitting in Microsoft’s servers remains your data – you are able to export your data from the Microsoft services at any point in time.
Microsoft Office 365 services are also compliant with South Africa’s Protection of Personal Information (POPI) legislation, which dictates that South Africans will only be allowed to store their data outside of South African datacentres if the datacentres complies with policies that are equal to, or better of South Africa’s.
Further to this, Microsoft has built a high level of redundancy into their servers. What this means is that should the datacentre experience any issues, you will be automatically re-directed to another datacentre. This prevents the situation of data loss, which can often occur in a scenario with an on-site server.
3. Office 365 is a subscription. Why should I buy into a subscription instead of an Office package that I own?
4. What devices can I access Office from?
Microsoft offers its Office 365 service on PCs, Mac, tablets and smart phones. Office is available for iPhone, iPad, Android phones, Windows tablets and Windows phone.
5. How long is my Office 365 subscription active for?
Office 365 subscriptions are active for 1 year (365 days) from the time of activation. During that time, you will gain access to the service, including all service updates and improvements applicable to your plan.
Purchasing Office 365 through the Open program means that you are purchasing a full year of the service.
What Are My Next Steps?
Get in touch with your IT service provider and discuss your business and IT objectives. Doing so will help your service provider to offer a better service and solution tailored for the unique needs of your organisation.
In deciding to make a move into the cloud, you will also need to think about how to prepare your organisation for the transition – this might include training for staff in order to better leverage off the new technologies on offer. Ensure that your IT service provider has built a service offering, built on a solid understanding of the Office 365 service.
If you require any more information, or want to set up a demo of how Office 365 works, get in touch with us at:
Michael Henson – [email protected]