Bath & Bristol Cloud Computing – Hosted Office Vs Office365

One of the questions we get asked quite frequently is what are the differences between the Cloud Heroes Hosted Office service and Microsoft’s own offering – Office365?

Here are some of the key issues we have discovered and what you need to know about them. I accept there is bound to be a degree of bias BUT, we believe everything herein can be substantiated and therefore if nothing else, it will provide a basis for you to commence your evaluation of how to move to the cloud.

One of the key differences is in the very ethos of what the products do, how they are delivered and how they are supported – and very importantly, how reliable they are.

Office365 is aimed at the mass-market and we all know a one size fits all may look good on some and ridiculous on others. Yes it fits the cloud model of self-service – you can buy and enable Office365 online and if you are tech-savvy, get yourself up and running without the need for human intervention from Microsoft. However, you’d better be prepared for some hard work if you are moving your multi-user business environment to Office365.  And be prepared to spend a lot of money on buying new servers to fully and properly support the implementation, not to mention the recruitment of a very capable Systems Administrator!

You see I’ll admit it: I have a problem with this whole self-service approach. Sure there are some people who have the knowledge, time and tenacity to make this stuff work well. But even for those types, is that what they should really be doing with their time? Surely their job (by-and-large) will be to do other business related activities to make their company some money. What’s the solution then? Easy – go and hire an IT services company to do it for you! Oh yes, that involves spending yet more of your hard earned cash…

Are these people serious? You’ve just decided to move some of your IT to the cloud – I say some as Office365 is not going to provide a solution to all your needs and some may say it’s not even ‘proper cloud’ – presumably to reduce capital costs and move to an environment where you no longer need to pay your expensive monthly IT service premium, only to be told you need more servers and a techie to put it all in and support it.  No wonder Microsoft practically has to give it away. By the time you’ve finished paying for that lot you’ll be lucky to still be in business, right? It’s a great model for IT services companies but not a great model for the average SME.  Look at the total cost of ownership and you may well find that you saved nothing and indeed, have just spent a whole lot more!

The other thing sadly missing from their marketing bumph is that it doesn’t exactly do what the label on the tin would have you believe. Here’s just a sample of the short-comings our support team have come across when evaluating Office365 and working with customers who have already started using it:

  1. It doesn’t work all the time. The service seems to suffer from more than its fair share of outages. And like most of the ‘big-boys’ offerings, when they have a crisis they usually have a big one! Never-say-never but outages on our network are an extremely rare event and we respond much more quickly than you could ever imagine if things do not work perfectly.
  2. Office365 only provides a limited set of cloud services. It still relies heavily on local infrastructure in many cases and doesn’t truly give the freedom to work anywhere, at any time and on any device. Cloud Heroes is a true cloud based service. You can access it from a browser to a full-blown Windows-style desktop experience on any device.
  3. The Office365 telephony solution (Lync online) does not support IP phones. This came a shock to me and if you know different, I’d love to hear from you but this is what we’ve found. Kind of defeats the object. Our hosted telecoms service is a commercial-grade, high-specification, feature-rich system.  Affordable, robust and flexible.
  4. Microsoft don’t provide the inbound and outbound call provision to work with Lync so you are going to have to go find yourself a carrier to provide you with voice services – another cost, another cog in the wheel, another invoicing and support point. All of our service is supplied, installed and supported by us.
  5. To really be effective, you require an experienced Systems Administrator to install and run Office365 for your business.  I’ve already mentioned this but it is such a key issue you simply can’t ignore it. Cloud Heroes’ Hosted Office will be installed for you and handed over so you can start using it productively from the first second. If you have used a PC, Windows and MS office before, you know everything you need to know to use it well.
  6. It’s a confusing product to buy if you don’t really know what you are doing. Say no more. Dive in at your peril! Our experience is simple to understand and simple to use.
  7. Operating system and platform. Office365 requires Windows 7 and above for full functionality. Mac OSX is supported on certain plans. Cloud Heroes’ Hosted Office provides FULL Office functionality on just about any platform – any Windows PC, Mac, Android, IOS etc. and it always looks and feels exactly the same; that familiar Windows-style, file navigation, application look & feel…
  8. As mentioned, Office365 is only a portion of a cloud solution for most businesses. Cloud Heroes deliver a complete solution – we can do everything from the broadband lines, through to web hosting, applications, on-site support, if/where required, and post implementation Help Desk service geared to the business market from our fantastic, UK based support team.
  9. Office 365 software has a reduced feature set. Office can be installed on local machines, but then the solution is not truly cloud based. Cloud Heroes can provide a complete office in the cloud with full Microsoft Office functionality.
  10.  Who is going to listen to you? Who will design, consult install and support all from a single source? Microsoft? I think not. Cloud Heroes do and it’s one of our key differentiators. We run our own IP network, our own (multiple) data centre facilities, our own servers and services, our own broadband products… If it goes wrong, it really is our fault so we work very hard to ensure that doesn’t happen. If you have an issue, one phone call will fix it. With MS Office365, you will be working with a minimum of two suppliers and possibly more. Who do you call when it goes wrong?

If you’d like a free, no-obligation trial, please contact us and we’ll be happy to discuss your requirements.

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