I had a chat with a friend of mine recently who is a Linux sys admin by trade, who was looking at Office 365 to see what all the hype was about. We had a discussion about the pricing of it and I was saying for £15.75 a month a user could get a 25 GB Mailbox on Exchange Online, SharePoint 2010 Online, Lync 2010 Online and also a licensed copy of Office 2010 Professional Plus. OK so that is £189 per user per year. When you add Windows InTune in to the equation as well about $11 a month so about £7 say, an additional £84 per user per year you’ll be looking at £273 per year per user.
My friends comment on that was within two years you could have more than likely purchased a new PC with a windows 7 license and Office 2010. Ok fair point! but could you also get yourself an enterprise email system on Exchange 2010 SharePoint 2010 and also Lync Online? with a financially backed SLA? Also how much time and money would you be spending on a) providing these systems to you end users b) managing it and c) providing continuity and DR for it? could you do that all for under £300 per user per year? realistically probably not.
The way the pricing is structured (not just Office 365 or InTune, Google Apps is a month by month subscription) makes it an OpEx (Operational Expenditure) and not a CapEx (Capital Expenditure) so rather than going to your Finance Director or who ever it is who holds the companies purse strings and say we need a couple of hundred thousands pounds to upgrade our infrastructure to provide our users with the latest cutting edge collaboration technology to improve staff productivity you only need to say we need £280 per user per year, that’s if you do not have any licensing subscription in place already. Most companies already have some sort of Microsoft Agreement in place for their desktops so if you look at what you’re spending on that already plus what you pay per user for AV then you would only need make up the difference.
I used to work for a law firm of about 160 staff ok not that big in terms of staff sizing but it required a pretty large Exchange infrastructure due to the lack of mailbox policies being applied. Ok we were running Exchange 2003 across 2 sites on a couple of HP ProLiants not breaking the bank but I looked at the cost to upgrade to 2010 before I left, to upgrade the hardware, software and also provide backup and recovery for it would have cost about £50k minimum that is with out DR. We also were looking at the option of upgrading the desktops to Windows 7 Ent and Office 2010, we were looking in the region of another £50k at least. Office 365 and Windows InTune would have cost about £50k a year and because its month by month subscription your FD would be looking at spending £3,700 a month. That is probably a bit less than what you would pay on financing the cost to upgrade everything over 2 or 3 years. It would also then open up a whole lot of new options for the firm. They could offer a first class extranet using SharePoint OnLine and not have to worry about managing external accounts as they can invite clients to access it by using a Windows Live ID. You also do not need to worry about AV as that is provided as part of InTune and also you can manage the PC’s through InTune. All this would be at no extra cost.
The thing that shocks me is the way lawyers use email, they like to store everything, even if you have something like Mimecast in the equation they like to know it is in their Inbox at all times! Office 365 offers each user a 25GB Mailbox that is 4TB of email storage for all 160 users. To provide that in house on a SAN you are looking a a small fortune even if it is only on iSCSI.
I’ve only been looking at Office 365 for about a month fully now but as you might be able to tell I am sold on it, the management of it is part of the reason why I like it so much! If Office 365 was as hard to manage as BPOS then I would be singing from a different song sheet.
For any company running an on premise exchange system and looking at upgrading I would seriously urge you to look at Office 365 it enables you to do a lot more than what you can do with office alone.