Does Office 365 have a successful future ahead of IT?
But the future success of Office 365 might not be quite so rosy as White believes, according to Wes Miller, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft.
"It's really important to remember that businesses move slowly. Some are only now getting rid of Office 2003 and Windows XP, and are trying to figure out if they should move to Office 2013 or Office 2010. These companies have not adapted to Internet speed, so constant updates may not suit them, " Miller says
There is a way for companies to configure ProPlus to manage updates in-house and apply only software updates that have been tested and validated, but that rather defeats the purpose one of the major features of ProPlus.
Another major feature, the fact that it is linked to a user and can be run on up to five devices, may also turn out not to be a benefit to some organizations, Miller points out. "What about organizations that simply don't have more than one device per user and which don't upgrade very often? Office comes with a perpetual license, so paying for software on a subscription basis may not be in their best interest financially," he says.
But there is no doubt that the subscription model is highly attractive to certain types of organization such as FHI 360, an international nonprofit human development organization.
"Our employee base in a given country can change rapidly, perhaps from 500 people down to 100," says Michael Mazza, the organization's Head of Information Solutions and Services. "Being able to use the Office suite in a subscription edition is very important as we don't want to have to purchase permanent licenses."
Staff in many countries also use Exchange running the cloud, with the associated cloud benefits. "Our server and storage costs are less, and equipment refreshes are no longer an issue we have to deal with which is good because we don't have lots of money of capital refreshes.
Another organization that has adopted Office 365 is Veyance Technologies, a division of Goodyear. Veyance manufactures products across the United States and 11 other countries around the world. About a third of its 9,000 associates use Office 365, including email, SharePoint, Lync, and Office on the desktop, according to John Hill, the company's CIO.
He says that the capability to install up to five copies of Office is very valuable to Veyance staff, as is the capability to store documents in SharePoint online. The company plans to make use of Microsoft's SkyDrive cloud storage for document storage later in the year.
The attraction of Office 365
But the main attraction of Office 365 to Hill is that the cloud model suits the company's global geographical spread. It has already embraced the cloud with Workday for human capital management, Salesforce.com for sales automation, Interactive Intelligence for call center functionality in the cloud, and ServiceNow for IT services in the cloud. "It's clear to me that the cloud strategy lets us move faster and cut costs effectively," he says.
Directions on Microsoft's Miller says he believes that the fact that companies like Veyance are adopting Office 365 shows that the momentum behind Office 365 is finally starting to build.
"Like with Windows 8, with Office 365 Microsoft is making a big long-term bet.," Miller says. "Small companies have begun to adopt Office 365 in a significant way and now I think you'll see it beginning to attract mid-sized and larger ones. I think we are a sea change of how people view utility computing,"
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