… a bold statement but, very true in the eyes of an IT professional. Why though? What good is Microsoft’s Office 365 for your business? Here, I’ll give you the short and sweet rundown. No, this isn’t a sales pitch either. This is something we truly believe in based off of our experiences working with businesses of all shapes and sizes. If you have some spare time and want to grab a coffee to discuss Office 365 (and listen to me tell you horror stories about other businesses who wish they would have migrated sooner), just drop me a message.
Starting with one of the most important factors in choosing a cloud service, security has been the big stumbling block for many companies considering moving to the cloud. Microsoft’s online services have been designed with security in mind. Office 365 applications are accessed through 128-bit SSL/TSL encryption so that if a transmission is intercepted by someone without authorization, they won’t be able to read it. Antivirus signatures are kept up to date, and security measures are applied in accordance with the Microsoft Trustworthy Computing initiative. Exchange Online uses Forefront Online Protection for Exchange (FOPE) to protect mail messages from malware, and it uses anti-spam filtering and antivirus with multiple virus engines.
The Security Development Lifecycle (SDL) is applied to Microsoft Online Services development, deployment, and maintenance. Microsoft monitors the systems continuously for suspicious activity and has a robust incident response protocol in place. Microsoft also does regular security audits. You can read more about the security of Microsoft Online Services in this whitepaper.
After security, the most commonly mentioned area of concern regarding cloud services is reliability. Downtime means lost worker productivity and ultimately costs companies money. Microsoft Online Services provides a service level agreement (SLA) and has a 99.9 percent scheduled uptime. Microsoft has multiple datacenters, located all over the world, hosting redundant network architecture. If there is an outage at one datacenter, another can act as a backup. Customers hosted by the first datacenter are transferred to another, with as little service interruption as possible.
Compliance with government and industry regulations is a big deal in today’s business world. Microsoft Office 365 services have been certified as compliant with ISO 27001 standards, completed SAS70 Type I and II audits, and achieved the EU Safe Harbor seal. Microsoft has also added controls for helping customers comply with HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act).
In today’s economy, many companies can’t upgrade all of their desktop systems to the latest operating system. That’s not necessary to use Office 365. Microsoft Online Services supports not only Windows 7 and Vista (SP2), but also Windows XP SP3. Even XP Home edition or Media Center edition can be used, although it doesn’t support federated identity. Mac users can also access the Office 365 applications, using OS X 10.5 (Leopard) or 10.6 (Snow Leopard).
The online Web portal for administration works with Internet Explorer 7 or later, Mozilla Firefox 3.x, or Apple Safari 3.x. The Outlook Web App can also be accessed with any of those browsers or with Google Chrome 3 and later versions
5: Zero Downtime for Email
Exchange Online gives you the benefits of Exchange Server 2010 without the cost and overhead of deploying it in-house. User mailboxes up to 25 GB are supported (administrators can reduce the capacity on a per-user basis), and personal archives provide more storage space. Attachments up to 25 MB are allowed. Users can restore deleted items, including items deleted from the Deleted Items folder. Even if an item has been permanently deleted or manually purged, it can be recovered if you enable Single Item Recovery (disabled by default). And if you, as administrator, delete a user, you can request that the mailbox be recovered for 30 days after the deletion.
Users connect to Exchange Online via Outlook 2007 or 2010, with such features as Outlook Anywhere (RPC-over-HTTP) and Cached Exchange Mode. With Outlook 2010, you get all the new Exchange 2010 features, such as conversation view, ignore, MailTips, personal archive, protected voicemail, and voicemail preview.
Users can also connect via Outlook Web App if they don’t have the Outlook client installed, over any of the most popular Web browsers. There is a Light version that supports older and alternative browsers.
Mac users can use Microsoft Entourage 2008 Web Services Edition (free update for those who use Entourage 2008). IMAP and POP access are supported, and Exchange Active Sync for mobile devices (Windows phones, Palm devices, iPhone/iPad, and some Android and Nokia devices) is also supported.