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Published on Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Office 365: Everything a CIO should know

Office 365: Everything a CIO should know

Office 365: Everything a CIO should know

It’s getting close to a year since Microsoft launched Office 365 in June 2011. You have surely heard by now about Office 365 having an excellent adoption within the smaller businesses. Prior to Office365, Microsoft’s online services offering BPOS wasn’t quite the answer for the competition that existed. Office365 is the true cloud based productivity, communication and collaboration services offering that directly takes on Google Apps which has been in the market since Feb 2007. Google entered the productivity market as a fringe competitor with its Google apps offering and emerged into leadership since cloud was a Blue Ocean at the time. Move to cloud for Microsoft Office did not see any barriers but seems like a very natural extension to its high volume, low price business model. Microsoft’s performance in this segment of the cloud in such a short time is telling of the value prop in this highly price sensitive segment. With this success the competition is moving up to the larger sized businesses, where Microsoft has traditionally had a great presence.

Cloud V/S On Premise:

Cloud in the context of the online services for productivity and collaboration – is an attractive proposition for SMBs seeking to make the most of the technology available today at lower costs and lower risk. The upfront investment is low, they don’t need to invest in software / hardware, licensing and renewal costs are kept to a minimum, total cost of ownership is reduced and they only pay for what they use. While many companies remain concerned about security, systems’ redundancy, functionality and who has access to their data in the Cloud, the cost benefits very often outweigh these considerations. These concerns are also partly the fear of new and are less concerning when looked into the details of each feature.

While the control over all systems and corporate data is desirable in some instances, lack of licensing costs or new infrastructure setup overheads in a cloud scenario outweighs it. Challenges such as data growth, secure support for mobility with myriad devices warrant high cost IT staff and operational expenses. All these are not closely looked into while making the decision between cloud v/s On Premise.

Decision to move to the cloud in larger enterprises is not always easy with the complexity in business processes and dependency on enterprise software. However, Microsoft’s pervasive technologies that offer familiar experience and seem-less integration and interoperability presents a compelling value.

From a pure cost stand point, does cloud really save you money? Although the answer as in most cases is “it depends”, research on many typical organization sizes and their True Cost of Ownership for IT services has indicated that the answer in most cases is a yes, cloud is a money saver.

Office 365 V/S Google Apps:

Migration to cloud depends not just on the pricing of the bundle of features you are offered, but on a whole lot of other operational and nonfunctional aspects that amount to the total cost of ownership. It is however hard to do an apples-to-apples comparison given the services have different value props. I have compared the aspects from these Office 365 and Google Apps offerings. I have explained below the features in Office 365 in comparison with what’s available on Google Apps based on what matters to an Enterprise CIO. Also covered are the nonfunctional and operational aspects to keep in mind towards TCO.

Pricing:

Base price alone is misleading since it’s a comparison between apples to oranges. But here it is,

Office 365:

  • Pricing for Office 365 starts at $6 per user per month for small organizations with fewer than 25 employees.For organizations with more than 25 employees, pricing ranges from $10-27 per user per month, but there’s also kiosk pricing at $4 or $10 a month.

Google Apps:

  • Google Apps for Business costs either $5 a month per user or $50 a year per user.

Here is more detailed Office 365 Pricing,

Please continue reading to get a fairer assessment for what’s being offered for that price.

Features:

What’s in the bundle?

Office 365:

  • hosted e-mail
  • calendars
  • Word
  • Excel
  • PowerPoint
  • OneNote
  • SharePoint
  • Lync

Google Apps:

  • hosted e-mail
  • calendars
  • a word processor
  • presentations
  • drawings
  • a Website
  • video storage

Collaboration and File Management:

Office 365:

  • Lync. SharePoint 2010 (document sharing, online backup, shared contacts, calendars, folders)

Google Apps:

  • IM, Docs and Cloud Connect services

Microsoft Outlook:

Office 365:

  • Exchange 2010 enables full support of Microsoft Outlook 2010 features such as improved calendaring and conversation view
  • Outlook Web App (enhanced web access available with Exchange 2010
  • Microsoft Outlook 2011 for Mac available

Google Apps:

  • Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook is a plug-in for Outlook 2003, 2007, or 2010; however, there are limitations and synchronization issues between the two

Microsoft Office Software:

Office 365:

  • Web Apps offered as a subscription (expires on termination of subscription)
  • Office 2010 Professional Plus suite available as add-on (higher-end plans only)

Google Apps:

  • Google Docs or customer can provide own copies of Microsoft Office software

Compatibility:

Office 365:

  • Office 365 can open most of the Office documents with no issues
  • Microsoft sales intelligence shows people like word, excel, powerpoint loaded on their machines. So if you have Office Professional plus – compatibility is a nonissue.

