A few weeks ago I visited a Gartner conference on Microsoft Office 365. We were considering trying it out until the notes below were passed around. We’re going to wait a while to see how all this shakes out. For SMBs this is still a viable alternative to on-site email servers. The enterprise level businesses may have more to consider.
The presentation was done by Gartner experts who had extensive experience in advising and implementing this solution in the field to a wide array of clients.
I. General Points
a. Don’t move completely to the new suite as it isn’t “fully baked”
b. Businesses must base the decision based on the combination of existing functionality and risk tolerance
c. The trend is that everyone, eventually, will have to move to a cloud offering at some point for parts of the traditional office suite
II. Why do businesses move to Office 365?
a. Success with other cloud initiatives
b. Change from a CAPEX to OPEX model
c. Microsoft is applying pressure and/or offering incentives
III. What’s good about Office 365?
a. More SharePoint features
b. Cross-suite social experiences (Users can be grouped or alerted to each other via Yammer as an example)
c. Using the iPad to edit documents
d. Per-user licensing (10 devices per user in the cloud, 1 per user on Premises using Office 2013)
e. Incentives- 28% of Gartner clients were offered incentives to migrate
IV. Office 365 Suite Parts
a. 365 Pro Plus- Includes all parts of the suite
b. Exchange Online- Very close to the on-prem Exchange Server experience
c. Yammer- Cloud only social network
d. SharePoint Online- Good for only the most basic of sites
e. Lync Online- Very different than the on-prem version. Very low implantation so far
V. What’s Missing from Office 365? – This was an admitted “glass-half-empty” presentation
a. Gartner clients surveyed revealed that only half to 68% of the “required features” for migrating to Office 365 were included in the offering.
b. MANAGEMENT FEATURES MISSING
i. Change management logging (only 1 month allowed)
ii. Realtime Threshold Alerts
iii. Service Interface Resiliency (no backup way to manage the services if the primary goes down)
c. SECURITY FEATURES MISSING
i. Proactive auditing
ii. Intrusion prevention (there is no way to audit cloud administrators who could or did make changes to the environment or access company data)
d. STORAGE FEATURES MISSING
i. Data eradication and sanitation. MS is supposed to be compliant with the DoD 5220-22M and NIST SP800-88 initiatives, but there is no documentation proving that is the case.
ii. Specific location of datacenters
iii. Documentation of infrastructure services
iv. Ability to choose datacenter locations. You will be pinned to the nearest datacenter because of the bandwidth needed to migrate
e. NETWORK FEATURES MISSING
i. Realtime performance monitoring
ii. Published topologies
iii. WAN Accelerators are illegal. Example: During a service call if a WAN accelerator or other network device is sitting in the data path, MS will not troubleshoot until the hardware is removed. This includes virtual network hardware. It’s the same situation that Comcast uses with its home users, if they are using their own router, troubleshooting ends until the router is removed.
f. BILLING FEATURES MISSING
i. Granular usage reporting
ii. Visibility of cost versus usage
iii. Cost calculators
iv. Variable contract terms
v. Options to tune charges based on usage
vi. Timely notification of new features. Features have been turned on without notification which causes more phone calls to the local helpdesk
vii. Defined RPO, RTO in case of outage/data loss
viii. MS defines what an outage is. For example, if only OWA can access email then no real outage exists although the Outlook client doesn’t function.
ix. Escalation procedures if SLA is not met
x. SLA to protect against data loss/theft/service integrity
xi. Documentation for third party app integration
a. WAN optimization used at customers’ risk
b. Licensing is complex and brittle
c. Clients pre-pay for entire suite and only use Exchange
d. AD, SSO is the leading reported problem among customers (25%)
e. Email Migration problems occur in 19% of clients
f. No defined and guaranteed exit strategy
VII. What is everyone else doing?
a. Financial and healthcare institutions are avoiding the cloud
b. 75% of Gartner clients are investigating SaaS for email only
c. Yammer is a popular feature so far
d. Lync Online is a very rare add-on
e. 75% of Office 365 customers just use the Exchange portion of the suite, 32% use the document sharing
a. Trust the vendor
b. Implement only part of the suite that is needed
c. Run pilots
d. Negotiate with Microsoft:
i. Only buy what is needed
ii. Price guarantee
iii. Segment the user base – Don’t put all the users in the cloud
iv. Create migration and exit plans
v. Buy Premier Support – This seems to be the only way to get enough high level support during outage times.