For as long as I can remember the norm has been for a business to buy a server to house the company’s documents, spreadsheets, images and other files. The common scenario is: The business has a server that usually sits within the office and computers connect to it to access company files. The business invests capital in this server, then replaces it every 3-4 years, often after some kind of problem that unexpectedly occurred.
If you have a server like this, there’s a good chance that your IT person, or IT services provider, has setup a method for you to be able to login remotely via a “Remote Desktop” or “VPN” so you can work on your company files from other locations, when not in the office. This probably works ok, although you probably find it a bit slow or problematic from time to time.
And, if IT is mission critical for your business, you may have invested extra dollars in multiple file servers so that if one goes down, the other one keeps your business operational.
I think it all requires too much effort and it sounds a bit complicated.
Now there is a better way for businesses – Have you heard of Office 365 SharePoint?
Office 365 is Microsoft’s key suite of cloud productivity programs and apps, including Microsoft Office, Outlook, Skype for business and OneDrive. It’s a bundle of products that can deliver a whole range of functions to your business, one of which is its corporate file management solution, based on SharePoint.
Office 365 SharePoint provides all the features of a traditional file server including custom permissions and security groups, however adds a whole range of new-age, easy to use cloud features such as the ability for company files to be accessed on any device, from any location, without the traditional slowness that comes with having your own file server. Because Office 365 SharePoint is a cloud service, it’s automatically updated for you over time, with all the latest features. For example, recently they introduced a new feature that allows multiple users to work on the same document at the same time.
It’s a bit like a personal DropBox, except packed with all the features you need in a corporate environment, such as structured permissions, groups, file retention and even advanced features like document approval.
A brief comparison…Your traditional file server vs Office 365 SharePoint
|Traditional File Server
|Office 365 SharePoint
|Upgrades and enhancements
|Your business generally chooses to upgrade every few years when ready to commit to the process and cost.
|Latest updates are gradually released for you over time. SharePoint is automatically updated. If you use Office on your desktop, you can choose when to install the available update.
|VPN or remote desktop can be setup
|Built-in access to your files using Microsoft Office applications from any device – computer, laptop, tablet or mobile supporting Apple IOS, Android, Windows Mobile.
|Document Management features
|Folder permissions can be set
|Folder permissions can be setup plus enhanced document management features can be enabled, such as access to previous file versions document approvals and ability to file your documents against predefined categories.
|Predominant expenditure model
|Subscription / Opex
|Buy a server that is big enough or that is capable of being upgraded to cater for your growth requirements.
|Subscription model – pay per month based on the users you have active.
|Not dependent on internet to function.
|Accessibility to your files is dependent on your internet connection. Reliable internet connection is recommended (pricing is coming down). For a larger business, recommend a basic backup internet connection with auto-failover as a precaution.
|Provides comfort of having your files located in your own office. Reliant on you to keep up to date with the latest security threats, relevant updates and patches.
|Comfort level required to have your business run from the cloud. Solution is managed by MS Microsoft including their latest security systems, and a 99.9% financially backed uptime guarantee.
So how does it work?
- Make sure you have a reasonable internet connection at the office and sign up for Office 365
- Move your business files to the Office 365 SharePoint cloud location
- Get SharePoint setup with your relevant file security permissions
- Point your Microsoft products to Office 365 (we recommend Office 2013 or above)
- Get rid of your file server and delete the next server upgrade from your budget
Increased business adoption ahead! Office 365 SharePoint is just the beginning!
More and more businesses are leveraging Microsoft’s cloud subscription services, instead of paying outright for Microsoft licensing. It’s pretty well guaranteed that your business will work from the cloud in the future, and there’s are pretty high chance that it will be through Microsoft Office 365.
Morgan Stanley predicts that Microsoft cloud services including Office 365 will increase from 11% of Microsoft’s over revenue in 2015 to 30% by 2018
In its infancy, Office 365 SharePoint does a lot to improve the way you work, so we recommend starting off simple to gain these immediate benefits to your business. However, once you get into it, there’s much more you can do and the ways you can expand the product usage and features are almost limitless. Office 365 SharePoint can do so much more once you get into it. Here are some of the additional features you can optionally begin utilising down the track, once you’ve taken the first step:
- Access all previous document revisions
- Create lists to keep track of your team’s work (and yours!)
- Automate functions in your business using workflow rules
- Create an effective central intranet hub for your company that you can easily administer yourself
- As your use of the system develops you can even optionally build in more advanced functions such as Power BI which allows you to publish key business metrics to the team
If you are unsure about Office 365, or SharePoint for your business and would like to discuss your requirements with one of our IT consultants, contact us on 1300 991 351 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org. Our consultants are highly experienced and can do an evaluation of your systems to advise if the solution is suited for your requirements.