Off to the Cloud

By Stuart Box

Cloud Microsoft Office 365

At Burningsuit we've been thinking of going wholly over to "The Cloud"  for some time. We run a Microsoft Small Business Server here that runs our Email on Microsoft Exchange, data storage and backup and a few other usefull things. It's been good and worked well, but Small Business Server 2008 is getting a little dated, and recently the uninterruptable power supply it's connected to has been flashing an amber light telling us it's time to renew the batteries. Bits of our organisation are already "cloud based". The business has used "Data Deposit Box" (now KineticD) for cloud based backup,  I've used Picasa, storing my Photographs in the Google Cloud and now Icloud storing my Itunes music in the Apple cloud. We'd even gone as far as to use Xero, the cloud based Accounting software. But we'd shied away from being wholly cloud based, mainly because of the effort of moving things over. Then we had a requirement to train on Microsoft Lync. We normally use WebEx as our Online Training tool of choice, but a new client was asking specifically for training using Lync, so a month or so ago I signed up for a Microsoft Office 365 trial. I was impressed. Office 365 is Microsoft's Cloud based offering for Small Businesses, it includes Microsoft Exchange, Sharepoint, Lync and Microsoft Web applications, all hosted by Microsoft (in "The Cloud" ) In a very short time I'd set up our office systems on email, and started sharing documents with Sharepoint. The thing that really got me though was Lync, I've used many Online communication systems, WebEx, GoTo Training, Adobe Connect, the list is long, but Lync worked as well as any of them. I was particularly impressed by the audio quality on VoIP, which after WebEx's telephone like audio came as a refreshing change. The final part of the jigsaw was price. I was astonished to find that Office 365 came in at only £6.50 per user per month. So, we've taken the descision and are moving wholly onto Office 365, and also trying out Microsoft Intune, for PC management. We're even taking a look at Microsoft Dynamics to replace my beloved BCM! There's going to be lots of change and learning along the way, and I hope to blog about most of it (when I remember to!). At the moment things are still settling in, I'm still finding my way around Office 365, but I really do think this is the way forward for small business. We intend to turn off our in house Server over the Easter Holiday, and will then be completely "cloud based". I'll let you know how things go. Have you moved your Business to the Cloud ? Do you think it's a good idea ? Any hint's & tips, or warnings ?

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