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Sometimes people refer to the cloud as a "disruptive" technology. But that's really the wrong word to describe Office 365. Constructive? Yes. Practical? That, too. Microsoft understands that businesses don't care for surprises. We have gone to great lengths to make Office 365 familiar and easy to use.
New capabilities, no matter how powerful in theory, don't deliver value unless users use them. That's why Office 365 is all about lighting up Office - the desktop and Web-based productivity tools that users rely on every day. For example, it takes little to no training for users to take advantage of the presence information in Office that becomes available with Office 365. It just works, immediately, easily enabling more efficient collaboration and decision-making.
Now let's look at how Office 365 doesn't disrupt your datacenter. First of all, you can choose a plan that enables coexistence. That means you can keep your on-premises Exchange Server and Lync Server and integrate them with Office 365 services. Therefore if some users are on Exchange Server and others are using Exchange Online, they can share free/busy information-no silos, no disconnect. If you want to take advantage of the PBX replacement scenario available with Lync Server, you can do that while using Exchange in the cloud. Coexistence* gives you the flexibility to migrate to the cloud at your own pace, keep certain users on-premises for compliance or other reasons, and get the right mix of features and architecture for your business.
Notice we said "choose a plan." That's also an important point-there's a range of plans available to enterprises, and you can mix and match them as you need. If some users need Office Web Apps and others don't, you can do that. If you have some kiosk workers who don't have dedicated PCs and just need lightweight, Web-based access, you can do that. If you need coexistence, you can do that, too. It's your choice and you can get what works for your business.
Of course, one of the benefits of cloud-based productivity services is that you get the latest features without having to do much. But, our approach to this style of innovation is business-focused-that is, surprisingly surprise-free. We plan to update the services frequently with deliberate, responsible, fully-tested capabilities and upgrades. It's innovation that is customer-centered rather than for its own sake.
Hopefully, this post has given you some insight into how Microsoft takes a measured, customer-centric approach to productivity in the cloud. In the next post, we'll talk about how we deliver enterprise-class security and reliability so you don't have to.
* Check out the Exchange Server Deployment Assistant, which provides customized instructions for your business about how to configure rich coexistence
Allen, Office 365 Product Manager
We current have users set up with Thin Clients connected to the same server which access individual desktops that have certain applications based on the user's account set up. These users can also RDP to their individualized desktops while away from the office. With Office365 does the user have the ability to store a Word or Excel document either on their local desktop (i.e. Company server) or in the cloud-based server associated with Office365? I'm trying to figure out how our current environment would work with Office365.
@Mark: I am not sure they would exactly work together, Office 365 would be an upgrade and replacement for the situation you are describing. If you are not familiar with SharePoint, I encourage you to take a look at sharepoint.microsoft.com to learn more. Office 365 comes with SharePoint Online, which allows you to create team site, intranet sites, personal sites and even external public facing websites, all with the ability to store, share and edits documents, both with Office Pro Plus and Office Web Apps. I'd encourage you to also look at the SharePoint Online Service Description http://bit.ly/iaxtxq if you'd like more technical details about what is available in Office 365, and checkout Office365.com.
What is the pricing for Office365 with different options as in MS BPOS. How do we get migrated from MS BPOS to Office 365.
Check out our transition center for more information on transition, and Office365.com for pricing. BPOS will be transitioned to the Enterprise offer (E1) which includes all the same capabilities that BPOS did today, at the same $10 price.
I am in a similar situation as Eric mentioned. I am working with a Not For Profit in Australia which are looking at moving email and collaboration to the cloud for volunteers and Office 365 looks like it would be perfect and i don't really want to set up BPOS to evaluate just to migrate to Office 365 in a few months.
@Mitchell: Thanks for your comment. I understand you situation, if that is the case, you will need to hold on for just little while longer. Although we are letting more and more folks into the beta as we move along, we don't currently support Office 365 beta in Australia, so you will have to wait until our full launch.