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Office 365–Productivity Delivered as a Cloud Service
Microsoft made a big leap into the cloud with its Office 365 service, answering to the increasing demand for enterprise-level online productivity services that are becoming a necessity for organizations with offices in multiple locations. With Office as an established brand among enterprise users and a progressive rate of cloud adoption, Microsoft can potentially tap deeper into the enterprise market with its Office 365 offering.
Microsoft’s Office 365 is a suite of cloud-based business productivity services that unifies the software giant’s existing online application offerings including Microsoft Office web apps, SharePoint Online, Lync, and Exchange Online. This subscription based service integrates cloud-based syncing and collaboration and allows users to access their productivity apps from anywhere in the world and from a variety of devices, including iPhones, Blackberry and Windows Phone. The guaranteed uptime for Office 365 is 99.9%. Microsoft has prepared flexible pricing packages for Office 365 in order to accommodate different budgets and fit the needs of businesses of all size, from small startups to large enterprises.
Having a feature-rich solution such as Office 2010 delivered as a cloud service can matter a great deal for businesses looking to increase productivity and trim costs at the same time. Enterprises can potentially save in server and software deployment while receiving an array of features that Microsoft offers. Additional benefit is that all the updates and security fixes are done by Microsoft, ensuring that every employee is working on the latest version of the app and removing the security worries from the equation.
Office 365 will directly compete with Google Apps targeting both SMB and enterprise market. Microsoft’s competitive advantage lies in the fact that most business users have already been introduced to Micrsoft’s suite of web-based services. The flexible pricing is also an advantage, as it will allow users to use the suite based on their specific needs and budgets.
Office 365 comes in two versions. The first one is Office 365 for Small Businesses designed for companies with up to 25 employees. For this pre-built package, Microsoft will charge $6 per user per month. For larger companies, Microsoft designed Office 365 for Enterprises with prices starting as low as $2 per user per month and ranging up to $27 per user per month depending on the features the company chooses to use. The enterprise model can be customized to the needs of a company and it includes Office Proffesional Plus, internal social network, voicemail, instant messaging, etc, and a single sign-on to access all these services.
The limited beta version of Office 365 is currently available in 13 countries and it will be generally available worldwide sometime next year. Later in 2011, Office 365 will add Microsoft Dynamics CRM to its suite of cloud-based apps. To learn more, visit Office 365.