Ask the Answer Guy – Do You Recommend Microsoft Office 365 for Mail and Office Apps?

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Dear Brent,

I’ve heard about Micorsoft Office 365, and I'm wondering if you would recommend it.

There are pros and cons to Microsoft Office 365 for mail and office applications, depending on what your needs are. Office 365 is pretty cheap and a good fit for some (albeit with very little or no tech support). But if any problems arise, that lack of tech support can raise the frustration level, and what started out as a cheap solution will soon turn very pricey, very fast. It is for these reasons we have had a number of companies move off of Office 365 and switch back to premise-based servers, and/or move to the DCG PrivateCLOUD hosted exchange offering.

DCG supports conventional premise-based exchange and office installations, Office 365 and the DCG PrivateCLOUD hosted exchange solution, so we have experience with all angles of this question. Regarding Office 365, we have a few clients who are fairly pleased with it. However those clients have not had the need for live tech support when using 365 because their needs are fairly light. The clients that DCG helped move from Office 365 to premise or DCG PrivateCLOUD solutions chose the move in part because of mail delivery and routing problems. The other reason some moved was the added cost of keeping terminated employees’ mail history on the Office365 system.

Meanwhile DCG PrivateCLOUD hosted exchange simulates the experience clients would have if they deployed their own MS Exchange server without the need to pay for hardware, software, or the expertise and labor to keep it all running. When an important message needs to be tracked or investigated, help is just a phone call away. It costs a bit more, but the client gets more with that ever-important and timely tech support.

Here is a snapshot of the pros and cons of Microsoft Office 365:

Pros

  • MS Office 365 is easily accessible, allowing users to log in from any computer or mobile device.
  • Microsoft automatically handles the updates, so you don't have to; updates to the program are done automatically by Microsoft, as are all data back-ups.
  • Office 365 is cost-effective, as it offers inexpensive packages and is accessed via the Internet, eliminating the need for costly infrastructure or technical support people.
  • Depending on how many users you have, there are multiple plans offered at different, fairly reasonable price points.

Cons

  • Accessibility to the program is entirely dependent on Microsoft's servers as well as your Internet service. If either malfunctions, you're unable to access your mail.
  • Your Internet bandwidth will effect the performance of the application. Slow Internet = slow mail.
  • There is no "live" support, so there's no one to call if there's a problem with a mail message. There is some application support, but if you have ever called Microsoft, well, you know what that can be like.
  • Many have complained about the Microsoft anti-spam agent: Most everything that comes from Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, Quest, Charter, or Time Warner gets quarantined. If your clients use "non-business" domains that are part of the large mail services mentioned above, you will spend a lot of time in the Microsoft Defender/Frontbridge anti-spam quarantine, constantly white listing people.

DCG supports clients on both MS Office 365 and DCG PrivateCLOUD Hosted Exchange. Office 365 is ok for those who don't anticipate needing much support, however those who are in need of support will be more satisfied with DCG's offering, as it comes with a comprehensive support system.


About Brent Whitfield

Brent Whitfield is CEO of DCG Technical Solutions, Inc., which provides IT Support in the Los Angeles area since 1993. DCG exists to help our clients choose, implement, and manage IT and cloud solutions that are cost effective and reliable. DCG's pro-active approach to IT is ideally suited for companies who depend on reliable IT infrastructure, but don't want to spend a lot of money to keep it that way. DCG was recognized among the Top 10 Fastest Growing MSPs in North America by MSP Mentor. Brent has been featured in Fast Company, CNBC, Network Computing, Reuters, and Yahoo Business.


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