Choosing to leverage the cloud and move to Office 365 Exchange for small businesses can be one of the best decisions your organization ever makes.  Office 365 is so much more than email.  It is freedom.  It is reliability of service.  It is the freedom to move between platforms.  And most of all it is full exchange!

Many prospective new Office 365 users are simply not aware that with the service comes a leveraged piece of Microsoft's .cloud datacenter.  And full exchange configurability via powershell.  That virtualized server in Microsoft's cloud is dedicated to your organization.  So there are no cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all levels of service across your organization.  No, you receive the freedom to choose who sees what, whther you want a public calendar shared between employees, whether you want to use conference rooms, distribution groups, security groups, shared mailboxes, and the list goes on.  And for the price, this kind of power really does come on the cheap.  Take advantage of these services!

A big pitfall I see with choosing how to approach Office 365 is this:  Many SMBs opt to go through a third party reseller of Office 365 cloud services.  Some of these providers severely scale down the functionality of the service.  I have seen Office 365 resold in a form that resembles a POP email account.  There was no configurability, there was no freedom, no shared calendars, distribution groups, etc.  The only benefit I saw to the user was the ability to sync contacts between Outlook and the mobile device.  And to make matters worse, the service ran far and above the base price of Office 365 when purchased directly from Microsoft.  The provider will remain nameless.

Choosing the right VAR to manage your migration is critical.  You want an organization with experience, professionalism, and attention to detail.  I say this – if your provider can't make the switch happen between the time you shut your doors on Friday, and the time you open them Monday, move along.  Make sure your VAR provides you with a timeline for your transition – a plan of action.

Last of all, make sure your VAR is planning on sticking around for the long-haul.  Moving to exchange means that there will be questions.  You will need a resource to assist you in configuring the new service day to day.  Office 365, like any exchange product is not a one-size-fits-all solution.  It needs to be mended and tailored to the needs of the organization.  This process takes time; and unless you are technically savvy, you will want someone on your side who is familiar with powershell script configuration of exchange.

Feel out a prospective VAR.  Make sure they are the right fit for oyour organization.  Align your business goals with theirs.

TRA Consulting is in the business of helping our clients make money, not the business of disrupting business.  Contact us today about planning your migration to the cloud with Microsoft Office 365!