Microsoft’s Office 365 (O365) continues to draw more organizations to the benefits of the cloud. O365 is Microsoft’s fastest-growing commercial product ever, and the cloud software suite was a key driver in the 147 percent jump year over year in Microsoft’s commercial cloud business revenue during its fiscal fourth quarter of 2014.
But while millions of licenses have been sold, not all have been deployed. Some organizations might be slow to take advantage of the O365 licenses they purchased, whether because it’s their first attempt at a cloud implementation, because IT is mired in maintaining the current infrastructure, or as is often the case, because they didn’t invest enough time in planning.
Planning how to deploy and secure O365 is a frequently overlooked topic. Here’s where to start: Take stock of your current IT expertise and resources, and identify any limitations that might hinder rollout of your new investment. There are a number of options available to help make the move to the cloud, so knowing where your organization stands early on will help you choose the one that gets you up and running on O365 faster.
Here are three questions to ask yourself to determine the best approach for your move to O365.
Do you have a plan for your purchase of O365?
While cloud computing is old hat for many businesses, others are still making their inaugural voyage into the cloud through O365. No matter where you are on the cloud adoption spectrum, it’s important to first understand your organization’s cloud philosophy and address any concerns or questions others in the company have about O365 prior to purchasing.
If you already use 50 applications in the cloud, you likely have a well-oiled process in place, and the transition to O365 may be smooth. However, if O365 is one of the first applications you’re moving to the cloud, make sure to conduct a thorough discovery and planning process to ensure you not only have the resources to acquire O365, but to deploy, secure, and maintain it as well.
Who will support deployment?
One of the major factors that determines the process for a move to O365 is your IT team. Many organizations’ IT administrators are overburdened with the maintenance of current hardware and software, and have little time to think about improvements and upgrades. So the cost, timing, and method of deployment depend on whether your IT team is in charge or if you seek out a third party to manage implementation.
You could hire new staff or train existing staff to help with the deployment. But keep in mind the long-term costs of keeping that expertise in house once the project is complete.
If O365 expertise isn’t a core competency you need in the long-term, consider handing off the reins of O365 deployment to an outside professional that would allow you to focus on projects that will have a greater impact on your business. This option gives your IT team less to manage so they can focus on in-house hardware and software, all while keeping your organization up to date on new technology and upgrades.
What are the costs of maintenance?
In addition to considering available resources to deploy O365, your planning should answer key questions about how it will be managed once it’s live: Do you have the budget to invest in long-term maintenance? Is that how you can best leverage IT resources?
In some cases, the answers will point you toward full control of O365, all managed in house. But other organizations might need an outside solution to handle maintenance, which might be too much for IT to manage, or might draw resources away from other more important and lucrative projects.
Every organization is different and working with an agnostic provider can help you answer some of these questions and narrow the options to determine the best course for your organization’s goals.
It’s unlikely the growth of O365 will slow anytime soon. If you’re one of the many turning to the benefits of the cloud, be sure to plan beyond the purchase of O365 to gain a better sense of when it will be deployed and how it will be maintained over time. Work with SHI to explore the many options available for purchasing, deploying, securing, and managing O365 to ensure the best return on investment for your move to the cloud.