According to Microsoft, Office 365 is on track to become one of the fastest growing offers in the vendor's history. The software suite offers Exchange, SharePoint and Lync, coupled with Office applications as a cloud service. The enterprise-grade service is gaining good ground four times faster as compared to its predecessor Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) in India.
Ramkumar Pichai, general manager of Microsoft India's Office division, informed me that there is strong appetite in the market, even among the smallest businesses, to access powerful productivity and collaboration tools. "Adoption is not only strong among enterprise customers with companies like Toyota, Tata Elxsi, Infiniti Retail, Unilog and Dabur, a majority of customers are small to midsize businesses (SMBs) with fewer than 1,000 employees," Pichai said.
The per-user-per-month subscription model provides great value for SMBs, many of which do not have an IT infrastructure in place. Office 365 offers a 99.9 percent uptime guarantee with a financially backed SLA (service level agreement). The service offerings range from US$2 to $24 per user per month, depending on the options the customer wants. Microsoft recently announced SMBs can avail a 90-day free trial offer with up to 10 users through the month of February. In addition, SMBs that purchase and activate a copy of Microsoft Office Home & Business 2010 or Professional 2010, will receive a 90-day trial of Office 365 Small Business Premium for up to five users.
Small businesses considering a move to the cloud are increasingly choosing the Microsoft service over rival Google Apps. For businesses that are more used to mail messaging, Web conferencing, and collaboration, Office 365 is probably the more comprehensive choice. Several organizations like GAVS Technologies, SIRO Clinpharm, and FICCI have chosen Office 365 after evaluating Office 365 and Google Apps.
FICCI, for example, evaluated hosted solutions from Google, IBM and Microsoft through an in-depth market survey and feasibility study, and found the best fit in Microsoft Office 365. The apex business organization completely migrated to the cloud across its domestic as well as international offices. Rajiv Mishra, FICCI's additional director and head of IT, elaborated on the decision: "We looked for ways to deliver cloud on our terms along with enterprise-class security, thereby, reducing capex. Office 365 emerged a better fit with our overall IT strategy as it is much more integrated and advanced than Google Apps, and offers more of the functionality our employees need. Combined with the extended functionality in Lync Online, Office 365 offers much more enterprise value than Google."
For Microsoft, there have been customer wins like Visaka Industries and Strateology which have moved from Google Apps to Office 365. Strateology, for one, has been using Office 365 since May 2010 as a beta and observing a significant benefit and boost in team productivity and project efficiency. It subscribed to the production version when it was launched.
Krishna Moorthi, president of IT at Visaka Industries, said: "The move to Office 365 has been remarkable so far as it brings cloud versions of Microsoft's familiar Office productivity solutions, enabling our employees to start using the services immediately. We were also able to switch our employees from Google Apps to Office 365 services in a short span of time, with no downtime. Microsoft Office 365 clearly outshines Google Apps not only in ease of use but also in terms of reliability and manageability."
Recently, India's leading telecom player Bharti Airtel, tied up with Microsoft to deliver Office 365 business productivity solutions to SMBs by provisioning the service through its cloud platform. Airtel will provide SMBs with access to Microsoft Office 365 along with their DSL and Internet leased line services.