A recent announcement by Microsoft has confirmed Office 365 is now FREE for not-for-profit organisations in Australia - a potential saving of thousands of dollars.
We have spoken directly to the Microsoft Office 365 team to find out exactly how NFPs can take advantage of the special pricing.
Ross: All righty. It's 11 o'clock. We might get the introductions out of the way now while the final stragglers come through. Welcome to the webinar on Office 365 for not for profits. My name is Ross and I'll be facilitating our webinar today. We have Tony Nissen National Solutions manager at R&G Technologies with us and also Fiona Sims from Microsoft will be joining us around quarter past to take over the second half of the presentation and to help answer some of the questions you guys might have about the not for profit pricing and donation plans. Let me put you over to Tony and Tony will take it from here.
Tony: Thanks, Ross. Hi everyone. My name is Tony, as mentioned from Ross. My job at R&G is to embrace my [inaudible 00:01:53] and to help people both understand and achieve their outcomes by the [inaudible 00:01:58] technologies. That’s what we're trying to do today is to give you a bit of education around obviously what Office 365 is, what the benefits are, but also what the caveats are and things you should be aware of if you're going to look at this particular solution as well.
What we are also going to to do towards the end as Ross mentioned, we've got Fiona Sims from Microsoft who is going to run through some updates on the not for profit donation program for Office 365 and we're also going to have a Q&A session at the end as well. We'll just get started and move through the content. Ross, are we allowed to move on?
Ross: Yeah. I was just going to jump in and tell everybody that we will be leaving the questions and answers to the end so Tony and Fiona can answer them together but what I will ask you to do is ask them in the chat pane whenever you feel like they come to mind, and I'll jot all the questions down and we'll facilitate that at the end. Okay, over to you, Tony.
Tony: Excellent. Thanks, Ross. Just to quickly touch on the agenda for today. We are going to have a chat about what Office 365 is, why it matters, where Office 365 fits into your IT strategy, things to consider and be mindful of when moving to Office 365. We do have a case study that we're going to run you through as well today from one of our clients at Civic Solutions who did move to Office 365. We've got Fiona who will be helping to give some updates on the Office 365 donation program and you will have the Q&A session at the end.
To kick things off, I thought we would talk about what Office 365 is and it's definitely probably one of the more most predominant questions I get on a day to day basis from going out and talking to businesses and organizations. For those of you who are not aware, Office 365 is Microsoft's software as a service or subscription based service, which gives you [inaudible 00:03:51] access to various software application products that are built around the Microsoft Office platform. You will see things like Word and Excel, PowerPoint, [inaudible 00:04:02] that the majority of people are very familiar with.
They've combined that with a couple of new applications and tools that have really kind of tied the solution together and the two particular tools I wanted to focus on today is a product called SharePoint and a product called Link. The reason these have been brought in is to really kind of embrace or kind of continue down the path for Microsoft's vision for a connected office. Not only having a world where all your applications talk together, but you can access them from different locations, but also transitioning to a particular model or design that you don't necessarily have to have all aligned that kind of traditional server environment, which is very important and it does have some really good benefits, which we'll touch on really shortly.
Before we get onto that, I thought I would take a moment to quickly for anyone who hasn't seen SharePoint or Link before, to quickly show you some screen shots of it and just to talk lightly about what the products are and what they do. The first one we will have a quick look at is SharePoint and for anyone who hasn't seen SharePoint before, it's basically a web based or browser based document management and collaboration platform.
It's very similar to the traditional kind of intranet that you may be familiar with or the concept of having that kind of internal website for your business or for your organization. It can be used for a combination of things. This is a screen shot of a SharePoint 2030 implementation we did not long ago for an organization by Xavier and they use it for a number of things.
The first thing you can see in the screen shot is they do have things like company announcements and information like that on the landing page. They will use it as a communication platform for the CEO or the management team to get on there and post updates or post relevant content for what is going on within the organization as well.
There on the left hand side, you can see there is a navigation bar where they've got links to lots of different things so things like the strategic plan for the organization, the risk management plan, surveys, things like latest MDI use so once again, relevant content to what is happening within the organization as well. They've got some counter links down the side too, which can be quite useful for kind of communicating, especially if you are in a situation where you start to disperse or work remotely. It really gives you that kind of central hub to contain all this relevant information and give that to them in a useful platform as well.
Across the top of the site, you see there is also another navigation bar and what we advocate and what Xavier has embraced is really breaking the SharePoint site down into different business units within the organization. You can see across the top, they've got a tab for board management, finance, and north side and south side team. That really reflects the two offices but what they've also done is have done different sections of SharePoint start to have the content around training. They've also got a shared, what they call share drive, which is for anyone who has a traditional server environment, I would imagine you'd have an S drive, an R drive, or a D drive.
Well you kind of store all your organizational content and one of the things that they've done is not only brought that feature into the SharePoint site but they've actually set this up so there are different document libraries in the different sections, which are actually relevant to that particular business unit as well. It kind of ties that whole concept together potentially replacing the need for you to have a traditional file server but also replacing the need for potentially for you guys to have a terminal server as well because it makes this content accessible by a web browser from pretty much any device with an internet connection these days. There are some really interesting things you can do with SharePoint.
Moving onto Link. For anyone who hasn't seen Link before, it's basically what Microsoft calls a unified communications application. In lamens terms it's really like a corporate version or business version of Skype or MSN messenger that some of you may be familiar with. It's a product which has been designed to be a tool for your staff within your organization to be used for instant messaging, doing calls or link to link calls like you would do similar with Skype. There are also some other features which are built in, which can be quite handy and can actually extend to people outside your organization whether it be business, organizational partners or suppliers or clients.
Stuff like being able to do screen sharing or conferencing or web meetings and being able to invite people to participate in this particular web meeting or conference or an on line meeting where you can share your screen regardless of them having actually a Link account. They've really made this tool, once again, for people who are traveling or working in different locations or need to have meetings with people in different locations. They've really brought this tool into the solution to kind of give you that ability to collaborate and communicate better as an organization as well. It's a really interesting tool.
