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SaaS: Microsoft Pitches Office 365 To Large Enterprises

There are still a lot of questions around the upcoming Microsoft Office 365 cloud suite -- it has the very ambitious goal of delivering unified communications, productivity, and collaboration as a service to businesses of all shapes and sizes. But much of the Office 365 attention thus far has focused on SMBs. What can it do for larger organizations? Hmmm...

The VAR Guy

November 9, 2010

2 Min Read
SaaS: Microsoft Pitches Office 365 To Large Enterprises

There are still a lot of questions around the upcoming Microsoft Office 365 cloud suite — it has the very ambitious goal of delivering unified communications, productivity, and collaboration as a service to businesses of all shapes and sizes. But much of the Office 365 attention thus far has focused on SMBs. What can it do for larger organizations? Hmmm… A new Microsoft blog series aims to answer that question. Here’s the scoop… plus The VAR Guy’s perspectives.

The Office 365 blog entry says Microsoft’s vision is of a unified cloud platform that unites the desktop, browser, and smartphone, with the best experiences for each. For instance, the Office 365 phone client has the option to take snapshots that will be dropped in the OneNote digital notebook — an option not available in the others that still extends the functionality to every interface. It’s something of less interest to companies without the need for, say, a BlackBerry Enterprise Server deployment, but for the larger business it could be a boon.

Moreover, Office 365 aims to help enterprise users get cloud services on their own terms. Using Microsoft Lync Server or Exchange Server on-premises? No problem, Microsoft says — Office 365 lets you disable UC and messaging, leaving the productivity and collaboration aspects fully functional and keeping the option of migrating those services to the cloud open.

And part of that, too, is the ability to have all aspects of Office 365 be collaborative, network-aware, and integrative. Voicemail transcripts are left in the Outlook inbox, co-authoring sessions can be launched directly from within Word, and voice calls can become full-fledged online meetings, according to that blog entry.

Microsoft is promising more specific insight into the feature set and interface that makes all this possible in a forthcoming entry, so keep watching The VAR Guy for more. But in the meanwhile, it looks like Microsoft has a good idea of what they want Office 365 to mean to the IT world: a cost-effective, all-in-one solution for any sized enterprise. Whether or not it succeeds will probably have a lot to do with how well they court partners to the platform.

No doubt, plenty of partners are upset about Microsoft’s pricing and billing strategy for Office 365 and its forerunner, Business Productivity Online Suite. During last week’s ConnectWise IT Nation conference in Orlando, several IT service providers told The VAR Guy that they’re for Office 365 alternatives because they don’t want Microsoft billing customers directly.

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