Microsoft - A Digital (R) evolution (Re) invented

By Dhar Patadia, Global CIO, Collabera

Microsoft is deemed as traditional OS and MS Office Company in the industry. However, the business applications is one area where Microsoft has created a mark in the last few years. In the past 5 years, Microsoft with an amazing speed and agility has been able to execute cloud and digital strategies that enable its customers to benefit from the advances in technology.

Microsoft has opened up many new channels for us to communicate as a business internally and externally. With unprecedented long history of constant innovation, Microsoft software is being offered on the cloud. There have been constant updates and changes in the platform since its inception. Microsoft has changed a conservative approach acquiring and incorporating new technologies and services into its enterprise business suites.

Like most small startups and large enterprises, we have been using standard Microsoft office desktop products such as the Windows and MS Office. A rigorous re-evaluation of our office suite showed that Microsoft provided a seamless compatibility with our clients. With this, we decided to move our office suite over to the cloud version, Office 365.

Collaboration is the key to the success of any business mainly mail and communications. Office 365 has given the organization a reliable platform with little oversight from internal IT resources. Being an enterprise with over 2500 users of the products, the move was challenging. Nevertheless, the transition was accomplished with minimum impact on the business. The SLAs committed by Microsoft have been kept and availability of the platform has been steady. Managing licensing and updates through the tools provided was convenient.

In addition to providing new software in the subscription, deployment is also made available in web browsers. This has given us the ability to explore alternatives to devices used by employees all over the organization and keep the lines of communications open. The seamless experience on tablets / phones / laptops / desktops is consistent and excellent! Microsoft has been able to tightly integrate all of its communication and collaboration platforms on Office 365.

The Journey 

Having an enterprise with thousands of users, a forklift upgrade was out of the question as it would cause too many disruptions to the business. The approach chosen was hybrid configurations, which enabled moving users in clusters and preserve the way they currently function. This is one of the main reasons for our success. The key element to move first and ensure reliability was E-mail. Most users were unaware that the mail service was now in the cloud. Microsoft has given many options on how things are setup for the infrastructure as well as the backend mail engine. As we moved batches over we gained more proficiency and accuracy in terms of ensuring a seamless move. With the Hybrid infrastructure, we were able to maintain our Active Directory infrastructure and ensured that we incorporate federated services for security so that it can be managed through existing tools with minimal change. 

The Challenge

Some of the challenges of moving to a service like office 365 include costs, paradigm shifts and user realignment. The good and bad about the costs is that, you pay for each user license as opposed to seat licenses combined with the complexity of the different plans that are provided to the users. The costs will only increase as you become locked into the infrastructure and want to drink more and more of the “KoolAide” that Microsoft is selling with its platform. The other challenge is that the data is no longer under your control. This can have negative connotations when it comes to security, backup and overall control. You are tied into the platforms capabilities in all of these areas and have to be very careful and understand the ways it can impact your business. It is wise that the proper homework is done with the concurrence of the decision makers in the organization. Another big challenge is to educate the older employees within the organization. They might be more resistant to change and giving up controls that they used to enjoy. It is a necessity in order for organizations to achieve a higher level of communications and utilization of the newest technologies. These advances will only lead to improved productivity. 

The Conclusion

The digital transformation that can be achieved with the current office 365 is a testament to what can be done quickly with little or no owned infrastructure. Scalability and robustness of the platform is truly amazing and also the state of the art technology. The competitors have a disadvantage as users in larger corporations that always used the traditional desktop office suite will find a very comfortable home in the cloud. The strides in the cloud that have been made by Microsoft are tremendous and scale very well beyond just the office suite extending their reach far into the enterprises. Microsoft has already shown that it is a dominant force in the cloud space and has built up all the tools needed to succeed and take businesses along with them.

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