The next thing I really wanted to cover is why Office 365 and why you should be considering it. If you are at crossroads with your IT or if you are looking at trying to kind of move in the solution where you are adopting more client technologies. I really think it comes down to the more for less rule and I'll show you what I mean by that.
Office 365 or pretty much any kind of software that is service based or cloud based solution, there is really four main key features or key benefits it brings to your organization by moving in this direction. Hands down, the big one that everyone is interested in or the first two is obviously the mobility factor and productivity and actually moving your now system or let's say you adopt SharePoint and you put all your documents in there or if you move to Zero or Sales Force or something like that. Moving your core business elements into that kind of cloud environment where it is centralized, it's available from multiple devices and just using the web browser. It really gives you the ability to allow your staff to be more mobile and naturally that translates into productivity.
The fact that they can pick up their tablet, they can work on the road, they can work from a client's house, they can directly access things on the go. It has some really great productivity gains there through that mobility element. The other two points we've got in there, the first one is continuity and what I mean by this is that in a traditional sense where we'll use the host exchange or the email component of our Office 365 as an example for this and traditionally when you wanted to achieve this, you would do this with a Microsoft product called small business server or SBS for some of you who may have heard the abbreviation for it.
What that will do is you actually set this up in your office and have your email hosted from your server that lived in your office, which for some people that is definitely the way they want to go but the challenge you have with that, and this is especially if you have people working remotely or if you have multiple office locations is that the internet connection in the head office was ever to go down or the server was to fall over in that head office, you've got an outage of your internet for your email so people can't access their emails or potentially can't access documents as well.
They are actually moving this element of your IT environment once again outside to a neutral location. It just means that these services, whether it be document mail or the CIM on your accounting package, it just means that those elements are going to continue to function and continue to be available to people whether it be via 3G connection or a 4G connection or working from home or working from another office. It just means these services will continue to be available in the event that you have an outage at the head officer server. There are some really nice obviously advantages of having that in place as well.
The last point I've got down is just the agility and it really comes down to kind of combining those three elements and being able to service your clients in a more agile fashion and being able to be more responsive, being able to take your systems out on the site or take your systems out to someone's home that you may be working with and actually it leverages your tools better and adopt methodology that are ready to service your clients in a more timely fashion as well. Even the cloud based stuff, not only Office 365 really has some powerful ways of achieving them as well so you should really take them into consideration.
In the less camp, probably one of the main benefits of 365 and all this software as a service based products is they really give you access to this enterprise, greater infrastructure, without you having to make the capital investment yourself, without having to go out and set up the servers and set up the software to kind of create this environment. You are going to Office 365 for your software service provider and they are providing this to you excluding the donation program but they are providing this to you on a monthly pay, use it for a month basis.
The whole concept of that is, you know, your IT becomes very much a utility. It is similar to your [inaudible 00:14:07]. You get to come in, you get to flick your light switch in the morning, the power just works and if something happens to the transformer or the equipment in the power station where they are generating the power, it's the provider's responsibility to get that up and running and to keep that running and to keep that service maintained. It's very similar in approach with any of the software as a service of the Office 365 client stuff in the market.
What does that mean for you? Well, you know really it's all about, you know, not only reducing the complexity of your IT environment in your organization, but that also has the ability to potentially reduce some of the administrative overheads of managing and maintaining that environment but also has the ability to potentially reduce the down time that you would experience from running your own on premises sort of solutions.
Microsoft has made significant investments in the Office 365 platform and they provide this solution to thousands of businesses all around the world so they have definitely set up a solution, a back end to the solution to be designed to have multiple layers of redundancy and to really support quite a large client base. You get to take advantage of that and leverage that kind of investment without having actually to spend the money on the actual hardware or the software up front, which is fantastic. It's really great for anyone with a small or medium space. It gives you that kind of client capability without the [inaudible 00:15:42], which is fantastic.
Some of the other questions that we get a lot and I thought I'd take some time just to address is about Office 365 and IT strategy and questions like you know, when should I adopt Office 365 or how does Office 365 fit into my [inaudible 00:16:01] strategy and what are the caveats? What are the things that I need to be mindful of and consider if I'm considering moving to 365 or some other cloud-based software as a service solution as well?
There is a lot of reasons to consider it. In my eyes, I think a rather good time to kind of sit down and look at it is if you are in one of these situations that we've got this, you know, if you are in a situation where you do have to potentially spend some money on your IT environment whether it is replacing servers or updating software or something like that. 365 does have some really great abilities to offset some of that capital expense of a pending upgrade. If you are in that position, definitely I think it is worthwhile considering or talking to your IT partner about it to see if they think it fits into your overarching kind of IT strategy requirements.
A couple of other points of [inaudible 00:16:59] if you are looking for a way to potentially lower your ongoing maintenance and support costs. Leveraging 365 does have the ability to offset some of that cost from a maintenance point of view and potentially a support point of view as well. It can be a really good facilitator for that.
The last point is obviously if you are looking for a way to improve your efficiency through mobility so looking to get some gains and give you a realization or give you a start with the ability to be more agile and to be able to go out into the community and to do work and access your systems, utilizing solutions like 365 allow you to really achieve that at a pretty cost effective manner and achieve it in a way where it's going to be a viable solution even for the guys who are potentially working on a 3G or 4G connection from their tablet or their phone. It definitely is a really good time to kind of start asking the questions and looking into a bit further if you are in [inaudible 00:17:59].
Some things to be mindful of and to consider, as we spoke about, there are some really good benefits of moving to 365 or the cloud but some things to kind of talk over not only with your board or your senior management team but also discuss with your technical partners is obviously from a data storage location, is there any legal obligations for you to have your data stored inside a [inaudible 00:18:32]. For anyone who is not aware at the moment, 365 do utilize the [inaudible 00:18:37] data center to service Australian customers.
