One of the most common misunderstandings about Office 365 is the belief that it provides the traditional Microsoft Office suite via a web browser as a “lite” version, but with some added functionality like Skype and OneDrive. Most who think this also believe that Office 365 tools can only be used online.
Truth is, Office 365 is another way to deliver the Office tools, which are also installed on users’ devices, plus all the other rich functionality of Office 365 such as Skype for Business and Active Directory integration.
1. Moving to Office 365 requires an all-or-nothing commitment to the cloud.
Although Office 365 has cloud components, such as using Microsoft Azure cloud’s Active Directory Domain Services for identity management, SMBs don’t have to move to the cloud entirely. Most adopt a hybrid approach, moving one or a few applications like email, then more applications over time. SoftwareONE’s four-step process described later in this paper can help develop a carefully considered plan that aligns with an SMB’s needs and resources.
2. Lack of backwards compatibility for legacy integrations can disrupt processes and workflows.
Microsoft and SoftwareONE know that many SMBs may have business-critical applications and Office add-ins that must continue working to prevent potentially serious business disruptions. For this reason, Microsoft has taken great pains to ensure that updates to Office 365 do not affect other software applications.
In two years of monthly releases, for example, Office 365 has not had any changes in its object model or API. Microsoft also works closely with the world’s top software providers to make sure their applications that work with Office can still do so with Office 365.
3. Constant internet connections are needed to access Office 365 applications.
In addition to all its cloud-based functionality and administrative tools, Office 365 provides users with a full set of local productivity and collaboration applications on their devices. This way they can use their tools when they’re offline in the same way as when they’re online. And they can sync their files and data the next time they’re online. All licensing and updating are done via SaaS in the Microsoft Azure highly secure cloud.
Office 365 is only different from localized version of Office (e.g., Office 2013 for Windows) in how it’s compiled, not in its feature set or in the locations of its code. For example, instead of compiling an install package such as the MSI Install, Microsoft App-V creates a local payload that runs the app entirely in its own memory space, thus allowing users to run both Office 365 and any of its MSI-based predecessors on the same device at the same time. This supports the previously mentioned backwards compatibility of legacy versions too.
4. Putting data in the Cloud reduces control and increases security risks.
Many SMBs are concerned about losing local control of their data, while potentially exposing it in the cloud to government and competitor snooping, not to mention cyber thieves. Such fears are unfounded.
First, with integrated Active Directory and Rights Management Services (RMS), SMB administrators retain full control over identity management as well as domain and data access for users. What they give up instead is the capital and operating expenses – not to mention the time, effort, and hassle – of managing on-premises data storage.
Second, Microsoft was the first cloud provider in 2015 to adopt the world’s first International Organization for Standardization (ISO), it establishes a uniform, global approach to protecting the privacy for cloud-stored data. The British Standards Institute independently verified that both Microsoft Azure and Office 365 comply with the standard’s data protection requirements.
Third, managing security on a local basis requires full-time expertise that typically commands a premium in compensation – an expense most SMBs can’t afford, which even large enterprises struggle to keep up with. Every seek seems to bring news of yet another major data security breach. But because Office 365 is hosted in Azure, the levels of security are on par with and may exceed those of many federal government agencies.
5. Office 365 doesn’t comply with data privacy requirements of many industries.
Whether a doctor’s office, an insurance agency, or a local retailer, most SMBs are subject to strict regulations governing the privacy of their patients’, clients’, and customers’ data.
As just mentioned, Microsoft has taken all necessary steps to safeguard the data of its Office 365 customers. Not only does its staff include top security experts, but also experts I regulatory compliance. These individuals know in details and stay updated on the latest developments in the wide range of rules and regulations.
Among those regulations are:
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
The Federal Information and Security Management Act (FISMA)
European Union (EU) Model Clauses
US and EU Safe Harbor Frameworks
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
Canadian Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act
Bringing it all in – Going beyond the myths and Driving Business Results
Office 365 provides the ultimate flexibility for users: Not only can they access these tools and any cloud-stored data anytime and anywhere, but they can also access the tools and data across most any device. This can be big for SMBs that might even encourage user BYOD to help reduce client device costs. Office 365 supports both Windows and Apple OS X platforms for desktop, laptop, and 2-in-1 PCs. It also supports tablets and smartphones using Android, iOS, and Windows operating systems.
As mentioned earlier, this is a small excerpt from a broader whitepaper that helps organizations of all sizes more intelligently adopt Office 365 through the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program. To learn more about this program, click the button below to download our FREE whitepaper.