By Dr. Mark Zecca, CIO, Kyriba, Ltd.
Moore’s law tells us that technology will double itself in any given time period. Yet we still follow what seems cool at the time rather than what works. As a Google Apps user, my company felt that it was cool to go with a cloud based service. This was important since the company was into Cloud Service. What better way to feel “cool” than to be a cloud service using a cloud service?
Once being cool morphs into functional demand, the story changes. Collaboration, stable functionality, and single portal engagement drive many businesses today. These are drivers of a more functional platform, a platform capability we were not getting with Google Apps. The uniformity of data structures between the various 365 applications makes it easier to achieve a seamless operation. It took relatively little to set up a functional administrative environment in Office 365 versus what it had taken to set up and manage Google.
The Outlook set up from the web-based version of Office 365, allowed us to access our email, contacts, tasks, and especially our calendar, using an Outlook Web App client. The web client is somewhat similar in both tactile and visual experience to the desktop application of Outlook. The Online Web Access (OWA) experience has been converted to a more intuitive experience instead of the separated experience of a basic and advanced version. Now, with Office 365 the best experience is provided to every one.
As strong Share Point users, it was good to see that the SP experience was the same in Office 365 as it is in the in-premise solution. This was very important as SP services our Intranet and acts as an internal applications portal for the company. Prior to this, we had to use a series of directed apps in and outside of Google and then surround it with a series of authentication routines using Google’s authentication engine and double-factored messaging. This causes a random interruption in working the apps and an obvious set of working parts that are open to issues.
“Collaboration, stable functionality, and single portal engagement drive many businesses today”
The proliferation of text messaging, short address, and multi-media tools has exploded. Our environment is no different than many companies that have Jabber, Yammer, Sametime, and Chatter struggle to settle up on one uniform messaging platform. Office 365’s version of Lync is an update to the Microsoft Office Communications ’07 Server. It will look very family as it works and acts just like the inpremise version. The Lync application is a robust platform that contains instant messaging with a fully functional video conference capability, document sharing, and desktop telephone servicing. Unlike many of its competitors, it integrates very well with the Office applications of Word, Excel, Power Point, and Access. The convenience of having this work all from a single Dashboard and Portal makes this a much easier system to administer as well as use.
Unlike our legacy work with Google, the 365 product has become easier to administer, especially the collaboration settings. These are now collected together in the External Sharing tab in the 365 administration portal. By enabling these settings, administrators can give their users the ability to share access to their SharePoint sites, documents, Tasks, and Exchange calendars. This makes it easier to share data with external systems and reduces the lost emails and calendar invites. If you set the collaboration selection in Lync, you can enable your enterprise to message just about anyone using messaging. These and other selections in the general administration portal are available in one control panel, reducing the need to go to different management systems and coordinate settings. Like many companies today, my company works more in a virtual presence. As a result we rely heavily on the mobile and virtual experience. Keeping a secured capability for mobile workers is a one of the strengths of Office 365. It is easily implemented for new users and provides an extensible business functionality experience for various levels of knowledge workers. Adding new users is a five minute administrative function. Our experience with Google Apps was very often problematic with new users as we have various levels and systems that had to be coordinated in order for the user to be fully empowered.
Today, we experience Moores Law in vitro, as our initial migration to Office 365 business applications followed by systems communication and functional advancements improve our data management and communication ability.