It is a question you do want to ask and I definitely suggest asking it and investigating it really early in your [inaudible 00:18:47] of kind of evaluating the cloud is just to make sure that this particular provider you are looking at moving to, just to identify where their data center is and from a legal point of view if you do have any of those legal obligations, which would potentially stop you from being able to leverage that.
Application dependency is also very important. This is definitely one to get your technical advisor involved in. There are a lot of rogue applications or serve based applications such as CRMs or accounting packages or donation management packages or event management packages, which will actually require some level of kind of file access or email access. Depending on what level of integration these applications have with those elements, there may be potential road blocks there, which would stop you from moving your email or moving your file shares or your file storage from outside the traditional sever environment.
Once again, another really good thing to kind of identify in the beginning and really get your technical advisor or your internal resource or an external resource, get them involved and say look, we were considering moving down this path, can you give us some advice for any applications about what we're using and how we're using it and just have a look at if there are any dependencies, which potentially stop us from adopting this new cloud based technology.
The third one I've got there is internet connectivity, which is hands down also very, very important if you are looking at any type of cloud based service regardless of being [inaudible 00:20:24] as a service or traditional kind of remote desktop environment or virtual server environment where you are actually dialing in. You want to have a look at your internet connection and once again speak to your tech or speak to your IT coordinator and just ask the questions and make sure are they happy with the performance with your current connection and is it stable. Ask them do they have many outages.
Also, have a chat with the guys who look after it and say you know, we are looking at adopting some cloud based technology, what is the availability like in the areas that our staff work in. You want to kind of once again kind of take that off early in the piece just to make sure that there is a certain level of connectivity and it's of a decent level, not only in your satellite offices but maybe in some of the locations that your staff has to go out and work with in the community just to make sure that they can get a reasonably good 3G or 4G connection and they will just be able to access some of these tools that are going to be hosted externally.
The next three points I've got there is solution design. There are many different ways that you can kind of integrate 365 into your IT strategy or into your IT environment. There are some organizations who can go completely to the cloud and actually transition to a model where they don't have any other server infrastructure whether it be on premises or virtual servers hosted in a data center to support their needs and sometimes there are organizations out there who can actually achieve the outcomes they need to actually achieve by just using SharePoint and Link and using the Office 365, the built in solutions for kind of security and management around documents and stuff like that.
Some people do tip that box but the flipside of that client is there are situations where for whatever reason, whether it be because they are using the legacy application or have particular requirements around [inaudible 00:22:28] security where you may have to go to what's called a hybrid model where you actually are using some software as a service based service but you are also using an on site or on premises service solution to support whether it be as kind of a security measure to manage the security of your work stations.
A really popular kind of industry who uses this type of design is anyone who does a lot of high level or a lot of design work so people who use auto CAD or photoshop and stuff like that. Being that these files are quite large, generally speaking, a lot of these guys actually have kind of a basic server on site or even like some of these guys will just have what is called a NAZ, which is for anyone who hasn't heard of that before, it's a network that attaches to a device and it's basically a hard drive, which plugs into your networking office and it gives you kind of a shared drive that anyone can access. Storing those rather large file types locally on your network just means that the guys who have to work within it on a daily basis, just have a bit more of a positive experience.
Once again from an application point of view, you may have an old CRM or an accounting package that you are very tied to and you are able to move to a software as a service replacement or unable to actually move that to a hostess solution and you may be required to run the on premises server so once again, it's a really good question for your technical advisor.
The point of access hardware is another point I've got there and that's sort of just identifying the devices that your staff are going to work from. If you are going to be moving them as [inaudible 00:24:09], you are going to be using 365 and using SharePoint and stuff like that, you want to have a bit of a look to see what they are using whether it be laptops, desktops, is there an opportunity to potentially do some consolidation of devices.
A lot of organizations I've seen over the years have kind of transitioned from a model where your staff member will have a desktop or have a laptop and as recently as well have a tablet and one of the really nice things about these kind of web based or browser based technologies is that you get that level of access and that level of security without potentially having to work from a full PC device. Some of the devices which recently came out a year or so back is the Microsoft Surface and they've got a couple of different reiterations of that which they've become a device, which is not only a tablet but it can be used as a laptop or if you have a docking station, it can be even used as a full desktop. That's something that we've been actually as a business embraced as well.
A lot of our management team now work off Microsoft Surfaces as their primary device, myself included. When I'm out and about working, I come into the office and I plug my surface into a docking station, which gives me access to two screens, a keyboard and mouse, ethernet and so on but when I travel around and I go to my appointments and go to see people, I just carry this thing around and I use it both as a tablet and more so in the laptop kind of functionality as well. There is a really good opportunity there if you are looking at going down this path to potentially get some efficiency gained there with your hardware as well.
Second to the last point I've got up there to talk about is identifying your staff's skill level and taking the time to understand if your staff are comfortable with off web based technology but also to, excuse me, [inaudible 00:26:04] just popped up on the screen. I [inaudible 00:26:06] Ross. So, to take the time to identify if your staff is actually comfortable with web based technology but also, you know, identifying what level of training may be required if you are going to implement some of these solutions into the environment.
Obviously implementing the products like SharePoint and Link do require a bit of training to get used to obviously how to navigate and how to get the best out of them but if you are going to be integrating [inaudible 00:26:31] solutions into the environment as an example, dynamics, which is the Microsoft cloud based CRM or sales force or zero and taking the time to actually identify where the staff for that or where their kind of skill level is at with this kind of web based technology and planning ahead for that and actually identifying what level of training will be provided and definitely trying to get that training to them prior to actually cutting into these systems in a live environment.
From an adoption point of view, if you can get your staff comfortable with it and familiar with it before you do that [inaudible 00:27:07] and go live with these systems, you are just going to find that the take up rate of web based technology is going to be a lot higher and you are potentially off setting any productivity loss or minimize the productivity loss of adopting these new solutions as well.
Last but not least, I do want to touch on migration budget. It is definitely one thing to consider with any cloud based solution, not just 365 but if you are going to go down the path of investing in a new technology or moving to a new technology, you really want to make sure and from a financial point of view but also from a technical point of view that you've taken the time to scope out the migration correctly by looking at things like training, internet, solution design and making sure you've got a budget there to support a successful outcome.