Google Apps:

  • Users report being able to import documents with basic formatting with no problems, but more complex formatting tends to cause problems. That’s probably not a problem for most users most of the time, but can be a show stopper at times.
  • Docs can import files in Office 97-2003, Office 2007/2010, OpenOffice text and RTF, CSV and a few other formats.
  • It can’t export in Office 2007/2010 format yet, but it can export PDFs.

Mobility:

Office 365:

  • Support for full range of smartphones and tablets, including ActiveSync (iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows 7) and BlackBerry (BIS)
  • BES not yet available

Google Apps:                   

  • Support for ActiveSync devices; BlackBerry support requires BES or downloadable apps from Google

Voice/Unified Communications Offering:

Office 365:

  • No voice offering
  • *third-party services available through Office 365 Marketplace

Google Apps:                   

  • Google Voice, a consumer-oriented service

Supported Mail Platforms:

Office 365:

  • Storage max 25 GB; message size limit 25 MB
  • Hosted version of Exchange 2010 (latest version); Outlook 2010 available as add on (higher-end plans only)

Google Apps:                    

  • Storage max 25 GB; message size limit 25 MB
  • Gmail connects with basic Pop or IMAP connection for mobile and Outlook; Gmail Business Plans are based off the same free Gmail service

Public Folders:

Office 365:

  • Public Folders not available

Google Apps:

  • Public Folders supported via Google Groups

Storage:

Office 365:

  • The basic 365plans provide 25GB of e-mail storage, but the more expensive plans offerunlimited storage. Attachment file sizes are limited to 35MB.
  • Officedocuments are stored in SharePoint Online, with a limit of 2GB.
  • Additionalstorage can be purchased for $2.5 per GB per user per month.

Google Apps:

  • Google appsfor Business provides 25GB per user for e-mail and 1GB per user fordocuments.
  • E-mailattachment sizes are limited to 25MB.

Operational and Nonfunctional Features:

Tech Support:

Office 365:

  • Built in support ticketing system in control panel
  • Microsoft certified support specialists
  • Online knowledge base and public community forum
  • 24×7 email and phone support (available on higher-end plans only) Average hold time is not reported

Google Apps:

  • Built in support ticketing system in control panel
  • 24/7 phone support not available except for escalated issues; email support Mon-Fri, 24 hours a day

Migration Support:

Office 365:

  • Online migration toolkit available for self migrations
  • Online Support knowledgebase, discussion forum and Community Forum
  • Assistance for hybrid deployments and 24/7 phone support (available on higher-end plans only)

Google Apps:

  • Online migration toolkit and discussion forum support
  • Online forum

Reliability and Security:

Office 365:

  • Policy-based Encryption add-on available; requires additional configuration
  • Wipe ActiveSync devices only
  • Doesn’t yet support HIPAA
  • Supports Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA)

Google Apps:

  • Google Message Encryption service available
  • Wipe ActiveSync devices; BlackBerry device wipe requires BES
  • Doesn’t support HIPAA
  • Claimed to support FISMA but not quite!

Operations: SLA and Location of Data

Office 365:

  • Multiple datacenters located worldwide, with globally-redundant, enterprise grade reliability utilizing automatic failover and a strict privacy policy.
  • 99.9% financially backed SLA

Google Apps:

  • Does not reveal which of its global datacenters are used
  • 99.9% SLA
  • SAS 70 Type II audited

Backup:

Office 365:

  • Account level backups
  • Multiple layers of redundancy at datacenter level, so lost or corrupted account data can be restored

Google Apps:

  • Account level backups
  • Datacenters designed with resiliency and redundancy in mind, minimizing the impact of common equipment failures and environmental risks

Archiving:

Office 365:

  • Available

Google Apps:

  • Available
BloggerRavi Mallikarjuniah
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