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Reasons why Office 365 Works for the SMB

Date posted: 29th September 2015

Microsoft recently released the latest version of its online productivity suite, Office 365. Office 365 includes email, collaboration, presence/communications (IM and audio/video calls and conferencing), and web versions of familiar Office Apps including Excel, Word, and PowerPoint. Office 365 from Microsoft makes it easy plus cost effective to migrate to the cloud without giving up the familiar Microsoft server and client applications that IT departments and end-users are comfortable with.

Here are some common reasons why Office 365 should be the first Cloud option for SMB in New York.

Reliability with Low-Maintenance: One of the most common concerns of IT leaders is reliability. Downtime creates lost worker productivity and ultimately costs companies money. Microsoft Office 365 in the cloud provides a service level agreement (SLA) and has a 99.9 percent scheduled uptime. Microsoft has multiple datacenters, located all over the world, hosting redundant network architecture. If there is an outage at one datacenter, another can act as a backup. Customers hosted by the first datacenter are transferred to another, with as little service interruption as possible.

Best-in-Class Security: Security is top-of-mind for companies looking to migrate to the cloud. Microsoft’s Office 365 have been designed with security in mind. Office 365 applications are accessed through 128-bit SSL/TSL encryption so that if a transmission is intercepted by someone without authorization, they won’t be able to read it. Antivirus signatures are kept up to date, and security measures are applied in accordance with the Microsoft Trustworthy Computing initiative. Exchange Online uses Forefront Online Protection for Exchange (FOPE) to protect mail messages from malware, and it uses anti-spam filtering and antivirus with multiple virus engines.The Security Development Lifecycle (SDL) is applied to Microsoft Online Services development, deployment, and maintenance. Microsoft monitors the systems continuously for suspicious activity and has a robust incident response protocol in place. Microsoft also does regular security audits.

Security in Office 365 Whitepaper

Compliance: Compliance with government and industry regulations is a big deal in today’s business world. Microsoft Office 365 services have been certified as compliant with ISO 27001 standards, completed SAS70 Type I and II audits, and achieved the EU Safe Harbor seal. Microsoft has also added controls for helping customers comply with HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act).

Compatibility (including Mac OS): Many IT leaders struggle to keep their operating systems and software up-to-date. That’s not necessary to use Office 365. Microsoft Online Services supports not only Windows 7 and Vista (SP2), but also Windows XP SP3. Even XP Home edition or Media Center edition can be used, although it doesn’t support federated identity. Mac users can also access the Office 365 applications, using OS X 10.5 (Leopard) or 10.6 (Snow Leopard). The online Web portal for administration works with Internet Explorer 7 or later, Mozilla Firefox 3.x, or Apple Safari 3.x. The Outlook Web App can also be accessed with any of those browsers or with Google Chrome 3 and later versions.

Up-to-date versions:With Office 365, companies and users get the latest version without the IT maintenance costs The services run on Exchange 2010 SP1, SharePoint 2010, and Lync. Client software is Microsoft Lync 2010 for Windows (Communicator for Mac), and the enterprise edition includes the licensing for Office 2010 Professional Plus.

Single sign-on: Compatible with Server 2008 Active Directory on-premises and Okta Enterprise Single Sign On, you can configure Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS) to achieve single sign-on, so that users can log on to the domain and be automatically authenticated to Office 365.

Exchange Online: Exchange Online provides all the functionality of Exchange Server 2010 without the cost and maintenance of deploying it on-premises User mailboxes up to 25 GB are supported with admin control maintained, and personal archives provide more storage space if needed. Attachments up to 25 MB are allowed identical to Exchange Server. Users can restore deleted items, including items deleted from the Deleted Items folder. Even if an item has been permanently deleted or manually purged, it can be recovered if you enable Single Item Recovery (disabled by default). And if you, as administrator, delete a user, you can request that the mailbox be recovered for 30 days after the deletion.

Users connect to Exchange Online via any version of Outlook, with such features as Outlook Anywhere (RPC-over-HTTP) and Cached Exchange Mode. With Outlook, you get all the new Exchange  features, such as conversation view, ignore, MailTips, personal archive, protected voicemail, and voicemail preview.

Users can also connect via Outlook Web App if they don’t have the Outlook client installed, over any of the most popular Web browsers. There is a Light version that supports older and alternative browsers.

SharePoint Online: SharePoint Online makes collaboration easy. You get 500 MB of storage per user account with a storage quota of up to 100 GB per site collection. Your company can have up to 1 TB total storage. Your SharePoint sites work with all Microsoft Office 365 applications, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, InfoPath, SharePoint Designer, and SharePoint Workspace. Sites can be accessed via IE 7/8, Firefox 3, or Safari 3.1.2 and through mobile devices including Windows Mobile 6.5.x, Windows Phone 7, Apple iPhone 2.0 and above, and Nokia E and N series.

With Microsoft Office 365 applications and SharePoint Online, two or more users can edit the same document at the same time. If you don’t have Office installed, you can use Office Web Apps to work with your documents in a Web browser. Also supported is PowerPoint broadcasting, which lets you broadcast your slide shows across the Internet even to people who don’t have PowerPoint. And you can manage documents offline and have everything automatically synchronized back to the server when you reconnect — a big plus for those who worry that cloud computing means being unable to get work done if you don’t have an Internet connection.

Your SharePoint sites are protected against viruses and malware by Forefront Security for SharePoint.

Lync/Skype for Business Online: Skype for Business formerly known as Lync Online is the communications service component of Office 365. You can also purchase it as a standalone service, for providing users with instant messaging, audio and video calling between PCs, Web conferencing, and presence. With the Skype for Business client software, users can send secure IMs and display presence status and monitor presence status of others. Skype for Business integrates with Outlook so users can find and communicate with others from within Outlook. Presence information can also be updated based on Exchange calendar information, and it integrates with SharePoint Online. Users can also transfer files during IM conversations.

Users can connect to Skype for Business directly over the Internet without having to VPN. Thanks to the federation feature, users can also IM people in other organizations that use Lync Online or host their own on-premise Skype servers. This requires that a federated relationship be set up by the administrators in both companies.

Users can attend online meetings with audio, video, and Web conferencing using the Skype for Business or using a phone with a PSTN audio conferencing service. Data sharing, including desktop and application sharing, whiteboard capability, and document sharing, is supported.

Last but not Least: Office Web Apps: Microsoft Office Web Apps is part of Office 365, but it doesn’t take the place of the full-featured Office applications; it supplements them. For sophisticated document creation and manipulation, you need a rich local application. But there are times when you’re away from your Office-equipped computer and need to do a quick edit. That’s where Web Apps come in. No matter where you are or what computer you’re using, you have access to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, and you can create or edit content and post it to your SharePoint site or save it in your SkyDrive folder. You get the same familiar interface you’re used to with traditional Office applications, and documents display the same way they do in the desktop apps. You can even view files on many popular mobile devices, including Windows phones, iPhone, Blackberry, Android. Supported file types include both older Office formats (.doc, .xls, .ppt) and the new XML-based formats (.docx, xlsx, pptx). Users can print Word documents and multiple users can edit a document simultaneously.