At last week’s SharePoint ShopTalk, the organizer asked me to do a quick overview of SharePoint Online and Office 365 – nothing too formal, just enough to start the conversation. So, I jotted down some notes, which I threw in to PowerPoint for my own purposes… which evolved into uploading them to the ShopTalk Live Meeting and was then asked to make them available – so I dropped them on SlideShare.
Now, a few days later they’ve had over 350 views. I even got a note from Slideshare on Friday that it was ‘trending’ on LinkedIn, so they put a link on the SlideShare homepage. Neat.
Kind of cool, though not as crazy as Spence’s Pod Show that had over 500 viewings in the first HOUR.
The recording of the ShopTalk session is now available HERE. Keep in mind, this isn’t something we did a lot of preparation for, so I’m kind of rambling. Hopefully someone might find it useful.
If you’re interested in SharePoint Online and Office 365, check back as I should have a case study for small business posted soon.
Enjoy the launch tomorrow!
Background: One of the challenges we face when talking about SharePoint – any version – is that there are not only several versions, but several products with SharePoint in the name. It’s not often we confuse SharePoint Workspace or SharePoint Designer for something in Foundation or Server. However when someone brings up ‘SharePoint’ it is often unclear if they are referring to SharePoint Foundation, SharePoint Server – Standard or Enterprise versions. It may seem like a simple issue, but when someone is talking about SharePoint features or solutions that are part of Enterprise, it’s important to make the distinction so that Foundation users don’t think they can do something they don’t have access to. The MNSPUG crowd has gotten pretty good at calling this out during presentations, and we are all glad for the distinction.
Now to the point of this post: A similar confusion seems to be brewing in the Office 365 space. There are several versions of Office 365 that have similar, but different feature and capability offerings – with SharePoint Online as well as Exchange Online. I haven’t seen any differences in Lync Online yet, but I haven’t used it as much as the other two yet. During the Beta, we’ve been exposed to the Small Business and Enterprise plans, with an Education offering also apparently on the way. Users need to be aware that when someone is referring to ‘Office 365’ that there can be significant differences between versions.
Most often when I hear people talking about ‘Office 365’ they are referring to the Enterprise version. While the Small Business version is certainly capable and appropriate for the target audience, it is definitely different from what is offered in the Enterprise edition.
One blog site has compiled a list of the feature differences between SharePoint Online in the Small Business Plan vs. the Enterprise Plan. There are also significant differences in the Exchange management as well, like when setting up forwarding, etc. More information will undoubtedly come out as the platform reaches public status.
More details on version capabilities and differences will come out. Just something to keep in mind for the time being.
I recently attended a conference session about resources and tools available for new business owners. While a lot of the conversation what about raising seed and venture money, one topic was about the tools and services that are essential to a new business.
They listed a lot of the things that you would expect: A phone number, a good place to get business cards and a business address (see below). Being in the technology field, I was thinking along different lines. They didn’t mention a domain name, email and a website, though I hope it was just assumed.
I would argue that with the release of Office 365, this is also going to be a small business essential tool. Office 365 is going to be a simple, inexpensive tool that can meet the core email and website needs while being chock full of so much more potential.
- Sign up for Office 365
- Get yourself a domain name and configure your Office 365 account to use it for email and public-facing site. You may need some guidance or assistance with this, but it’s a lot less than setting up your own servers and there are a LOT of resources to help – online and other.
- Build your public-facing site. This can be as simple or complex as you’d like to make it, but with the template and tools available, you can be up in minutes.
- Now, go about your business.
- In the meantime, start to look at all the other capabilities you have:
- Lync Online – Conduct your online meetings without needing another services like GoToMeeting, etc…
- SharePoint Online – Store and share your documents and other content. MUCH more later as you learn about SharePoint’s capabilities…
- Exchange Online – Primarily your email, but so much more than the basic accounts you had in the past. Manage your calendar and resources and sync them from multiple devices.
- and so, much more…
To be fair, during the session they did also mentioned DropBox, and GoToMeeting. Dropbox may still be a useful tool, depending on the devices you’re using, though Office 365 is going to fill a lot of that capability as well. GoToMeeting is fully surpassed by the Lync Online capabilities and integration that Office 365 offers.
So, if you ask me – I wouldn’t start a business without spinning up a Office 365 site as one of the first things.
Notes and References:
- The conference I was attending was the MHTA Spring Conference. They did a fantastic job. If you’re in the Minneapolis, MN area and can attend I highly recommend it. MHTA is the Minnesota High Tech Association.
- Grasshopper Virtual Phone System – This could be useful as an alternative to giving out your cell number to anyone.
- GotPrint.com – Yep, you need to have business cards and these are certainly inexpensive.
- A P.O. box – Don’t want to be using your home address, but I prefer the UPS box option that allows for a real address with no ‘P.O.’ and notification when stuff arrives.
There are a handful of things happening in the next day or so that might be interesting to folks in the SharePoint space:
- Wednesday 4/20 8:00 AM – Michael Gannotti’s Coffee Talk will be taking place. His talks include:
- Microsoft Productivity News
- Productivity Customer Onsite Experience
- Special Guests
- Tips and Tricks
- Gadget of the week
- Live Audience Q&A
- Wednesday 4/20 11:00 AM – Q&A with the SharePoint MVP Experts. Access the event by checking out the MSDN Events and Webcasts page.
- Wednesday 4/20 6:00 PM – Microsoft Store at the Mall of America. From 6:00 – 8;00 there is a Special Event for Business solutions. They’ll be covering Microsoft Signature Pro and Microsoft Office 365 – Cloud versions of Microsoft’s communications and collaboration (yep – SharePoint) products. Oh, and did I mention a 15% store discount during the event?
- Thursday 4/21 11:25 AM – SharePoint ShopTalk
Register for this week’s event.
Hope to see you there!
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:
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.