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Implementing Microsoft Office 365? Get Some Help

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by Jamie Burke

Cloud services offer cost savings, scalability and the functionality to simplify operations. If they have not already moved their new offerings and strategic product investments to the cloud, many technology providers are rapidly heading in that direction.

The implementation of software-plus-service subscriptions, like Microsoft Office 365, can be complex. Systems integrators that provide managed services can help migrate and maintain cloud-based services, making the process much smoother.

Here are the ISG Top 5 elements to consider when building your business case:

1. Understand your current Microsoft licensing agreement. Know when you are scheduled to renew or replace it and what new licensing schemes are available to you. Having a good inventory of your current licenses and user profiles could save you millions of dollars. Negotiate with Microsoft to avoid significant write-offs for your existing license inventory, and put some thought into what license SKUs are required to support your workforce profiles. Crafting a good services contract framework takes effort, focus and collaboration between your organization, the integrator and Microsoft.

2. Your current infrastructure and collaboration technology investments and roadmaps will dictate what to migrate to the Office 365 cloud. Will you migrate your voice and web conferencing services, or only move Exchange, Lync and SharePoint? The applications that interface with your SharePoint and Exchange environments may or may not be ready to move to, and interface with, a cloud-based service. Plan on modifying your applications or infrastructure architecture to facilitate residing in, or interacting with, Office 365. This is a joint effort between your applications and infrastructure teams!

3. Understand the third-party applications that are actively used in your SharePoint environment. Because the SharePoint platform could be facilitating thousands of workflows that are essential to active business processes, this inventory will reflect the level of effort you are asking of the organization as it transitions to cloud-based services. The re-programming of workflows is a function well-suited for sourcing to a service integrator. The transformation methodologies and overall competence of systems integrators in this space is growing by the day.

4. Be sure to architect the protection you need for your company’s data. Pick a model of Office 365 that suits your data protection and operational risk requirements. Use a dedicated tenant infrastructure or the Microsoft shared infrastructure model. Involve your quality assurance, legal and security departments early in this process to understand the risks and mitigation plans you will need to build into the contracts with your service provider and Microsoft.

5. Understand the feature/function differences between the new subscription software and the enterprise software your user population is accustomed to using. Proactively communicate and train the organization, the service desk and your VIP users about these differences to help ease the overall transition and its cost.

ISG has helped many organizations work through their systems integration efforts. Contact James Burke to discuss further.

About the author

Jamie helps clients define strategy, capitalize on cloud, analytics and digital technology trends and implement target operating models. Recently, he assisted several Fortune 100 and 1000 clients in sourcing their global transformations to the Microsoft cloud, next generation networks and data center co-location solutions. ITIL certified, Jamie has a BA in MIS from Notre Dame and an MBA with a concentration in Portfolio, Program and Project management from the University of Texas at Dallas. He served as an Airborne, Air Assault and Ranger qualified US Army Field Artillery officer. His military decorations include the 1998 Gen. MacArthur Leadership Award.