I’ve been hearing about Office 365, so I signed up and am giving it a whirl. There’s much to talk about, but here’s some notable first impressions:
- BES is not supported. I don’t know if there’s a way to integrate BES servers into your environment, but MS doesn’t support BES. You can connect a Blackberry using IMAP. If you do that, you have to sync contacts and calendars manually. ActiveSync is fully supported.
- If you have Office 2010 Professional Plus installed and integrated with Office 365, you cannot use web apps. You have to use the installed apps and then save into Sharepoint.
- Office Web Apps are significantly stripped down versions of the Office Apps. They will probably be fine for most Office users, but this should be understood before making choices.
- Office Web Apps can be used in IE, Firefox, and Safari. I haven’t tested Chrome, but I’m sure that works too.
- It appears that Live Meeting has been rolled into Lync. That’s great!
- Lync can be accessed using OWA, but it’s a stripped down version.
- Sharepoint Workspace is probably the best way to connect into Sharepoint file stores, but it is possible to map drives into the file stores. I doubt this is advisable.
- It’s possible to pick individual Office 365 services instead of the designated “plans.” This ala carte ordering system allows you to spend as little as $2 a month for Lync only or as much as you’d like. The nice thing about this is that if you are already licensed for Office 2010 Professional Plus, you can pick plan E2 and add-on services thus saving $12 per user per month (for Office).
- Exchange Online Archiving is $4 per user per month. I think that’s a good price.
- Office 365 is a very powerful service. It enables organizations to quickly put up Exchange and Sharepoint environments in very little time. Office 365 can be about as simple or as complex as the user needs.
That’s pretty much it for now off the top of my head. I recommend organizations of all sizes become knowledgable in the capabilities of Office 365. It gives companies the ability to replace significant amounts of infrastructure with a very capable service. And for small companies it puts them on a level playing field with the big boys. I hate to say it, but once it’s rolled out, it requires very little back-end IT attention.
Office 365 Buyers Guide (in .xps format for some bizarre reason)