Microsoft applications are tools – useful ones at that – for you to get work done, but are not part of your added value. In that case, it makes sense to minimize IT time and effort on MS Office, SharePoint, Exchange, and Lync.
Outsourcing their hosting and maintenance to a competent third party offering cloud-based services can reduce costs too. And who better to support a Microsoft application in the cloud than Microsoft itself?
The Microsoft solution, Office 365, is essentially the cloud-based version of the server software you’ve been using up until now. Customers have access to email (Exchange), intranet (SharePoint) and unified communications (Lync). They also have either web-based Office apps (Excel, Word, PowerPoint, etc.) or the same Office apps installed directly on PCs.
Moving from local license-based to cloud-based subscription operations works well when basic rules are followed.
- Pick your subscription level - The entry level subscription is aimed at small businesses with 25 users or less. It does not include higher level enterprise and compliance features such as premium journaling, transport rules, e-discovery, data loss prevention, and in-place hold and litigation hold. If your distribution company is still small and growing, but you need these features, then opt for a mid-size business plan.
- Migrate email accounts and data - Take a moment to think about how your distribution company uses email. There is a good chance that it serves as a support for one or more business processes. Your current Exchange server implementation may process emails in a particular way that must be reproduced in the cloud installation.
- Migrate documents and websites - You will need to decide if all or just some of your files should move to the cloud. You can define rules about which types of files and directories are to be moved. The Microsoft Data Transport Engine can then help organize the file and folder migration to Office 365.
- Hybrid management possibilities - Migration paths for different Office applications include cutover, staged migration, and hybrid deployment. Hybrid configurations combine on-premise and cloud-based users. They allow you to migrate specified data in the cloud, while still supporting internal configurations, for example, to be able to guarantee compliance.
- Third-party software - There may be things you need, which Office 365 alone does not provide. Third-party solutions can round out the cloud configuration to give you what you want. Specific Active Directory configurations for user access management is one example. Others include advanced threat protection and access activity monitoring. Patching, upgrades and data backup and recovery are managed solely by Microsoft unless you opt for a third-party backup solution.
Working with a competent service provider may be the best way to ensure a smooth migration from on-premise server configurations to cloud-based Office 365. Once in the cloud, you can look forward to savings on license fees, internal maintenance and support, and the possibility to free up your IT resources for other tasks.
What other cloud-based business applications do you favor? Give us your opinion about how the cloud should be helping Los Angeles distributors do better business in the Comments box below.
And to follow-through on the tips introduced in this short article, be sure to download your free guide, How COOs at Los Angeles Distributors and Manufacturers Get More Done: A Guide to Productivity, Data, Staffing, Delegation, and Making It Home for Dinner Most Nights.