Ideally, you don't want to cut corners because there are situations I've seen where organizations have gone down the path of adopting a new cloud based solution and because they didn't have the budget at the time or didn't go through the process of kind of identifying their requirements in the beginning, they didn't invest in things like getting staff trained or understanding the staff skill level or understanding what their full requirements are and unfortunately I've definitely come across situations in the last four years where people have adopted something that they are not necessarily using to the best capacity or are not making the most out of the solution because they overlooked something in that earlier stage.
I really encourage you to definitely take the time to define and understand your requirements wholly and make sure you do have a budget per say to actually dedicate to [inaudible 00:28:54] but doing it in a way where you've tipped off all your requirements and your staff are going to get that level of training and advice around the solutions that we're moving to as well. Moving on, before we get onto the update from Fiona, I just want to ...
Ross: Hey Tony.
Tony: Touch on the case study.
Ross: Tony, sorry, I just dropped in a little bit. What we might do is bring Fiona in now.
Tony: Okay, cool.
Ross: Just to, yeah, yeah, if that's right and then we'll wrap up the case study once she's gone through the pricing. Is that okay with you?
Tony: Yeah, sure thing. I'll skip ahead to the slides in two seconds.
Ross: Yeah. Cool. All right. I will just bring Fiona in. Again, Fiona Sims is the senior product marketing manager at Microsoft and we are really happy to have her on the call. I'll just move to her now and welcome, Fiona.
Fiona: Hi guys. Can you hear me?
Ross: I can hear you fine. Can everybody hear Fiona? A bit soft.
Fiona: Oh. [inaudible 00:30:03].
Ross: There we go, yeah.
Ross: That's better. Yup. Cool. Take it away.
Fiona: Okay so will somebody turn the slides for me where I can ...
Ross: Yeah, Tony. Tony's got that one. Yeah.
Fiona: Welcome. Thanks for having me on the call today guys. I just wanted to spend a few minutes or so just giving you guys an update on Microsoft's non profit donation program as it relates to Office 365. It's been a long time in coming and I don't know if people are aware that last June Microsoft announced globally that we will be donating Office 365 as part of our donation program to the non profit sector and based out of that obviously in the US and then doing a rolling launch country by country around the world.
Australia has done a soft launch, which was on the 8th of May so about a month ago, where we announced the software program. We've actually, what we've done at the moment is we've launched the trial and so the trial comes in a form of an E3 trial and that's just simply the name of one of our Office 365 plans that gives you the best sort of functionality and range of features within the Office 365 service. That's available today on the Microsoft Australia non profit website.
The trial gives you initially 90 days and 50 uses. We haven't yet been given an exact general availability launch date from corporate yet. We're still waiting on that. If the launch date does extend past your trial, you will just automatically have your trial extended so for all intensive purposes, you now get the full range of functionality of an E3 trial, which will come at a small cost, the E3 one will. Others are free, which I'll talk about in a moment but the E3 one, you get that full service functionality for the next several months as part of our launch, which is a great thing for you guys to sort of start trying it out and really getting some of your data and your customers and your staff on board and seeing how you like the service.
Next slide please. Is that it? There we go. These are the main plans that will be available when we are generally available. We're going to be offering the Office 365 small business for non profits but it's actually going to be a donation so that will be free. Then we have the Office 365 small business premium for non profits. The pricing for that will be released at the time of launch but it's a small cost. We then have Office 365 enterprise for non profit. This will be also a donation plan so you will get that at no cost and then the Office 365 enterprise E3, which is the one I was just talking about. This is the one that is available for trial today and there will also be a small cost per user at the time of launch.
The prices will be made available when we launch but suffice to say, certainly if you are interested in E1 or small business for non profits, they will be at zero cost to eligible non profit organizations. To get details on exactly what is included in those plans from a feature function point of view, you can visit our website and you can see the link there and that will give you details around what is in each plan and what is included and so forth. Thank you. Next slide.
Yup, I think that was it. Just to finish up, we're really excited to be able to provide donation software to the non profit community and if you guys have any questions, I'll be staying on the line. I don't know, Tony and Ross, did you want to open for Q&A now or are we just going to leave it until later?
Tony: We might as well continue on, I think, Ross, if you are happy to do so.
Ross: In terms of Q&A or back to the case study?
Tony: Yeah, we'll go with the Q&A and we'll save the case study to the end, I think.
Ross: Yeah. Yeah. Sounds good.
Tony: Very good, Ross. Have you got any questions there that you wanted to facilitate?
Ross: Yes. Yes. There's plenty here so what I'll do is I'll take them through. Some are directed at Tony, some are directed at both you Tony and Fiona so you guys can choose who is going to be the best to answer it.
Ross: Firstly, we've got one from Matthew Biles for you, Tony. Have your clients had issues surrounding their people experiencing slower connectivity to SharePoint 2013 when used for document libraries compared to a local file server?
Tony: Okay. It's a good question. Are you comparing that to ... Sorry guys. Gordon keeps popping up on the screen. Are you comparing that, Matthew, to the previous version of SharePoint so the SharePoint 2010? Or is it just in general? That's all right. I'll comment on it anyway. My experience has been in the last four years is it's never going to be as quick as having a local file storage regardless of it being a file or an application.
If you are going to access that over the internet, there's always going to be a slight delay compared to running it on the local network. That's unavoidable. That being said, I've actually seen some clients or organizations who are currently using 365 in some regional locations such as Daton is probably one of the ones that pops into memory to have a [inaudible 00:36:19] to an organization that specializes in disability service out there and they've been using 365 for quite some time.
Definitely that was one of my first questions was how does SharePoint run for you being that you are kind of in a bit of a regional location and usually that connectivity isn't always the best. The gentleman I spoke with at the time said he had quite a positive experience and in fact when he got on, he did some tests in just opening documents not only using the web app but downloading and opening it in a local version of Microsoft Word and [inaudible 00:36:54] it again.
