Decision Maker

6 Reasons Office 365 Might Not Suit Your Shop

Every company has different needs. While Office 365 may be a perfect fit for the shop across the street, it may not be right for your business.

If all the talk about cloud services has you confused, one reason might be because they're not for you. Or, more specifically, certain cloud services might not fit into your existing IT services portfolio.

One such cloud service is Office 365. At its core, Office 365 offers a means to outsource your business's e-mail, document hosting and collaboration services to an external provider. For the right business, Office 365 is a godsend. Microsoft Exchange, Lync and SharePoint can be insidiously complex to install and manage: Complex because of their many moving parts, and insidious because "managing them" and "managing them correctly" can be two very different activities.

Cloud Checklist
My company, Concentrated Technology, made the jump last year to Office 365. The solution fits our needs perfectly. But the pieces of Office 365 that work for us might actually complicate the way you do business. If you're considering Office 365, here are six reasons it might not be a good fit.

  1. You already have a significant investment in Exchange Server and Office. The variety of Office 365 plans are designed to service the micro- business to the enterprise, but many in the latter category might already have invested -- in hardware, software, human resources and experience -- in its on-premises alternatives. Backing out those sunk costs could significantly unbalance your ROI.

  2. Your users work in a single location. From its position in the cloud, Office 365 intends to offer equal services to anyone, anywhere. But if everyone on your LAN uses those services on the network, migrating to a cloud-based service might not gain you much.

  3. You don't anticipate using the "other" Office 365 services, or already have equivalent on-premises solutions. The collaboration needs of many companies are fulfilled by the services built into Microsoft Exchange: e-mail, calendaring, task lists and so on. That said, Exchange is but one of the many different services that comprise the Office 365 portfolio. Shifting Exchange to an externally hosted model might meet your ROI goals -- or, without the added benefits of the other Office 365 services, it might not.

    Notable in this decision-making process is SharePoint. Evolving your document-management strategy from traditional file shares to SharePoint requires a wholesale evolution in corporate culture. If you (or, more importantly, your users) aren't ready for that change, you likely won't recognize the benefits your ROI model demands.

  4. You suffer limitations in storing business data off-site. These limitations can be regulatory in nature, but they can also be cultural. Some businesses are simply unwilling to risk potential data exposure on systems they don't control. Cloud solutions are by nature uncontrolled, which makes their use unacceptable when risks can't be balanced with benefits.

  5. Your LAN-to-Internet connection can't be made sufficient. While each of the services built into Office 365 is designed for the kinds of network performance one might expect over Internet connections, using those services still requires network throughput. An already- congested Internet connection can only get exacerbated when everything moves off-site.

  6. Your revenue model isn't annuity-payment-compatible. One of cloud computing's basic tenets centers on streamlining payments into regular, monthly costs in place of larger and irregular capital purchases. Unfortunately, that kind of regular expense just doesn't work well for every business.

There are many other reasons why Office 365 might not be a good move for your business. While Office 365 might not suit every type of organization, for many others it offers a respectable suite of services to offload a few of IT's more complex tasks.

More on Office 365 from Don Jones:

About the Author

Don Jones is a 12-year industry veteran, author of more than 45 technology books and an in-demand speaker at industry events worldwide. His broad technological background, combined with his years of managerial-level business experience, make him a sought-after consultant by companies that want to better align their technology resources to their business direction. Jones is a contributor to TechNet Magazine and Redmond, and writes a blog at ConcentratedTech.com.

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