I decided some months ago to delete all old posts about Office 365 and Sharepoint 2003/2007/2010/2013 that I’ve written throughout the years. It’s a huge undertaking to try to keep up with all the new solutions Microsoft ships to the market, and most of it the news are covered by Microsoft themselves on the products and solutions pages on Technet and MSDN, and all the other sites covering all Microsofts offerings. What remains is a new short text about Microsoft’s Android apps. However, I decided to add this very simplified view on what I think would be a good approach for some companies and other organizations on Office365 and some other technologies, and their status as per now in April 2016.
A company have what most companies have – they have Office2010, some users have a private Office2013, they have several Sharepoint solutions built on Sharepoint 2007, 2010, 2013 and the IT guys have tried Office365 and played with Azure and they think it’s looking ok, but they don’t have the focus, time or budget to go for it. On top of that, their users are busy doing business and don’t really want anyone to touch the things that work. Most users use different tablets and smartphones, mostly for private stuff, but sometimes also for business documents. They have a lot of customers around the globe, and they have some offices in other countries.
There are some problems with this, no matter what company we are talking about. Support and security updates are no longer provided for Sharepoint 2007 and Sharepoint 2010. Microsoft do have a lifecycle policy in place for every product and solution, and it clearly states when the products will no longer receive updates and support. Same goes for older Office versions. After the security updates stop to arrive, security is at risk and the risks becomes higher every day, week and month. Users have solutions that are not compatible. The infrastructure is as old as the solutions, and also poses a risk because hard discs have a limited lifetime and infrastructure needs maintenance, like a qualified staff and a physical environment, server space and physical security. In regards of tablets and smartphones, there are no security policies in place, so if a smartphone is stolen or lost, then the data and documents on the device are in the hands of the person who have control over it. If that’s IP, intellectual property, owned by the company, then I’ll bet that the responsible employee would not reveal what happened. Because he or she would probably lose his or hers job.
Enter April 2016
Sharepoint 2016 have been released, and Office365 have the full Sharepoint implemented in it. Office, with Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint and much more is running in the cloud as Office365, and also on Android and Apple devices. Documents show up automagically on the devices because you log into Office, and your profile will get you access to all your documents wherever you are, and whenever you need them. It’s a 24/7 access, and you can also get access offline if you need to. Gone is the underlying infrastructure because you store your documents in the cloud. Gone is also the need for future big upgrades because Microsoft will push updates incrementally, the same way as apps and Windows are updated automatically. Azure can replace all your infrastructure and provides you with an updated AD for authorization and authentication.
For this scenario, the company that needs to go from A to B, my overall strategy would be as follows.
Many companies would go the easy route here: employ a superhero, let him fix the migrations from MOSS 2007 to SP 2010, and then to SP2013, and then maybe to 2016 and maybe parts of the solutions to O365, and we’ll take it from there. However, that reasoning excludes the bigger scope: all the features and bits and pieces that come’s with Office365, and they are not counted as hundreds, but tens of thousands of functions and bits and pieces. The structure in Sharepoint also changed between the versions. If you have stuff in MOSS 2007 and you want it to be exactly the same in 2016 and O365 – then I’m sorry because IT has never been about keeping things the same for decades. Office 365 is a new structure and a new game, but you will understand everything anyway because Office is Office. It’s just that it’s grown up now, and behaves like a 30-year-old, rather than a 15-year-old and that it has a lot of makeup that makes it look, feel and work better. It also has a lot of perks in compatibility, and you can access your documents and work areas whenever you want and wherever you are. The conclusion I will make in most situations is that this is a project that not only should gather requirements but first of all, be a top-down project implementing what comes with Office365, and the break down the project to pieces and work on a few pieces at a time. Doing that includes setting up the Active Directory to be compliant with the cloud and multi-factor authentication, migrating e-mail to Office365 Exchange/Outlook, and then go ahead with the Office365 Fasttrack. This is about real architecture work on a high-level, because it will affect other systems as well.
Other solutions in the strategy
EMS with Intune is the Microsoft solution for devices management. Or as Microsoft defines it: ‘Microsoft Intune provides mobile device management, mobile application management, and PC management capabilities from the cloud. Using Intune, organizations can provide their employees with access to corporate applications, data, and resources from virtually anywhere on almost any device while helping to keep corporate information secure.’. This is serious stuff when it comes to security because the costs for leaking valuable data could become significant. What Microsoft has done the last years in regards of security is a huge leap forward. The cloud is much safer than having an on-premises solution because Microsoft have had the resources and continuously have the skillset to be world-class in security 24/7. I don’t write that as a sales pitch, I write that because I buy into the certifications Microsoft has taken in security and because they have thousands of employees and partners that are standing on their toes all the time. Almost everything is now encrypted, and if not, then it’s going to be. Other solutions to bear in mind is integration of Dynamics NAV, Microsoft CRM and Dynamics AX into Office365, and migrate DotNet-based applications to Sharepoint.
it’s important to understand the licensing situation. It always depends on what’s in place previously, so it’s hard to define here, except for the plans in the new Office365 subscription model. A benefit with a Office365 subscription is the possibility to scale up and down instantly.
to include the above applications, solutions, and technologies in a migration project require a little bit broader perspective when planning migrations and gathering user requirements. If the organization has Sharepoint 2007/2010/2013 and plan to move on, do consider Azure, Office365, EMS including Exchange, and maybe even Skype for Bussiness (former Lync). Consider a top-down approach for step one for those solutions, and then migrate documents from the old solutions. The most important message to your user is: this is a restart, and things will change. Then go for an iterative approach building new functions, sites and a new structure as required by your users needs.
Understanding Microsoft is a plus, and doing continuous learning on Microsoft Virtual Academy is important. Some of the basic knowledge needed is documented in Microsofts learning course program for Office365. Courses I’ve taken is here. Profitability pinpoints are here.