My experience anyway has been pretty positive for the guys who have moved over to it. I think you just need to really, you have to set your expectations correctly from the beginning and you have to realize that it's never, as you say, it's never going to be as quick as wanting something on the local network but it's, all in all, I definitely think it's workable and it works reasonably well. I don't know if Fiona has got any comments on that from her personal experiences.
Fiona: No, I think you summed it up really well.
Ross: All right. We'll move on to a couple questions from Brad, Brad Johnson. What is the difference between the version of Office 365 you might buy at Harvey Norman than say this one directly?
Fiona: Do you want me to answer that?
Ross: Yeah, sure.
Fiona: Yeah. What we sell in like a Harvey Norman and a JB Hify and so forth is that Office 365 for consumer and our Office 365 for University so normally they are limited to one license. You are buying that subscription for yourself. From an actual feature and function, there isn't much difference at all. You certainly get your data is still in the same data, you are getting the full optimal availability, the same office applications and so forth. There is a bit of a difference in that one drive for business obviously comes with a non profit service and you get the one drive for a small [inaudible 00:38:37] with the consumer and university so they are kind of the main differences of that.
Ross: Cool and a followup question from Brad is we currently use Microsoft Business Contact Manager. Does this integrate with Office 365?
Fiona: Business Contact Manager. I don't actually know what that is. Is that, you mean like a CRM on line? I'm not really sure [inaudible 00:39:10].
Ross: Possibly with Outlook. Is that correct, Brad? Can you just let us know?
Tony: Yeah, I think he may be referring to the Outlook business contact manager.
Tony: From memory.
Fiona: I'm not sure because I'm not exactly sure what product you were referring to. We did have a business contact manager a long time ago and it could be that it's a very old thing. I'd have to get more understanding of exactly what you are talking about but as far as being able to manage your contacts within Office 365, you absolutely can. Outlook is a part of Office 365 so if you wanted to sign up for their subscription and get a part of that service and there was management needed of your contacts, you can do that. If you wanted to go deeper in managing your [inaudible 00:40:00] contacts, using something like a CRM on line, then you can also get [inaudible 00:40:06] as a subscription through your Office 365 admin console. I'm not sure if that helped but certainly I can go in and find out more about what business contact manager is.
Ross: We can grab Brad's details and follow him up after if we need some more clarification. Would that work for you, Brad? Yeah. Okay. All right. Next question is from Damion. In regards to the data storage planned for Australia or even Victoria, is there going to be a Microsoft data center in Australia or New Zealand in the near future for Office 365?
Fiona: [inaudible 00:40:58]. Yeah, so the data centers need to be in [inaudible 00:41:02], it's not for Office 365. Currently, there are no plans to have an Office 365 data center in Australia or New Zealand.
Ross: Okay. Right. Next one. Another one from ...
Fiona: If I could just add on to that too. If there are concerns with where the data is stored, we do obviously have hosting partners in Australia and do you guys, forgive me, but do [inaudible 00:41:34] at a hosting service?
Tony: Most definitely so. We have a [inaudible 00:41:37] infrastructures and service platform, which is hosted in Brisban technology park just [inaudible 00:41:42] in Queensland. There are definitely other options for anyone who kind of wants to leverage cloud based technology or Microsoft cloud based technology but may be limited from legal requirements. You can take advantages of other platforms and I'm really glad you mentioned this before Fiona because that's, obviously another Microsoft cloud platform, which is going to be accessible and obviously hosted in Australia as well, which is fantastic.
Fiona: Yeah. Great.
Ross: Cool. Another question from Brad. We currently purchased Office 365 through Telstra. Can we move over to Microsoft directly and take advantage of these not for profits pricing and donation plans?
Fiona: Yeah, so technically it's been done before. It's not something we would recommend. It's a very complicated process that a customer needs to go through that can take up to six months to move off the Telstra platform to the Microsoft direct platform.
Ross: Okay. All right.
Fiona: [inaudible 00:42:58].
Ross: Yeah. Yeah. That's a common question so yea, we were really happy to get that one cleared up. All right. Next one. So we've got a lot of questions here. I'm just moving through them as I can. Matthew Biles, is it possible to transition an existing local SharePoint set up in dynamic CRM set up to the Microsoft hosted versions? That might be one for you, Tony.
Tony: Did you want me to jump on that one, Fiona?
Tony: I'll get you to correct me if I'm wrong. In short, yes, you can. It's not as easy as a point and click. You need to kind of look at what versions of SharePoint and Dynamics you are running. I believe there are I think with the older versions that that is a little bit tricker but it is technically possible but it will just vary in the degrees of time investment depending on the current versions but also the current, the design and layout of the SharePoint site. You may have to deliver [inaudible 00:44:01] depending on the kind of elements or things you are trying to achieve with that as well.
Ross: Cool. Shane has a followup question regarding SharePoint. Can SharePoint handle multi-media files, particularly non Microsoft video formats such as .MOV and .MP4?
Tony: I believe so. Fiona, do you know if that is true or not?
Fiona: Yeah, absolutely.
Ross: Fantastic. Yes. All right. Moving through here. From Matthew Biles. How can we start to plan and make the move to Office 365, specifically taking advantage of the E3 without knowing what we will have to pay to keep these features? This is a question directed to you, Fiona.
Fiona: What I would say to that is I would suggest you visit the US non profit website. That will give you an indicator as to what the prices will be. I think you can expect the E3 plan to be around about $6 per user in that vicinity so it's not going to be crazy but obviously it's not donation like an E1, which is free. You can certainly go onto the E3 trial now and start experiencing it and using it as if the subscription was in production.
If you get to the end of the trial once we launch the services generally available and you decide that you don't like the price or maybe you are not really utilizing all the features of E3, then at the end of your trial, you can just select the E1 trial and flick over into production, I'm sorry, the E1 service and flicking to production. You would then be paying nothing and you would pay nothing for your trial either or you can select at the end of your trial, you can select the E3 service and start paying per user.
