Major New Customers for Microsoft’s Office 365


Microsoft has been courting businesses both large and small with their cloud offering Office 365. Their latest big new customers who have made the switch are JetBlue, Patagonia, and the American Heart Association.

Each of these new customers are very different, but they all need to increase collaboration, communication, and teamwork within their organizations. Each also recognized the potential for increased reliability and efficiency along with decreased costs promised by the Cloud.

Microsoft Office 365, launched June 2010, has Microsoft Office along with popular server productivity and communication tools that have been a mainstay of large enterprises for years including Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync. Before Office 365, the prohibitive expense of deploying these server tools in-house had prevented all but the largest organizations from deploying them.

Plans for Office 365 start at $6 per user per month and range up to $27 per user per month for the Enterprise Edition, which includes the full desktop edition of Microsoft Office and SSL-Encrypted Intranet.

Although Microsoft Office 365 is primarily geared towards small businesses, many large businesses including Campbell Soup Company and publisher Group Marie-Claire have implemented it.

The American Heart Association, a grant-making not-for-profit that funds research into heart disease, has two data centers in the Dallas area, but is still anticipating cost savings by switching to Office 365. According to the American Heart Association’s CIO Michael Wilson, “The total cost of ownership is significantly cheaper.” He went on to say that he believes that the cost of the AHA’s collaboration and E-Mail will be about 50% less

Wilson estimates that Office 365 will reduce his organization’s email and collaboration costs by as much as 50% annually, compared to operating Exchange servers internally. Patagonia officials said their company expects to save $300,000 on future upgrades by moving to Microsoft’s cloud, and shave $15,000 off annual operating costs.

Beyond the cost savings, Wilson sees other advantages in moving to the cloud. “The ability not to have to upgrade to take advantage of new functions is huge,” he said. “And we get a radical upgrade in storage space.” AHA’s plan gives each of the company’s 3,000 employees 25 GB of storage space.

In addition to Outlook and Lync for email and collaboration, AHA will eventually adopt Office 365’s cloud-based versions of Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. The organization is also ditching Oracle’s Siebel CRM tools in favor of Microsoft Dynamics. “We’re going strictly cloud,” said Wilson.

Wilson said American Heart Association took a long look at Google Apps before deciding to go with Office 365. Ultimately he wasn’t comfortable with the search giant’s privacy assurances. “Google changes their privacy agreements for a lot of different reasons, just like Facebook. Some of them appear to be commercially oriented, and that concerned us,” he said.

Competitor Google Apps claims that they have millions of users. While a Microsoft spokesperson wouldn’t say how many organizations or users are on Office 365, he did say that it “is on track to be one of the fastest growing business offers in Microsoft history.”

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