Posts tagged Guarantee

“UK authorities are currently investigating Microsoft’s claims that its 99.9 percent cloud uptime is in fact true, after a series of outages left Office 365 users without email or communications.

The Advertising Standards Agency is investigating a complaint over “marketing communication on Microsoft’s website” specifically in regards to the uptime claims the company makes in its advertising material.” – ZDNET (http://lncn.eu/wxy6)

After only a few months of going live, Microsoft have already failed at meeting their 99.9% up-time guarantee, personally this comes as no surprise considering that BPOS was notorious for it’s downtime. Microsoft have already paid out refunds to all the companies that were affected by the outages, so they are keeping their promises concerning down time refunds but will Microsoft improve their actual up time or remove the advertisement?

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Microsoft is offering a financial uptime guarantee, whereby if the guarantee is broken the organisation can claim money from Microsoft. The amount this is will vary depending on the total outage time, but upto a maximum 100% or the service fees paid. This guarantee covers any downtime whether it be during the week, in the evening or even at night. A payout will be made once the uptime drops below 99.9%. The fact that the guarantee covers ‘all time’ rather than just business days is essential for the service running within an educational environment. The service would need to be open for weekends and evenings to ensure students can access learning materials at any time.

Microsoft Office 365 is made up of several components:

  • Microsoft Exchange provides email, calendar and contact lists.
  • Microsoft Office Plus allows Windows PC’s to run Office applications locally or from the cloud.
  • Microsoft SharePoint allows documents, spreadsheets and presentations to be shared.
  • Microsoft Lync Online allows instant messaging and online meetings.

Microsoft are to offer an edition of Office 365 for educational institutions, it will include everything available in Office 365 for enterprises and in addition will be specifically tailored to meet the needs of educators, students and education partners. For students the service will be free, but there will be a charge for educators and staff if they opt for the use of SharePoint Online and Lync Online (this is free for students). Pricing for this version, as quoted by Mary Jo Foley in an article published on ZDNet (http://www.zdnet.com/blog/microsoft/microsoft-details-packaging-pricing-for-office-365-for-education/8413) will be in the region of £7 to £9 per month per user, depending on the exact services opted for. There could also be a charge for students depending on services opted for, this will be in the region on £1 per month per user. This additional charge will be in force should Office Professional Plus be in use.

Office 365 for Education will include Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Lync Online, Office Web Apps, support for My Sites and site search capabilities.

This functionality would allow students participating in group projects to work together on documents in real time, rather than working on their own piece and then tying it all together at the end. This method often does not work as there is no good flow to the document.

Office 365 also allows group members to participate in a group chat, similar to that of Window Live Messenger,  to discuss the work being undertaken.

Users will also be able to take advantage of social networking features such as, ‘Like’ and ‘Comment’ to rate documents and other listings, which will help both staff and students recognise good learning materials. This over time will improve the quality of learning materials available on the site.

Students will also have access to Office Web Apps (OWA) for viewing, sharing and light editing of documents.

Microsoft is offering a 99.9% uptime guarantee inline with this service. That means that Office 365 should only be unavailable for 8.76 hours in any given year! This guarentee is also backed financially, whereby a percentage (maximum of 100%) of the subscriptions fee is refunded to the client should this target not be met.

While Office 365 components, like Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS), offer a subset of the functionality of their on premise versions, they share the same code base and user interfaces, so they are familiar to end users.

In this manner, organisations can have hybrid cloud/on premise deployments of Microsoft collaboration, productivity and communications, depending on their preferences and requirements.

Before Office 365 is implemented, these points should be considered:

  • Learn about the basic features and potential benefits of Microsoft Office 365 and how it lines up against the rest of the cloud-based application market.
  • Find out how Microsoft plans to evolve Office 365, an increasingly important piece of its cloud strategy.
  • Discover the realities and potential limitations of Office 365 and how IT professionals can best prepare for the greatest possible business outcome.

Office 365 is expected to be released in June 2011.