You will also be able to in the very near future mix it up so you could have potentially 20 users on E3 and 20 users on E1. You can sort of manage the costs and who gets what features and functionality that way as well. There are lots of options coming very soon in the future to how you manage your users and what plans they are on.
Ross: Excellent and just to touch on that one. I understand, Fiona, the plan is you are able to kind of mix and match between the enterprise plans and the small business plans but you can't kind of cross over between the two, is that correct?
Fiona: Yeah so if you think, yeah, it's difficult. Yeah, you can't mix the enterprise and the small business ones at the moment. It's on the road map but until then, you can't do it. Yeah.
Ross: Excellent. Fantastic. All right.
Fiona: And just to clarify, to go back, the main differences if you are thinking of which to get, do I get enterprise or small business, the main thing is really just decide for your organization. We are sort of recommending for more than 25 users you would go to an enterprise plan. That's just a recommendation. Yeah.
Ross: Cool so I believe that's answered your question as well, Shawn while we're there where we have a video question regarding mixing them both. Let me know if you need anymore clarification with your one. Our next question from Dan. Using one drive means you are working on sync files on your local hard drive so the speed is very fast. Is that a question, Dan or were you just sort of commenting there? I think he might have been just commenting.
Tony: That's [inaudible 00:47:51] we use SharePoint internally and I've used the one drive or used to be called the [inaudible 00:47:56] but it's now a one drive component for quite some time. The reason I actually use it is I synchronize specific documents that I need off line access to. To give an example, if I fly down to Sydney or Melbourne, I've actually synchronized particular drives using that one drive capacity and I can work on the plane on my documents and then when I get back to the hotel and I connect up to the internet, it just automatically pushes those changes up so that's generally what it's been designed for is that off line access.
In regards to the speed of it then yeah, definitely obviously if you are going to work directly out of your one drive, follow it from your desktop, just opening the document will be saving you a couple seconds because it's not kind of sucking it down over the internet so to speak so I guess that's a fair comment. Yeah.
Ross: Okay so from Damion here, next one. He is interested in your thoughts, Tony, as to the advantages of using 365 over a cloud-based full desktop.
Tony: Okay. Yeah, well that's a really good question and probably the predominant reason we've advocated it in the past is not, well cost obviously comes into [inaudible 00:49:19] because it's obviously a really cost effective solution, just fantastic, but from a design point of view, you know, we've had organizations who have staff once again working in locations where they have limited or poor internet productivity or don't have the ability to be on line all the time. Using SharePoint and using that one drives kind of off line synchronization tool, it still gives them the ability to potentially access the documents because it's just like you've been on the website.
You've got enough bandwidth to look at the website and you can bring up your SharePoint page. Once you click on the document, yes, it will download it but once it's downloaded, you are actually working on it locally on your desktop and where I think that has the advantage over the traditional role of remote desktop is that the whole time when you are working on a terminal server or a citric server even, you know, you pretty much connected or you are relying on that connection to do the general work so every time you press a key or move a mouse around, all that kind of key stroke and all that information has to be pushed across that internet connection and if it's slow or if it's not stable, you are going to get a lot of drop outs and your session will disconnect or probably one of the common things you may have experienced in the past if you are working on an older terminal server, you know, if you are trying to work on a Word document and you type the sentence and you look up at the screen and you see the sentence start to [inaudible 00:50:45] word by word or letter by letter across the screen.
Another great example is trying to open PDF's at work, working on PDF's in a remote desktop environment and you may remember if you double click and you open it, it kind of loads line by line and scrolling up and down can be quite difficult. What SharePoint in particular does, it still gives you that kind of access to all these resources but when you are working on them, you are actually working on that local machine so you are not struggling with that performance or having that poor user experience when you are trying to actually work on the document itself. You know, from a technical point of view, that is generally why we will advocate is to overcome those challenges around where there may be a remote desktop or a full kind of terminal service solution just isn't achievable because of bandwidth. Yeah.
Ross: Cool. Okay. Next one we have here from Shawn. Is there a difference with Office 365 and Office 2010, 2013, in terms of functionality?
Tony: Fiona, did you want to jump in?
Fiona: Yeah. Certainly between Office 2013 and Office 365, there isn't, well, okay, where do I start? Let me take a step back. Office 365 is a full set of a lot of different products that Microsoft has such as exchange, Link, SharePoint, and then obviously all the office applications such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and OneDrive and all that kind of stuff. What we've done is take all of those components and we've put them into the cloud and that's the Office 365 service.
How much of that particular feature that you access on line is dependent upon the plan that you select. Office 2013 is obviously an on premises version that you could get, which may have some or all of those components. Link is a separate thing where you [inaudible 00:52:50] into office so it really depends on what you mean when you say Office 2013.
Let's assume that we're talking about all the same functions and features and so forth that are [inaudible 00:53:01]. The difference with all the latest updates will come to Office 365 first so Office 2013, the on premises will tend to continue to roll out in say a two to three year roll out so we have Office 2010, then we did an Office 2013 so that's the three year gap and all the new features and [inaudible 00:53:22] took three years to get into that product.
In Office 365, that's happening every three to six months. We're doing regular updates and rollouts and providing new features and benefits and updates to all our subscribers so you really are getting all the latest and greatest stuff immediately and not having to wait for that three year lag for us to update the product.
Tony: Fantastic. I might just jump in there too and particularly on the more from a functionality or user perception point of view between Office 2010 and Office 2013, one of the things I really like and I'm just going to drag my office we're 2013 application on screen just to show you guys from a usability point of view with Office 2013, the direct integration between SharePoint on line and Microsoft Word or Excel with PowerPoint for example.
You'll notice when I go to file save as, I've actually got the ability to not only tap directly into my personal one drive but I've also got the ability to actually browse my SharePoint document libraries directly through the Word or Excel [inaudible 00:54:33] application and I think from a functionality point of view, this works a heck of a lot better compared to the 2010 version. For me, it made a really big difference in how I use it.
