I'm not comfortable personally with using the word "cloud" as a means of describing online IT resources. Microsoft refers to its hosted Exchange solution as "cloud services" and that term may fit a bit better. But its official offerings are coming under the heading "Microsoft Online Services" and its main bundled suite is called the Microsoft BPOS (Business Productivity Online Standard Suite). My first nod of approval goes to the fact that BPOS doesn't use the oft-used new buzzword "cloud" in its title. Granted, that isn't a technical commendation, just a nod. But BPOS impresses in not only its pricing (the starting price is $10 per user per month) but in the software cornucopia the suite provides.
A company may believe that part of its core competency (factors that are central to the way a business works) is communication and collaboration, which is reasonably true. However, the manner in which communication and collaboration take place may not necessarily require an in-house solution. Be it Exchange, SharePoint, or Communications Server, if there are ways to provide the communication and collaboration aspects to your users -- in a sense, to meet your core competency -- without wasting resources on that in-house solution, it makes sense to consider those alternatives.
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So let's take a look.
Microsoft Cloud Services
Microsoft provides the on-premises software your company needs, and we all certainly have many of those (such as Exchange and SharePoint) deployed. But Microsoft's cloud services could be a better deployment approach: