Just a quick update, after using and getting to know Office 365 over the last week, I have discovered the the site wide navigation is not always consistant. Upon entering some parts of the site the top level navigation does not exist and from a users perspective this can be very frustrating. Yes, the browser navigation buttons are available but often with a web application they can have unexpected results or not even function at all. Not a major issue at this stage, but something to bear in mind.
In an article by Michael Otey, the top 10 features of the service are suggested to be as follows;
- Team Sites
- Excel Web App
- Work Web App
- Outlook Web App
- OneNote Web App
- PowerPoint Web App
- Web desing app
- Lync 2010
- High availability
- Browser based access
Today I read a very good article about how cloud computing can save an organisation a large amount of money. Money is saved by not hosting services on your own site, for example an Exchange Server, and instead hosting it in the cloud.
I also read another article which has the opinion that cloud computing can be more expensive, depending on the type of your organisation. The writer suggests that although the cost of cloud computing is low compared to standalone software, this cost is ongoing rather than a one off payment. On the otherhand although the cost is ongoing you will always have the latest version of available applications, whereas new licences would be required for non cloud computing environments. Some businesses may not require to have the latest version of applications should the version they have perform all the functions they require.
I think that the majority of organisations that could benefit from cloud computing would be large enterprises rather than small businesses. Because small businesses tend to have fewer computers and do not always require to have the latest version of applications, it is not neccessary to subscribe to a cloud service. On the otherhand if they did it would free up IT resources for other work. Larger organisations may be more interested as it would allow more resources to work on other projects rather than maintaining on site equipment that could be done by outsourcing.
In an article on nathanneil.com there are some valid points about how the system works should any circumstances change. The first being what happens if the organisation wishes to leave the Office 365 service for something else. How will users be able to keep their data, emails and even retrtact any domain name they have linked to the service.
Another potential problem that could occur is when an employee leaves. What happens to their account (emails & data)? The article suggests that the organisation would be required to continue paying the subscription for this employee to keep the data secure and available.
A third point to note is that Microsoft say Office 365 can encrypt your emails, which is essential if you are in the medical or legal fields, but it will only work if you buy extra equipment and have an IT professional that is trained and experienced in connecting the rights management system to Office 365.
A fourth point to note is that although Microsoft offers a 99.9% uptime, this is only scheduled uptime. This means that Microsoft could give advance warning of any scheduled downtime. This time would not be included in the guarantee. The message here is that the organisation would not have any control over any downtime, and this ultimately could cause disruption to its staff and or students. I posted a question about this to the Office 365 community, here is the link: http://community.office365.com/en-us/f/148/p/5707/22878.aspx#22878.
There is a great feature made possible using SharePoint called co-authoring. Co-authoring will allow a team of people working together to work on a document simultaneously. Each user can see who is currently editing and which part of the document they are working on in real time. This feature will save the headache of emailing back and forth a document and attempting to draw together the most recent information.