Ross: Cool. Couple more questions and then we'll sync back to the case study. Matthew Biles, does synching documents with OneDrive to your local machine lock the shared version or how are conflicts handled on a resynch?
Fiona: Do you want me to get that?
Tony: Yeah, Fiona, I'll let you go.
Fiona: Yeah. It doesn't lock the document so if you shared your document with somebody else, we can definitely, if you are connected to the internet then you can be [inaudible 00:55:26] and that collaboration is happening in your OneDrive at the same time.
The way it handles updates is just it refreshes. I think it is, I think if you are just working on the document by yourself, it's something like every, I don't know, 10 or 20 seconds. I don't quite know and I'm not sure but it's very often and you can force an update if you are just looking at whether or not you are, say your are in an Excel spreadsheet and down on the bottom you can just [inaudible 00:55:52] update and you can just do that.
If there are conflicts then it gives you a pop up window and you have the opportunity to choose which version that you want to keep, especially if it's [inaudible 00:56:06] on the same time and it lags a little bit. Then you get to make that decision. It's kind of [inaudible 00:56:14].
Ross: Cool and a followup question for Matthew. We currently have a number of Excel workbooks with many links in between. Is this feature supported on Office 365 and SharePoint on line?
Tony: Between Excel sheets, was that the question?
Tony: From [inaudible 00:56:34] to the other?
Ross: Yeah, I believe so.
Tony: To be honest, I haven't actually, through my personal experience, I haven't actually tried to pull one sheet from the other using in the SharePoint environment just because with the Excel sheets that I use. Fiona, I don't know if you have the answer to that one.
Fiona: There's no reason it should. It tends to [inaudible 00:56:56] versions that you sometimes get yourself in trouble and with Office 365, so what you are talking about there is the office applications, which is what we call pro plus. They are actually downloaded onto your hard drive so it's, you are working, you can work in the client anyway so if you are working in the client, then I would say it would definitely be supported. There would be no difference between you working and then Office 2013 Excel and the Office 365 Excel. It's just it's synching to the cloud versus just staying on your C drive. If you are working in the Excel on line app through the web browser then there may be challenges because it's not a speed to which the client version.
Tony: Yeah, that's a fair comment. That's probably one of the things I noticed with the office on line or the office web app is you definitely, it's definitely functional in the sense that you can get in there and make changes but from a full feature capability, there are some things it does kind of lack but I don't, my feeling on it anyway is I don't believe the office on line was ever really designed to kind of replace the local client completely. Is that a correct statement?
Fiona: Yeah. That's right. I mean, it is getting better and every time we do an update, they inject more features into it so it is becoming quite rich and certainly I know in the education space they often use the on line versions rather than the client versions but yeah. It's not a replacement. It's a web app. It's something you use through a browser.
And just to clarify, if you guys decide to go with Office 365, when you first log in, and you are sort of working with the lets get started page, one of the things that it asks you is get pro plus and then you start what we call a quick to run installation process where it puts all the office applications onto your device. Excel, Word, PowerPoint, OneNote, etc. That's how you can have that off line capability. You don't need to be connected tot the internet to use those office applications and then when you do connect to the internet, it would just synch to your office 365 OneDrive or wherever you choose for it to be.
Ross: Matthew has just come back and said if that's the case, how come the E3 and small business premium only offer the local desktop version?
Fiona: I'm not sure what that question means. What do you mean?
Tony: My understanding was that the E3 included a local version but also gave you access to the web app.
Fiona: That's correct.
Tony: Yeah, I wasn't aware that they covered that.
Fiona: They haven't. [inaudible 00:59:42] get that.
Ross: Okay. Does that clear things up for you, Matthew? All right, Tony, we've got a question from Dan. This is the last one then I'll synch back to that question regarding the business contact manager and then we'll go into the case study. Dan, this is for you Tony, how do you advise managing data storage in SharePoint where there is large amounts of data specifically when the number of folders and files is above 5000? The second part of the question, how do you manage OneDrive synchronizing so it's stable for synchronizing large amounts of data?
Tony: Oh Dan, thank you very much for those questions. Maybe I'll give you a call later. Look, for my experience, we haven't come across too many situations yet where we've had at least 5000 items. I have been told by the SharePoint consultants who do the actual deployment work that if it gets to that point or it looks like it is going to get to that point, it's probably time to have a serious sync about your structure, whether SharePoint is the right document management tool or if there is a way to actually go through and restructure your document libraries in a way where it will kind of fit within the current limitations of SharePoint. Fiona, do you have anything to add to that?
Fiona: No. I mean, yeah, that's pretty, I mean the best thing would be I would say to just work with a partner to just, I guess do some testing around if you've got that many objects. Certainly from a [inaudible 01:01:27] perspective, I mean, I don't know if you guys are aware there is one [inaudible 01:01:29] of storage [inaudible 01:01:32] user now so just from a space perspective, it's pretty generous. Yeah.
Tony: It's fantastic.
Fiona: Yeah, it is really good. So yeah and I would just connect with your partner and do that testing up front to make sure that you are optimizing the service for what you need for your business.
Tony: Dan, I'll organize a phone call with our SharePoint consultant to elaborate on that for you as well. [inaudible 01:02:00] to come through so thank you.
Ross: Cool. Just to circle back to the question regarding Microsoft business contact manager integrating with Office 365, Fiona, you've got a few more thoughts on that one?
Fiona: Yeah so I just looked up what that was. It's business contact manager is only for the on premises solution so it's not in Office 365.
Ross: Okay. Perfect. All right. That's the questions or a lot of them. Thanks very much, Fiona and Tony, for working through those. I hope that we helped a couple of [inaudible 01:02:38] to turn these out with sorting out what they need to do.
Fiona: My pleasure. I [inaudible 01:02:44].
Tony: That's right.
Ross: Thank you for coming, Fiona. Did you want to stick around for the case study or will you be on your way, Fiona?
Fiona: I think I've got about 10 more minutes, yeah.
