iStock 000018597462XSmallChances are, you use Microsoft Office at work, at home, or both. As the current trends have it, just about every type of functional application has a counterpart in the cloud. Such is the case of Microsoft Office 365, a subscription based service that offers the perks of Office Professional, MS Exchange, SharePoint, and the Lync communications server all within a Software-as-a-Service model.

If you or your business is thinking of moving to Microsoft Office 365, all of the same decisions associated with moving from a facility based to a cloud-based system are in play. Just as outsourcing your data to the cloud comes with pros and cons, so does switching to Microsoft’s new office system. The decision, of course, relies on factors such as increased efficiency, security and, of course, keeping pace with progress. Turning to a subscription-based model rather than rely on in-house Office software has the following pros and cons attached.

Pros:

  • If you’re connected to the Internet, there is no additional investment in infrastructure required. Forget the number crunching needed for bringing in new equipment, software, and support staff. Also, the plan works by paying for what you use, so the business becomes much less expensive to operate.
  • If it breaks, you don’t have to fix it. Microsoft will address any issues that come up and automatically perform any updates to the software on their servers.
  • Documents can be shared across the company, and any changes made by individual users are automatically tracked and accounted for. Communication is also aided by messaging and audio/video conferencing features available through the Lync 2010 client.
  • You can access Office 365 just by logging in, whether it is from a computer or mobile device. Its features are available any time, even over Wi-Fi, and through any Web browser.
  • All data are backed up and accessible just by logging in. There are no warm up time or server management issues to worry about.

Cons:

  • Relying on the Internet is usually not a bad thing. With Office 365, however, if your Internet service goes down, then you can’t access any of its features. Your software and data would be unavailable in this case.
  • If Microsoft’s servers go down, the same will be true. While the company guarantees its system will be up 99.9% of the time, you have no control if there is a problem on the other end of the connection.
  • Home Internet connections with slower bandwidth may not have access to higher-productivity features of Microsoft Office 365, and may run the application slower overall.

Office 365 follows the natural progression of business applications being accessible via the cloud. If you’re comfortable with having data stored off-premise, and with less overhead when it comes to infrastructure, then a subscription can benefit you. Plus, for those users with extremely sensitive data, Microsoft offers a licensing option for on-site storage if you still want to jump on board. Weigh what works and what doesn’t, and you should have a good idea if Microsoft Office 365 is the right switch.