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With all the excitement around the beta of Office 365, we asked a few of our customers to share their thoughts and experiences thus far on using the Office 365 beta. You can read more guest posts like this one here.
By David M. Kroenke, Textbook Author
I’ve been an independent textbook author since 1974, mostly writing college-level texts on the use of technology in business. I’m based in Seattle and Whidbey Island, but I work with a team of editors and designers all over the United States. We produce two or three new editions of information systems textbooks a year.
Textbook publishing is a complex, detail-oriented process with the potential for a zillion errors to creep in. It’s also time-critical. We can only publish in late December or early January. Our team relies on emails and file servers to share chapters, but everyone knows the problems with that: people don’t read their emails, or they don’t get an attachment, or you can’t identify the latest document version on the server, or you want the version that is two versions before the current one.
As soon as I heard about Office 365, I wrote everyone I know at Microsoft to get into the beta program. After using it a few days, realizing how productive it made me, I thought, “This is big-time; it’s going to blow the barn doors off the market.” So, I stopped working on my then-current textbook and Don Nilson and I started writing a book for business professionals about using Office 365. (Titled Office 365 in Business, to be published by Wiley.)
Office 365 makes it easier than ever to work with people all over the country. If I want to show a diagram or document to our team, I use Lync Online to share it using video conferencing. It’s like we’re sitting together in the same room—actually it’s better because we can save our whiteboard, something we can’t do face-to-face. The saved whiteboards become de facto minutes and a by-product of the meeting that no one has to write.
I’m even more fanatical about Microsoft SharePoint Online, part of the Office 365 suite. We use it to track documents, screenshots, tasks, and calendars. Version control is the biggest benefit for a small business like mine. The textbook production process generates dozens of drafts and hundreds of figures and screenshots. With SharePoint Online, we can keep all that material straight. With Office 365 version control, we never pick up the wrong version. We use alerts, too.
Office 365 reduces the hassle of working between two offices. I don’t store anything on my local computer anymore—it’s all on my team site. I never have to remember which computer I put particular files on. No more carting thumb drives back and forth, nor worrying about data loss if I drop my computer somewhere.
No small business knows how to run a server, nor do they want to. They want to run their business. What happens if somebody pushes the floor buffer into your server? You’ve lost your data. No small business can afford that. With Office 365, Microsoft hosts everything, and I no longer worry about reliability, security, or natural disasters. If Microsoft is down for a period of time, it pays you for your lost time. I have four servers sitting in a corner of my office that I haven’t turned on in months, nor do I want to.
The best part is, I’m no longer working as an unpaid server administrator. I’m a writer of technology textbooks, which is what I want to be. Eventually, I could figure it out, but I never wanted to apply the latest service pack to Windows Server, or remember to upgrade SQL Server first—or is it the other way around? Somebody does want to do that; let him or her do it for us in a Microsoft data center. And, yeah, I’m saving money on servers and software, too. Office 365 is a no-brainer.
Anyone need a server? Or four?
To learn more about David and his book, Office 365 in business, check out his website (build simply with SharePoint Online) or meet him in person on July 27!
Not to throw a spanner in the works, but the other side of this coin is that monthly cost.
A lot of small businesses learned in this last downturn (which is still ongoing IMNSHO) is that the ongoing costs ($125/Month, $200/Month, etc) needed to be paired down to the least amount possible.
If they purchase their IT Solution upfront when cash flow is good, they can cut out their MSP temporarily to reduce their monthly maintenance costs. They can remove all costs associated with ongoing maintenance until such time as things pick up.
They cannot do that with a Cloud based solution ... _any_ Cloud based solution.
We find that small businesses prefer to have flexibility with their cash flow when they are beyond the start-up phase (2-3 years+). And, many prefer to _own_ their solution.
The monthly recurring charge is very small, and compared to an outright purchase of the equivalent Office software (and incremental h/w) for my company laptops, is very attractive. I can outfit a team of employees for far less than buying everything outirght. My ROI is very quick, and would expect that to be the same for many.
I have business needs beyond what a Microsoft data center can fulfill right now. I'm toe-dipping into cloud solutions, but it's not 100% there for all of my needs.
Yes, I too really want to jump right into Office365, but I have other software that needs to be shared across a network ... surely there are a few small businesses that don't only operate on Microsoft products?
I'll stand by my original statement: No small business should be running a server. If I had a need for shared applications beyond Office 365, I'd look to cloud apps like Salesforce.com.
I've been involved in three startups, and in every one of them time and money were scarce. The last think I'd want to spend either time or money on would be server administration. I'd want to focus on building my business. "If it flies, or floats, or computes, lease it!"
$6 a month per employee is cheap, IMO. And, even though it sounds like it, I don't own any MSFT stock nor do I have a Microsoft tattoo in some private place. It's just a useful, affordable product set that I use every day.
Small business managers will get a lot of push back from ISVs who stand to lose server support revenue. Those guys better find a different business model, it seems to me. Not just becasue of O365, but because of the cloud everywhere.
Apple built their 500,000 square foot iCloud data center in NC ... $1 billion ... staffed by 50 people, 24/7. Spread over 3 shifts, is that 7-8 people per shift? I don't think I'd want to be in the sever admin business these days.
I love MS Office 365 and SharePoint - and I'm selling big time in the Norwegian market.
BUT, a real show stopper is this:
Can anyone in MS start to focus on this?
This have been an issue since early beta!!!
I agree with you completely on this! It's silly ... down to the point that Microsoft won't even put a pdf icon on pdf documents in a library. And, have you noticed that Adobe doesn't include the word Microsoft in its spell checker???? It's always mis-spelled. Come on, vendors, let's all grow up and help users, meaning those of us who eventually pay for all this!
This won't help your users, Stein, but it might help you: You can open a pdf document in Acrobat X Pro. Just click the open dialog and enter the domainname.onmicrosoft.com and it will go to your team site ... you can find the sub-site and document from there.
I hope you get some traction from someone in Microsoft on this one!
The Microsoft Office 365 release on June 28, 2011 has stimulated much curiosity and speculation on the