Ross: Okay, perfect. Well, I'll pass it back over to Tony and if there are any more questions as we finish things up, we may be able to answer them again at the end, okay?
Tony: Awesome. Thanks Ross. Thanks Fiona. We'll quickly finish up with the case study. I just wanted to take a couple of minutes to run you through this particular organization. We are very lucky to be selected to work with an organization called city solutions and they specialize in disability in home support services for families with children who have disabilities and so they do some really great work in the community here in Brisbane and we were actually referred to them and we met with them last year.
When we went out there and had a bit of a look at what they had, very much the traditional kind of way of setting up your IT environment so they had a small business server and they had a terminal server as well, which is getting their staff in their second office access to basically just to file shares and stuff like that. They had 15 users across those two locations and they also were just very heavily relying on just the Microsoft office kind of Word/Excel/PowerPoint accessing documents off the shared drive and actually they only had one [inaudible 01:04:13] user as well at the time. It was pretty fair to say they had very basic requirements in regards to the IT solution that they were using.
That being said, they had a number of challenges with their environment and they asked us to come in and do a bit of a review to give them our thoughts and the first thing we very quickly discovered is there was a lot of stability issues within the environment and to be fair, this was largely due to not only the hardware but the software kind of approaching [inaudible 01:04:44].
They had really poor remote access and collaboration capabilities and this was due to the above point with the age of the hardware and software. The internet connectivity was definitely a big one. Just the type they kind of had in place wasn't ideal even though it was symmetrical. They did have even upload and download speed, there were some other things going on there, which were kind of effecting their ability for their staff to dial in and just do the simple things like work on a word document or work in an Excel document from that shared drive.
I remember at the time speaking with the CEO who was extremely frustrated because he couldn't work from home or couldn't work if he had to go away somewhere. It was to the point where he wanted to throw his laptop out the window. The speed issues had gotten [inaudible 01:05:33]. It was no good for them. It was really making an impact on the organization.
Probably one of the most surprising things though is regardless of them having basic requirements but also having all these issues, we did a total cost advantage analysis so in order to see what the cost of IT was to the organization and it was currently costing them nearly $43,000 per item and that included the cost of their managed services agreements so that IT support [inaudible 01:06:00] agreement and then also the internet connectivity as well. Surprisingly, that actually did exclude the cost of productivity so the total cost of the [inaudible 01:06:10] was very high especially because of the situation they were in.
We took that into account and we went through the process of kind of identifying and qualifying what their requirements are and their needs and we sat down and we put together a solution, which leveraged a couple different technologies so just to run you through what we did for them, and what we put forth was we did advocate they remain, so we went down the hardware path. We did hardware solution and we advocated they remain with a non select server just to purely act as a domain control.
For anyone who is not familiar with that, the domain control is basically a traffic director and it's the one who kind of manages the security policies and permission of your work stations with the office and so when they log on and they put their user name and password in, the domain controls function is really to manage that. We advocated we keep that in the mix. We leveraged a server platform known as server essentials 2012, which they required from connecting up through the donation program, which was fantastic.
For anyone who is not familiar with the server essentials product, it is a really great service solution for organizations who have 25 seats or less because it doesn't require you to purchase any additional client access licensing or [inaudible 01:07:28], which is fantastic. More importantly, it's been designed to directly integrate with Microsoft's cloud services so hosting exchange and stuff like that so there is some fantastic benefits from that point of view as well.
We did end up utilizing Office 365 for civic solutions so we implemented SharePoint on line for the document management and the access capabilities. We implemented exchange on line to handle their calendar functionality and we also introduced Microsoft Link to give them the ability to quickly communicate with their staff across different locations as well. Going down this path it obviously allowed us to remove the terminal server from the equation, which allowed us to reconfigure their internet connectivity to be more suited for the new design but it also as we reduce the, removed the terminal server and removed the large complexity out of the environment, it allowed us to [inaudible 01:08:24] and manage services agreement to be more applicable for the new solution as well.
After implementing the solution, we had some really good results, which is fantastic. The first thing is obviously to resolve their stability issues and just by implementing the new hardware and the new software solutions, we vastly improved the remote access capabilities and their ability to collaborate and with staff in different, in their second office but being able to use Link on line to potentially have their web meetings with other supply or with other organizations that they did work with as well, which is fantastic.
From a continuity point of view, once again, you know, we had the emails and the document systems stored externally in a central mutual location and what that now means is in the event that the internet connectivity does go down at the head office, it means the guys in the satellite office, the staff working, they can continue to work. It really improved their business continuity from that respect.
The biggest take away we got from this exercise for them was we were able to reduce their total cost of ownership by around about $16,000 per year simply by reducing the complexity environment and kind of being that it's not [inaudible 01:09:45] approach the managed services to support the elements and [inaudible 01:09:49] to be a solution, which is dedicated or fit into this new common role that they have within their IT environment so we definitely have had some fantastic wins there as well.
Well guys, that concludes the case study and the end of the content today. I just want to thank Fiona again for coming along and participating and answering the questions. It was really great to have you here. Thank you very much, Fiona. Thank you, Ross, for facilitating today and thank you obviously for everyone who attended. If you do have anymore questions, or have any comments that you think of after the webinar that you'd like to discuss, please feel free to reach out either by the number on screen or if you'd like to shoot me a quick email, I'd be more than happy to continue the conversation after the webinar at a later date. Ross, I will pass it back to you to close. Thank you.
Ross: Yes, thanks Tony and again, thank you very much Fiona Sims. We really did appreciate your time coming here to answer some of these questions. It really does help some of these organizations make a decision. Yeah. That's it for the webinar. What we're going to be doing is recording it and sending it out in the next day or so so if you did want to rewatch any or send it through to your colleagues, that will be made available and like Tony mentioned, if you have any extra questions, you can continue the conversation afterwards.
Tony: Excellent. Thanks Ross. Thank you everyone and please, please stay tuned to our LinkedIn and social media feeds. We'll be organizing some webinars in the not too distant future so please feel free to sign up and to participate. Thank you everyone.
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