Cloud-Based Office Apps: The New Standard?

Cloud-Based Office Apps: The New Standard?

September 23, 2015

by Lorena Crowley

Part 2 of the Desktop Disruptions Series

Previously I touched on the impact that Windows 10 will have on many IT organizations. This week, as part of the desktop disruption series, we’ll be taking a look at another Microsoft offering that is shaking up enterprises – Office 365.

Whether it’s for the sake of modernization or a slight force of hand by Microsoft, adoption of Office 365 is experiencing a strong upswing. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2022, more than 60% of total office system users will be leveraging Office 365, putting the traditional, on-premise suite in the minority position. But as with any technology change, there are some advantages and disadvantages to consider, as well as some inevitable changes to anticipate.

The Upside

office 365 symbolIt’s not a surprise that most organizations are, at minimum, evaluating Office 365. For starters, Microsoft is doing its best to make Office 365 an appealing option to the enterprise. New features and functionality are being made exclusive to the cloud versions of office apps, making it a seemingly more attractive choice than on-premise offerings that have somewhat static feature enhancements.

Capabilities aside, the notion of transferring the burden of maintenance (or at least part of the burden) to Microsoft is tempting to many organizations. Less effort around management, fewer headaches around reliability and downtime and the ability to avoid migrations and updates are all quite alluring, especially in organizations where resources are stretched. Ultimately, many IT departments stand to achieve significant cost savings by moving its office systems to the cloud. And with Microsoft’s support for hybrid models, organizations can pace their transition to the complete cloud offering, or find their comfort zone when it comes to the balance between on-premise and cloud.

For the workforce, Office 365 has its own set of advantages. For starters, the look and feel of the online versions of the apps is quite familiar. This prevents any major adoptions hurdles that could arise with other cloud-based office apps. More importantly, workers have the opportunity to access their office apps from any internet connected device. Not to mention it allows for easy collaboration among teams. (Gotta love the autosave feature!) In many cases Office 365 presents an easy and low risk step toward more flexible working styles for which today’s employees are yearning.

The Downside

At a bird's-eye view, Office 365 sounds like a logical evolution for enterprises that are beginning their cloud journey. But alas, in enterprise IT there are always some potential pitfalls to face. The first challenge typically comes with implementation. As with any migration, disruptions and downtime are looming threats to productivity. While many tools are available to assist, IT faces the challenge of masking these changes as much as possible from users.

Not only are planning and preparation ahead of implementation key, so are understanding the long-term impact of shifting to Office 365 and how well IT will be able to sustain the project in the long run. Even after a successful migration, some early adopters of Office 365 have faced major issues. Customers have come to us for help because they are experiencing unexpected administrative challenges and support requests that they simply weren’t prepared to take on.

New account provisioning and basic management of users is often requires more touch points than they expected. Additionally, de-provisioning becomes more critical - having an effective approach to off-boarding and closing Office 365 accounts quickly. The bottom line is that although the move to Office 365 and its impact on users is important, there should be a proactive management strategy in place in order to maximize the benefits of a cloud based office system.

Smooth Transition and Long Term Success

While every environment is unique and there are many approaches to introducing new technology, achieving a “zero impact” migration is always a goal of IT. But what does that look like and how can the long-term adoption of these tool remain zero impact?

Let’s look at an example. One area that can largely disrupt users in particular is the mailbox migration from on-premises to Office 365. IT departments are challenged with making this initial move smooth and painless for users; as well as continue that positive experience beyond migration. Here is a snapshot of how RES customers are simplifying this transition to Office 365 mailboxes from prep to initial rollout; all the way through to day-to-day management, while keeping users productive.


How does this flow stack up to your migration plans?