Microsoft has launched the public beta of the highly-anticipated Office 365. There is a lot to like about the cloud-based suite, but one of the most compelling features of the service might just be the price.
Starting at $6 per seat per month, Office 365 is almost a no-brainer for small and medium companies. Organizations with fewer than 50 users typically don't have a dedicated IT administrator, and lack both the skills and the budget to implement and maintain the infrastructure necessary to deliver what Office 365 does. For a paltry $72 per user per year, these companies get the benefit of Exchange e-mail, Lync instant messaging, SharePoint collaboration, and the Office Web Apps productivity suite.
At first glance, it may seem that a service like Office 365 is actually targeted at, or uniquely suited for smaller businesses like these. However, when you start to dig into the math a little more, it quickly becomes evident that even the largest organizations could operate more efficiently, and cut costs at the same time by adopting Office 365.
A large company may have thousands or tens of thousands of employees, and generally has at least one data center--possibly more depending on how big the company is and how dispersed it is geographically. The servers have to be maintained, powered, and cooled. The applications have to be monitored, and the data has to be backed up. In order to provide some resiliency and ensure availability, that effort may be duplicated at multiple data centers that all require trained, expert personnel to execute it all.
Start adding all of that up. You have the cost of the server hardware, the OS licenses, the server application licenses, and the client access licenses. You have the cost of electricity to power the server infrastructure, and the cost of the electricity it takes to run the air conditioning to keep the data center cool. You have the investment in hardware and software necessary to perform data backups. And, you have the annual compensation and benefits for the IT staff it takes to manage it all.
Office 365 Enterprise offers a range of service plans from $4 per user per month, up to $27 per user per month. Assuming a company of 1000 users, you are talking about an investment of $27,000 per month for the top-of-the-line Office 365 Enterprise service--or nearly $325,000 a year. It looks like a big number by itself, but if you stack it against the math from the last paragraph, suddenly it seems like Microsoft is giving Office 365 away, or even paying you to use it.
You get all of the productivity benefits of the Microsoft productivity and communications tools, while leaving the backend headaches and tedium to Microsoft. Microsoft will deliver Office 365 from geographically disperse, fully redundant sites providing reliable availability and resiliency that Microsoft guarantees with a financially-backed 99.9 uptime Service Level Agreement (SLA).
The break-even will vary from one company to the next. It all depends on how many users you have, which Office 365 plan you choose, and what costs and expenses the move to Office 365 will eliminate for your organization. But, it is an exercise well worth the effort because odds are fair that Office 365 will essentially pay for itself.
Combine Office 365 with Windows InTune PC management, and you have a cost-effective, cloud-based IT infrastructure that frees you and your users up to focus on your core business and do what you do best.