Over the period of this Office 365 project, we've had the chance meet several vendors and users of Office 365.
Just as the original spreadsheet has evolved beyond a simple automatic calculator in ways that the inventors could never have perceived it would, companies using Office 365 are also evolving and customising the Microsoft cloud offering to a valuable tool beyond the marketing hype.
Therfe is the Danish Red Cross who work in environments where at times, every second could mean life or death to a person, then there are companies such as iLuka that provide consulting and services for major events such as the UK Olympics whose staff head count varies rapidly from 100 to 1,000 depending on the event and the services being offered. Finally there are major organisations, government initiatives and large educational implementations such as the 4.3 million Catholic students and the Indian Government initiative.
Some of these uses and benefits, include the ability to instantly provision the complete Microsoft offering for a few pounds per month for temporary employees. A massive saving for companies such as iLuka when you consider that it has 900 plus temproary employees during the UK Olympics. Imagine the extra cost for buying Office 2010 licenses for each employee together with the provision of server hardware to handle the extra load. All of that disappears with Office 365.
Education is another area that is mixing and matching plans. The basic Office 365 webapps and email is free for students that aren't focused on technology. Those students that are pursuing careers in business and other similar areas can pay a small amount for Office 365 plans which contain the frontend and backend components that are relevant to their studies.
From a usage perspective, imagine having a dignitary, personality, or famous business person such as Bill Gates, come and give a talk to all students, in each school around the world, at the same time via some of the Office 365 components.
For many enterprise companies, Office 365 cannot work for them without some hybrid environment (i.e. integrating Office 365 with their on-premise systems). Hybrid environments still have server and hardware issues albeit diminished. To totally remove the majority of on-premise hardware issues, organisations such as the Catholic School initiative, have invested in a backend environment being placed into Microsoft's Azure and integrating their Azure environment with Office 365 - a total hybrid in the cloud!
Do have a read of the case studies on the ITProPortal website and those listed in the Microsoft Press Centre, these case studies will bypass the marketing hype and better give you ideas on how best your business can take advantage of the Office 365 offering.