When Concentrated Technology moved to Microsoft Office 365 nearly one year ago, it knew the industry had mixed feelings about the cloud-based collaboration service. And the company's experiences weren't
- Regular investments toward improvements. In its infancy, Microsoft
Office 365 was a bit rough around the edges. Over the past year, we have seen improvements
across areas most relevant to our needs.
- Eliminates the time and cost of server administration. At its core, Concentrated
Technology is an IT company; server administration doesn't directly drive revenues. More
specifically, every hour the company spends troubleshooting Microsoft Exchange and SharePoint is an
hour away from helping clients.
- Meets a specific need. Our business is driven by email and document exchanges. Office
365's hosted instances of Exchange and SharePoint fulfill those needs. We've experienced no loss of
service and no notable performance issues during the last year. We've found value in Web-based
rendering of Office documents and the shared calendaring features. However, one missing element is
a Lync that connects with external contacts.
- PowerShell "in the cloud" administration. We're geeks at heart, which means we're
thrilled that Microsoft has incorporated PowerShell
administration into Office 365. With just a few commands,
a person moderately savvy in PowerShell could concurrently administer and manage other local
machines within the same shell. PowerShell haters might complain certain activities are
challenging, but we've found the experience to be well architected.
- Office Online Services works (surprisingly) well. We were skeptical about Office Online
Services' integration into Office 365. We had been burned repeatedly in the past when attempting to
use Google Docs, so we were wary.
While Office Online Services isn't without a few quirks and doesn't support the full range of features in the standard Office 2010 application suite, we've found it provides a good enough experience for a few key uses -- creating spreadsheets and uploading them to Office Online Services for shared data entry, for example. Splitting those activities between the full client and the browser gives us a suitable experience for our needs.
- Multiple-device support performs as promised. Microsoft can sometimes find itself stuck
in the middle of a lot of finger-pointing when support problems occur. That position becomes only
less enviable as our world grows more heterogeneous.
Microsoft put forth its best effort to ensure multiple-device support with Office 365. I work with a Windows desktop and laptop as well as an Android device and iPad. And while improvements can be made to the process of accessing SharePoint documents, the email and calendaring experience is sufficient.
When speaking with IT professionals, we are often asked, "When is Office 365 a good idea?" The bottom line is -- like any cloud computing-based application or service -- it's a good idea when it makes sense for your organization.
Greg Shields, Microsoft MVP, is a partner at Concentrated Technology. Get more of Greg's Jack-of-all-trades tips and tricks at www.ConcentratedTech.com.
This was first published in September 2012