Microsoft Australia today brought together enterprise and small business customers who are set to make the move to the new Office 365 offering, including large-scale mining company, Fortescue Metals.
Vito Forte, Fortescue Metals' chief information officer (CIO), said that the company is currently working on a plan to migrate onto Office 365 following an internal trial of several different cloud-based productivity offerings, including Google Docs.
"We're in the migration planning stage at the moment. We've got some work to do with our Active Directory, which needs a bit of a clean up.
"We had a bit of a play [with Google Apps], but again, I think ... the expectation is that it just needs to work the way that people are familiar with ... and for us, it's a bit of a no-brainer with going down the Office 365 path," Forte said at the product launch in Sydney today.
Fortescue Metals is currently a 5000-strong global miner of iron ore resources, with plans to expand its business by seven times its current size over the next five years. According to Forte, Fortescue needs to lean on strong collaboration software to hit its expansion targets.
"The whole way to build the business is going to be dependent on the really good use of technology. We're going to be utilising whatever technology is out there to make that happen, so it's going to be an interesting next few years," Forte said.
"We're trying to create a very borderless environment and the best way to do that is to run things that are now available like Office 365."
Forte said that the need for document compatibility between users is also critical to Fortescue's operations, having struggled with it in the past.
"The last thing we need to do is waste time trying to work out why someone can't read this or someone can't read that ... As an example, we had a fairly poor experience with one of our initial products when a provider didn't give us the documentation we required in an appropriate format and we ended up spending a very large amount of money and time trying to get that back into a mode that's usable in the future."
"Those sorts of things are very important that we don't hit those constraints and issues going forward," he said.
After a lengthy beta period, Microsoft today took the covers off its cloud-based Office 365 product globally, with Asia-Pacific customers set to be served out of the company's Singapore-based datacentre, although Microsoft said there was possibly scope to host data out of Australia in the future.
Office 365 contains hosted versions of Exchange, SharePoint and unified communications product, Lync, as well as a cloud-based collaborative version of the Office desktop suite. It's offering the product via Telstra's T-suite, or companies that have existing enterprise agreements with Microsoft can source the product through those agreements.
Australians are set to pay a hefty premium for the privilege of Office 365, however, after it was today revealed that local prices are up to 76 per cent higher than their US equivalents.
SBS also announced its intention to move to Office 365 today.