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Published 21 July 2016

Alex Innard

Alex Innard
Head of IT

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Benefits of Office 365

Office 365 is the brand name Microsoft use for its software-as-a-service “SaaS” Office product. The product set encompasses the familiar installable Office applications such as; Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, OneNote and Access. It also bundles in cloud-based features such as Exchange Online, Skype for Business, SharePoint and OneDrive. The full product set is wholly available over the internet, therefore readily accessible from almost any internet-connected device. This full list of applications and features can be found here.

The benefits of Office 365

One of the biggest benefits of Office 365 over standard Microsoft Office is the cloud feature set, for example OneDrive, Skype for Business & SharePoint Online. These added features enable you to communicate globally with others using video conferencing or standard instant messaging, share files, and collaborate on documents. Ideal for the business looking to move away from, or complement the traditional in-house file server.

Office 365 is purely subscription-based and includes Microsoft’s “Software Assurance” which means that providing your subscription is active, you benefit from newer application versions at no extra cost, thus saving your business money in future years when it’s time to upgrade. Subscriptions for Office 365 can be paid for either on a monthly or yearly basis.

You may have seen the countless adverts in the mainstream media shouting about Microsoft’s Office 365 subscription. Microsoft is trying to convince you to switch from buying the one-off boxed product to the subscription SaaS version of the popular Microsoft Office suite. Certainly for personal usage, whether an individual or whole family, it makes economic sense vs. the old faithful. It would take up to three years to pay back the cost of buying the boxed retail version if you chose to subscribe to Office 365 for individual usage.

Office 365 licensing

When it comes to business licences, there is a range of different options depending on which services your business wishes to leverage. For businesses with between one and three hundred users, Microsoft offers three different “Office 365 Business” packages. Each offering more features than the previous. Support is provided on a 24/7 basis for critical issues. Pricing is favourable and geared towards the I.T budgets of small to medium businesses. Subscription periods range from one to three years but can be paid either monthly or yearly. As with all Office 365 packages, there is a discount for paying yearly. Microsoft’s comparison of the Business plans can be found here.

For larger organisations with more than three hundred users, Microsoft makes the Office 365 Enterprise packages available. The Enterprise packages offer a few more features than the Business packages, for instance: Microsoft Access, data loss prevention, email compliance and archiving and the ability to use the applications in a Remote Desktop Services environment. The other key difference with Enterprise Office 365 is that businesses can opt for a hybrid deployment whereby the cloud services such as Exchange, SharePoint and Skype for Business are split between on-premise and cloud hosting to meet the needs of larger organisations with a mixture of office-based and remote workers. Support is provided on a 24/7 basis for everything from simple “how do I’s” to critical issues. Microsoft’s comparison of Enterprise plans can be found here.

To maximise your return on investment, you can mix and match the licences in your business to best suit the needs of individual users or groups of users. For instance; you may allocate Office 365 Business Standard licences to your marketing team and Office 365 Enterprise E5 to your graphical design team who wish to use the added benefit of Visio. One “gotcha” to ensure you’ve taken into consideration with deploying mixed licences is that you must ensure both your Enterprise and Business plans both have the same minimum features if you wish to provide seamless cloud services (for instance Exchange, Skype, OneDrive etc) across your business. For example, the Office 365 ProPlus plan does not provide the Exchange Online feature, therefore any user assigned this package will not be able to benefit from cloud Exchange.

Why office 365?

No matter what the size of business you have, Office 365 should be high on your priority list when it comes to renewing your current Office product. The benefits of cloud computing speak for themselves and have been covered in a previous article. Subscription-based licensing means you can budget on a monthly basis without the huge capital outlay of renewal of existing volume licence agreements or retail purchases. Tracking user licences is also simplified as it is all carried out on a user by user level from a centralised management portal on the internet. Finally, you don’t necessarily have to invest heavily on your own server infrastructure and maintain it yourself. Utilise Office 365 and let the cloud handle all of that for you!

What next?

Apograph are Microsoft partners who can provide consultancy and advice on migrating to Office 365. We can provide a whole Office 365 project lifecycle from conception through to completion. Interested? Want to know more? Speak to one of us today.

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