You may have heard a lot about “the cloud” or cloud computing, but what is it? Well, simply put, the cloud refers to the internet. In our IT charts, we use a cloud when we design diagrams about networks, to represent the Internet. The internet is out in the ether, or up in the sky, nowhere and everywhere. What the cloud does is provide you with software, data access and storage that do not require you to know where the data is stored or its configuration. It allows you to focus on what is important, running your business.
Office 365 is one of those cloud services. You can “rent” the software and server space for a fraction of the cost of hosting it at your location. You do not need to spend thousands on servers and licenses, then even more thousands on backup solutions or an IT person to run it. You merely pay a few dollars a month for each user that you have. You can also gain the advantages of additional software such as Microsoft Lync, which will enable you to instant message certain contacts who also use Lync. You can video chat and even hold virtual (online) meetings with anyone. For additional fees, you can also get Microsoft SharePoint server in the offering as well as the ability to use Lync as your phone system and voice mail; thus, eliminating in most cases, the need for a PBX.
One final note about Office 365 is that you can also “lease” Microsoft Office, thus freeing you from buying it with each of your PCs (saving you $120 or more on each computer). You simply install it on each workstation via the Office 365 portal. You will always have the most current versions of the product, for the most economical price. Furthermore, it also gives you access to Office Web Applications. It is not as robust as the desktop offering that you will download from the portal, but it is close to it. This will allow you to work on documents with the power of Microsoft Office, from anywhere in the world. In the future, the sky is no longer the limit, once you rise to the cloud.
If your business experiences these red flags, your diagnosis is clear: time to adopt the cloud!