Today the public beta for Office365 opened up. (Happy Tax Day). So, what does this mean? And where do you get started?
Well, there are a TON of resources out there for you to learn about Office365, how to get involved and what it can mean for your organization. For starters:
- The Microsoft press release
- The official Microsoft site (go here to sign up for the Beta)
- The Office365 Community Site
- And yes, even the Office365 Facebook page
- And don’t forget Twitter: @Office365
- Office365 Marketplace
So, what is this and why should you care? Office 365 is the newest version of Microsoft’s online (aka ‘cloud’) application offerings. This includes (depending on the version and licensing):
- SharePoint Online
- Exchange Online
- Lync Online
- Microsoft Office Professional Plus
The big picture is that you can use these services without installing, configuring and managing the hardware and core software stuff – a big load off for many organizations. You do still need someone that can configure and manage the service for your organization. But it’s a lot less work and hassle than managing an on-site set of servers.
More importantly, you need someone to define *how* your organization is going to use these services and how it fits with the organization’s goals and technology roadmaps – which is where people like me come in.
The short story is that it’s a lot of bang for your buck. The next batch of questions now become:
- Is Office365 a good fit for your organization?
- What is the best way to use Office365 in your organization?
- How will it work with your organization’s existing capabilities?
Office365 has a lot of potential to improve the productivity of users and organizations, but it also has the potential to add to the clutter of tools and systems that are out there – just as any platform used poorly can do.
So, check it out, allow yourself to get excited by the potential, but then slow down and put some time into planning so you can be successful down the road.