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Microsoft Focuses on SharePoint Online

A recent video interview with John Thompson, Microsoft’s new Chairman on Bloomberg TV, captures Mr. Thompson’s sharp attention to Office 365 as “one of the most successful new products in Microsoft’s history” (quoted from the interview).

Mia Saini, who led the interview, set the stage for Mr. Thompson’s comment when she noted the explosive sales growth of cloud solutions. SharePoint Online is one of the components of Microsoft’s Office 365 offer. SharePoint-Videos.com offers a video training set specifically optimized for SharePoint 2013 end users, which can be successfully used to support communities opting for SharePoint Online, via Office 365.

One can successfully argue implementation costs, for Office 365, are substantially less expensive than the case for on premise computing systems delivering comparable performance. All costs are charged on a per user subscription basis. Server administration is entirely handled by Microsoft, directly (SharePoint administration, for the Office 365 consumer, happens, almost entirely, at a Site Collection level).

The biggest impediment, for most enterprise businesses considering Office 365, can be found in public discussions about online security. Office 365 is a suite of Software as a Service (SaaS) offers. Ostensibly the same well publicized vulnerabilities endemic to an ever growing set of SaaS offers (including Amazon.com, and even Apple’s iCloud, albeit several years back) should be true for Office 365. So enterprise business has been slow to embrace pure cloud offers, opting, instead, for either pure, on premise computing, or a hybrid combination of both.

Seen from this perspective, if Mr. Thompson, and Microsoft’s new CEO, Satya Nadella, plan on magnetizing more Office 365 consumers from enterprise business, the task will be very challenging. But the upside will certainly, at the same time, be very promising. Most of Office 365 consumers, to date, have come from the small to medium size business sector. Adding in any significant penetration of enterprise business markets will, certainly, amount to a big win for Microsoft. Of even greater importance, this win will demonstration an evolutionary path for Microsoft, from the predominant supplier of PC desktop computing solutions to a comparable role for new, explosive SaaS markets.
This week’s SharePoint Conference, 2014, includes a number of presentations on the online security features of Office 365. It will be interesting to gauge enterprise business response to what they hear in Las Vegas

Ira Michael Blonder

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