In his session titled Office 365: What is the Right Fit for You, SharePoint Architect and Engineer Andrew Riley discusses the ins and outs of Office 365 in an attempt to help attendees determine whether or not a move to the cloud was right for them. With 2016 being the “Year of the Cloud” according to Gartner, it’s become more important than ever to evaluate the cloud’s relevance and query whether the cloud is a viable option for your organization.
Andrew began his presentation with a user-friendly, high-level overview of Office 365 and some of its key components and selling points, including Microsoft Office, Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync. Of the selling points, Andrew highlighted the fact that not only does Office 365 offer a flavor for almost everyone, but it also offers many standalone options that provide a level of flexibility when creating your cloud Office 365 solution. This includes the ability to mix and match your plans. For example, a university can purchase a more robust enterprise plan for their faculty and pair it with a more slimmed-down version for their students.
After hearing Andrew’s overview, are you starting to think?
that Office 365 might be the right option for you? If so, your next step is to consider migration options. According to Andrew, there are a number of different options available when migrating to Office 365 as well as a number of different things to consider. Specifically, one should take into consideration customizations, information architecture, permissions, and content cleanup (e.g., how much of the content on your SharePoint site is junk that doesn’t need to be added to the new site). Once you’ve done an inventory of your SharePoint site and are ready to migrate, how do you plan on getting there? As stated, there are a number of options available such as custom coding, third-party tools, and the move to a hybrid environment.
In the event that you aren’t able to commit to an all-cloud-based SharePoint environment, one of the best ways to straddle on-premise and the cloud is to support a hybrid environment. One of the biggest advantages of a hybrid environment is that it allows you to maintain more sensitive data as well as customizations on-prem. However, with the benefits, there are a few challenges you may encounter. These include no global navigation without customization and no single sign-on. Additionally, unlike Office 365, a hybrid option is NOT turnkey and will require some intervention from IT.
Whether you decide to opt for a hybrid environment or Office 365, almost all of us have the same question: Will going to the cloud really save me money? According to Andrew, there’s no easy answer; it really depends on your organization and scenario. Office 365 definitely has its share of advantages including:
- Access anywhere;
- Fast, turnkey configuration;
- Always have the latest version;
- No maintenance; and
- Everything is packaged together.
Conversely, with all these advantages, there are also a number of downsides to implementing Office 365. These include a lack of change/patch management, as well as limited administrative system control by in-house IT. Downsides aside, however, the most important thing to do when considering moving to Office 365 is to do your homework. There’s a lot of research and information available out there.