Cloud technology is changing the business landscape faster than ever. In these times of COVID-19, millions of people worldwide are using cloud services, to work safely from home. There are many examples of cloud services such as iCloud, Google Cloud, and Amazon Web Services. But for many public and private-sector businesses and organisations, Microsoft 365 will be the main cloud-based solution for delivering the services required, to meet customer demands and remain competitive.
Microsoft 365 cannot be categorized as a single product. Instead it is a combination of Windows 10 Enterprise for desktops, Office 365 for creating files, and Enterprise Mobility & Security for device management, security and threat protection. This means Microsoft 365 brings and integrates all three together, to provide a comprehensive subscription-based service to enterprise clients, that are cloud hosted on their behalf by Microsoft, which is also known as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). When combined, Microsoft 365 provides a flexible, secure, and on-demand cloud-based solution for businesses to operate continually, through the technical capabilities provided below.
- The ability to work from anywhere safely and securely.
- Always-on cloud services such as Microsoft Teams, OneDrive, and desktop applications provided by Office 365 (i.e. Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, Publisher and Outlook).
- Intelligent security and management features to protect your organisation’s 365 platform, such as Microsoft Cloud App Security, Azure Active Directory, Advanced Threat Analytics amongst other features.
- Management of mobile devices using Microsoft Intune.
- Collaboration with other people by using Microsoft Teams to share files, chat, hold online meetings, make calls and more.
As well as the benefits provided by Microsoft 365, there are other important aspects related to implementation that businesses need to consider.
- Whilst you do not need to be connected to the Internet to use the Office 365 applications on a PC, an Internet connection is required to get the latest updates and releases.
- Microsoft 365 is subscription-based with different volume licences, for enterprises, businesses and other organisations.
- Not all essential business resources may be suitable for cloud hosting, as some in-house legacy business applications that are hosted locally may not be compatible with Microsoft 365.
- Only a small amount of Microsoft 365’s functionality is used by businesses.
- The features in Microsoft 365 change frequently.
With the cloud capabilities provided by Microsoft 365, businesses can move away from traditional in-house locally hosted data centres, to a more cloud-based setup offering greater agile and flexible working. An example of this is using VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) to remotely access a corporate virtual environment, through a secure and authenticated Internet connection using any desktop PC, tablet, or laptop. This means that rather having to deploy multiple physical desktops with a full software installation, businesses can instead use PCs that have a minimum build specification and Internet connection to access their virtual desktop environment and applications. In addition, users can also authenticate and remotely connect to a VDI environment from their own personal device.
Cloud services such as Microsoft 365 represent the future of how businesses will manage and provide IT services. With more people working from home and away from the office before, during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of businesses and other organisations are evolving their delivery models, to adapt to these changing environments, whilst providing on-demand services required to continue functioning. This is what the cloud is delivering upon, and Microsoft 365 is playing an important part in this, and will continue to evolve and do so in the future.
In conclusion, the last few months have shown the importance of learning and adapting to new technologies and ways of working. This means businesses, organisations, and individuals must learn, adapt, and embrace what Microsoft 365 has to offer, as for many it will be the difference between surviving and prospering in the new normal, or falling by the wayside.
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