Office 365 is Microsoft’s latest cloud offering for business, which comes with a lot of features and functionality. Basically it is a collection of hosted solutions of Microsoft Exchange for email, Lync for communication and SharePoint for storage, collaboration etc. along with Office web apps. It is well suited for companies that doesn’t want to maintain their own data centres. We were able to get our hands on the beta recently and here’s our thoughts.
Office 365 comes in a lot of flavors to cater to different needs of different types of businesses. Apart from specific plans for Professionals/Small Business and Education, there are four different plans for Enterprises. The P1 or plan for Professional/Small Business (with up to 25 users) costs 6$/person and consists of Microsoft Exchange, Lync and SharePoint along with the free Office Web Apps. The Professional Plus license of Office is not provided here. But the provided apps will work with Office desktop apps if you’ve already got one installed.
The plans for enterprises, as I mentioned above are categorized into four. Here’s an overview of the plans as shown by Microsoft.
While comparing the price of Office 365 (6 – 27$/user/month) to the cost of running and maintaining data centres, Office 365 is definitely competitively priced.
The registration was pretty much straight forward. Once you finish registration you will receive an email with the login URL.
Admin Home Page
First time, I logged into the Admin Page, I was greeted with a compatibility message asking me to use either IE or Firefox on Windows or Safari on Mac.
Chrome (which I was using) is not supported. Considering the growing popularity of Chrome, I think it should have also been supported although it didn’t throw up any errors during the small duration I was using it. I then logged into the Admin Home Page using IE9.
The Admin Page has got a simple and clean layout. From here you can access all the available apps and manage settings,features,users etc. There’s also a Resources section with links various How To’s and community. On the top there are links to the Outlook Web App and Team Site which is a SharePoint site.
The admin can add users by either creating new profiles or by importing from a CSV file. Office 365 also allows you to synchronize users in your local Active Directory environment. Once the users are imported or created you can assign different administrator rights to them or just keep them as casual users. Some of the available administrator positions are Billing, Global, Password, Service and User management. You can also assign them the licenses that they can use out of all the available licenses provided by your subscription.
When you register for Office 365, a specific sub-domain will be created for you. This domain can be used with emails, SharePoint team website etc. Of course you will be able to add a domain that you own by going to Domains section from under Management in the Admin Page.
Office 365 allows two types of setups – pilot and deployment.
Pilot setup will allow you to use individual components of the Office 365 suite and configure them to work along side with your existing environment. Thus you can use specific Office 365 apps along with the in-house hosted solutions such as Exchange that you might already have. Thus yoOffice 2u can make the move to Office 365 in phases.
Using the deployment setup, you can move your current environment to Office 365 immediately replacing the old one completely.
That’s all with the setup!
In the next part we will look into the individual apps included with Microsoft Office 365 suite.
This Infographic on Office 365 may also interest you!