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Office 365: Convergence in the cloud

Companies looking to host Exchange might want to look at Office 365, a bundle that includes Exchange, SharePoint and Lync Online.

If it’s important to find a hosting provider that also specializes in software, you might want to look at Microsoft’s prevailing Office 365. Segmented for two major product lines -- one for small businesses and one for enterprises, Office 365 has a single per-user cost for traditional email via Exchange Server and Outlook. The product also includes document collaboration via SharePoint.

But Office 365’s strength is that it seamlessly integrates these technologies -- email and collaboration -- with unified communications. Office 365’s presence features allows a team to see who is available at a specific time and schedule meetings using video, real-time document editing and screen sharing. Office 2010 improvements are central to consolidating these features into one seamless package. 

In addition to the user experience, Office 365 gives administrators more cohesive control over previously segmented and niche technologies -- Exchange Server, SharePoint and Unified Communications (now in the form of Microsoft Lync). Admins can manage Office 365 via the Web; the enterprise version allows for greater control than the small business version.

Companies looking to offload the administrative complexity and risk of failure to someone else might want to seriously consider Office 365. Eliminating the burden of responsibility for backups, messaging security and some elements of regulatory compliance can be a great relief to an already overworked IT administrator.

Greg Shields,
MVP, is a partner and principal technologist with Concentrated Technology. An IT industry analyst, author, speaker and trainer, you can find Greg at

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