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Our Office 365 Experience: Part 1, The Decision

My company, Concentrated Technology, recently made the leap from Google Apps to Office 365. We mainly work with Microsoft products and we figured "what the heck." In addition, we were really dissatisfied with Google Docs. The inability to create a true folder hierarchy, the difficulty of sharing sets of documents with external contractors...it was just a bit much. We all use phones that are Exchange Server-compatible, so we wanted to get some of the advantages of Exchange. While Google emulates Exchange pretty well, it doesn't have quite the same calendar sharing and other features that make Exchange great.

Deciding on an Office 365 plan was the toughest decision. The various "P" and "E" plans all offer different features. We initially leaned toward the P1 plan, but after reviewing its limitations, we worried that it might not be enough for us. Keep in mind that you can't ever migrate from a "P" plan to the larger "E" plans, or vice-versa, so if the biggest "P" plan might not suit you forever, then you need to up the ante and go "E."

The fine print was also a bit troubling. The "P" plans, for example, have a hardcoded e-mail limit of 500 recipients per day. Per day. If you've got a dozen users, that's actually not very many outgoing recipients -- just about 40 recipients per person, per day, which is something we felt we could easily exceed. The "E" plans have a much larger limit. This is actually the most troubling thing about Office 365; I understand why Microsoft does it (to help prevent O365 from becoming a spam source), but there has to be a better way to achieve the goal than an across-the-board cap.

1/19 UPDATE: I was contacted by a Microsoft spokesperson today who said this limit has been lifted; the number of recipients is no longer capped at 500.

A final caveat: Because two company's two owners are journalists, we'd both been involved in the O365 beta, as well as in a "P" plan trial. That meant the accounts we'd created for those purposes couldn't be used for our new, permanent account. So instead of getting "concentratedtech.onmicrosoft.com" as our account base name, we had to pick something else. Of course, once we migrated, nobody would see that base name because we'd use our own domain name, but it's something to be aware of: If you do a trial, either use a totally fake name, or use the name you plan to proceed with and stick with it.

Up next: The Migration

In case you missed it:

Posted by Don Jones on 01/18/2012 at 1:14 PM


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Reader Comments:

Mon, Mar 12, 2012 todo Missouri

Nice feedback Tom, we are piloting starting tomorrow. We have our contractors, which are users that are constantly being added and termed created under the E1 plan. Least costly. We have to obtain all the *certs for all the subdomains that have to be created, and etc. This is the fun part to me. The building. I know there are several scripts that have to be ran. Really eager to see the environment once it has been stood up. Cya

Fri, Feb 24, 2012 Tom

Previously we were using BPOS and now use Office 365 - honestly there really isn't anything complicated about it (unless you need some customization and that's where PowerShell come in). What's great is that the flexibility is there if you need some customization/finer control. We needed Exchange, Sharepoint, Live Meeting (now Lync) and instant messaging (also now Lync), and so opted for the E1 plan. At $10/month per user it's fine and does everything we need. I must say though that SharePoint makes all the world of difference for us, and the integration (contact lists, calendering etc) with Outlook is fantastic. It's well worth taking the time to understand what SP can really do.

Thu, Jan 19, 2012 Micheal

Sounds exceptionally complicated in only a way that microsoft is good at. Tried looking at the plans and gave up. Google Apps is nice and simple at just $50 per user. No limits on emails delivery either, and 25gb mailboxes. I personally find the folder structures quite adequate, but then each to their own. I'm keen to see how your migration went.

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