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.
From a review written by Mary Branscombe for PC Pro, it is suggested that there are a few features missing from the beta version of Office 365. It is not yet clear when or if the features discussed will be implemented.
The first point Mary discusses is the lack of tools available for partners to manage Office 365 for customers. It is said that these tools will become available at some point, possibly once the service goes live to the public. At the moment these tools are said to be missing due to the fact Microsoft are still working on privacy concerns. At this stage I cannot see this being an issue for the implementation of the service within the University.
Another issue Mary discusses is that voice has not been fully integrated with the online service. It is not yet possible to give out one telephone number for all your possible locations; desktop, deskphone or mobile. Currently Lync offers voice and video conversations, but only through a desktop client, meaning that you cannot take advantage of this feature should you be on the move.
Another potential problem is the lack of federation of public IM services. Lync will only let you connect with Windows Live users, and not Google, AOL or Yahoo.
Lync Online does not have many management tools, although you can control domain federation to allows connections with partnering companies, using blacklists or whitlists. However, currently in the beta version you require a Lync Online hosting provider to on-premise Lync servers to make this function work. This is expected to be fixed before the service goes live to the public later this year.
Office Web Apps
Office Web Apps is a great way for anyone to access a document from almost any device at anytime. However Office Web Apps may not be able to fully replace the software version, as they are only light in their functionality. This means that Office Web Apps will not have the same feature rich facilities that users are familiar with. This may or may not be a problem for some users. The system can be combined with the software version to provide a more complete package.
It is important to note that there may be limitations depending on the web browser you use or your clients use. Microsoft notes that it [Office 365] is fully supported by Microsoft Internet Explorer (7.x or higher) and partially supported by Mozilla Firefox (3.x or higher) and Apple Safari (3.x or higher). Other web browsers may have functionality issues.
This link details known issues with specific web browsers: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc263526.aspx
It should be noted that Windows XP Home and XP Media Center don’t support federated identity for authentication across firms’ IT infrastructure or partner IT systems using single sign-on (SSO).
Office 365 Plans
General feature limitations could occur as Office 365 has different plan levels, at different pricing levels. Potentially this means that depending on the budget the organisation has for the system, all the desired features may not be available.
Inactivity Periods are a good method to detect when a user’s activity stops and to then log them out of the system for security of personal data etc. Office 365 does not have this feature, and could potentailly leave data at risk of unauthorised modification or theft. Ultimately it’s the user’s responsibilty to protect their data either by logging out of the system when they move away from the PC or by locking the PC. Inactivity Periods are an extra layer of security, but not essential if users act responsibly.