Office 365 is an online cloud based offering from Microsoft that allows small to medium sized businesses as well as enterprises to carry out their day to day word and data processing, collaboration and communication without the need to invest in heavy infrastructure. There are several features in Office 365, but few key points are worth mentioning.
When cloud computing services are offered, the first and foremost concern of all prospective clients is the Security aspect of the service. With this in mind Microsoft uses 128 bit SSL/TLS encryption to encrypt the data transmission from its servers in the cloud to the browser of the users. Microsoft also provides protection against malware and spam through the Forefront Exchange Online Protection. The virus protection comprises of various different antivirus engines. Microsoft carries out continuous security audits and any suspicious activities are reported and responded to within allowable time limits. More information can be obtained from Office365 information page.
Organisations with physical infrastructure and management systems in place always are concerned of the effectiveness of their management system and their compliance status once they migrate to the cloud. Microsoft through Office 365 has taken due care of this arena and has procured the ISO 27001 certification. Microsoft has also completed the SAS70 Type 1 and 2 Audits. Through Office 365 Microsoft has also added controls that would allow its customers to prove their compliance to HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and FERPA (Family Education Rights and Privacy Act).
With Office 365 Microsoft has taken care of the fact that many a times upgrades to desktops or laptops are not possible. Not every organisation would have the resources to upgrade their systems to the latest operating systems. To suffice the needs of organisations across the spectrum, Office 365 has been made compatible to Windows 7 and Windows Vista (SP2), Windows XP SP3, Windows XP Home and Window XP Media Centre Edition. Mac is also supported with Mac OS X 10.5 and OS X 10.6. In regards to the browsers that might be used, all the widely used and known browsers are supported which include Internet Explorer 7 and higher, Firefox 3.x and higher, Chrome 3.x and higher, Safari 3.x along with Apple Outlook Web Application.
Single Sign On (SSO)
if your network is running on Active Directory based on Windows Server 2008, then Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS) can be configured which would allow for authentication to Office 365 automatically once the users logon to the domain.
Latest & Greatest Microsoft Applications
Office 365 has been built keeping in mind the advanced needs of the organisations today and hence Microsoft has incorporated only the latest editions of all its component apps. Exchange 2010 for email services, SharePoint 2010 for hosting and sharing of information across the web and internal users in an organisation, Lync client is 2010 edition that would allow for online voice and video communications, messaging, etc and finally Office Professional Plus 2010 for word and data processing capabilities.