Should I switch to Office 365

Many clients ask if they should consider hosted email solutions like Office 365 instead of traditional, on-premise Microsoft Exchange servers. Others want to know why they should consider Microsoft’s email solution over other hosted email solutions out there. There are a lot of advertisements floating around lately for Office 365, whether from Microsoft direct or partner companies. I wanted to take some time to answer some common questions about Office 365 hosted mail, in order to help you make an informed decision about whether Office 365 is the right choice for you.

The first thing I’ll point out is, if you run your own email in-house, you should know that the total cost of ownership (TCO) is much more than just the cost of an Exchange server, licensing, and installation.

If You’re not Making the Switch to Office 365 You should consider everything, including:

  • Cost of the Exchange server
  • Cost of hardware to run the Exchange server (server, disk, RAID, power, heating, cooling, backups)
  • Cost of bandwidth (Internet)
  • Cost of the licensing and client access licenses (CALs)
  • Cost of installing and configuring the Exchange server (it’s not as easy as 1..2..3!)
  • Cost of security (SSL certificates)
  • Cost of maintaining and updating the hardware and operating system (server maintenance contracts and upgrade insurance)
  • Cost of downtime for any hardware or Internet failures
  • Cost of Exchange consultants if you do have any issues

In all my years of being in the IT field, I have rarely seen a problem with an on-premise Exchange server that is an “easy fix”. And trust me when I say that I’ve seen plenty of misconfigured Exchange servers, too. Exchange and other on-premise mail systems tend to be complex with a lot of moving parts and require specific expertise. They require a lot of TLC to keep them operating properly and in tip-top condition. Our team at ToSolution has spent enough time installing, configuring, and troubleshooting Exchange transport services and log files to know that there can definitely be benefits to moving Exchange servers offsite to Office 365, especially for small business.

Here are 7 of the Benefits of Switching to Office 365

  1. By moving to Office 365, you get pay-as-you-go pricing, which provides predictability and flexibility. Buy as many licenses as you want. Scale up, or scale down. It’s really a lot simpler than running an on-premise server. This can save a lot of up-front cost.
  2. Office 365 is financially backed by Microsoft, a trusted name, with more up-time, geo-redundancy, disaster recovery and powerful security. At ToSolution, we recommend best-of-breed, robust, and mature solutions, not fly-by-night or “cheap” hosting plans. Microsoft is a trusted name in technology, and they have invested a lot of their dollars into an enterprise infrastructure to run Office 365.
  3. Get only the licenses you need for each user. This can be a particularly good idea for seasonal businesses or those who have a need to expand and contract the number of users on the email system.
  4. Office 365 is backed by ToSolution’s exceptional client care, US (Waukesha)-based support that is available when you need it. Our Office 365 clients enjoy the same support benefits as our ProVision clients.
  5. Upgrades happen automatically so your IT management costs go down. To stay secure and reliable, Exchange needs to be patched and updated regularly. The problem with on-premise servers is that each of these upgrades (especially service packs) can take the server offline for hours at a time. And what happens when patches and updates go wrong? With Office 365, Microsoft handles all updates in a way that doesn’t affect availability. In other words, email stays up, even when updates happen.
  6. Standardized tools mean you don’t need to remember multiple log-ins or learn new applications for each device. Reduce passwords! With Office 365 single sign on (SSO), you have the same username and password to access email, SharePoint, OneDrive, and your Office apps.
  7. Scale up as your business grows with a simple phone call. When you need more licenses because you hire additional staff, just give us a call, and we can add a user quickly. Just like that, you have a new user set up with email, SharePoint, OneDrive, and office application access.

One of the more confusing aspects of moving to Office 365 can be the various options that exist. For example, did you know there are several different email/SharePoint/OneDrive/Office plans to choose from, each with its own set of features? And guess what? Some of them aren’t that easy to find on Microsoft’s website. Different plans include different combinations of mailbox-only, mailbox and Office suite, OneDrive, Yammer, Delve, Skype, and SharePoint. Also, there are other plans that can be leveraged by businesses, including Office 365 Kiosk plans. These are perfect for shared users (for shift workers in warehouses, as an example).

Finally, one of the biggest advantages of moving to the Office 365 platform is that you can get the entire Microsoft Office suite with your email plan. This means that you get not only your mailbox, but a full copy of Microsoft Office (different versions available, depending on the plan you choose). It simplifies licensing dramatically, since you no longer have to deal with purchasing box or open license copies of Microsoft Office on the fly or as needed. And, your Office suite is always up-to-date on all your devices – PC, Mac, iPhone, Android…it doesn’t matter!

Still wondering, “Should I Switch to Office 365?”, if we can help in any way with your Office 365 decisions, let me know. Contact us today and we’ll set up a time to talk or visit to discuss your Office 365 questions and develop the right strategy for you. ToSolution is part of Microsoft’s Cloud Partner program, which means that we have expertise in all areas of Microsoft’s cloud solutions, which include Office 365 plans and programs. Other Microsoft Cloud offerings include Microsoft Azure and OneDrive, among others. One thing is for sure – the world of “cloud” and “hosted” solutions can be confusing, and our #1 goal is to take the confusion out of strategy decisions like this one!