Think of Office 365 as our small business alternative to expensive servers, software and maintenance. Office 365 can be used by one to hundreds of people in business at a very reasonable price point. To give you a quick look, here’s a synopsis of what you’ll get:
Office 365 Benefits
- Access to Office web apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint & OneNote). Share and collaborate in real time with co-workers or anyone you give permissions to. Bonus: anyone has access to Microsoft web apps even if they don’t have Office on their local computer
- Plenty of storage. I haven’t seen the exact amount, but I believe it’s 10GB for O365 accounts. Here’s what I’ve seen
- Sync up to 20,000 items in your SkyDrive Pro library, including files and folders
- Sync up to 5,000 items in other SharePoint libraries, including folders and files
- Ability to download files up to 2GB
- With SkyDrive Pro and SharePoint, you’ll have access to folders locally on your computer in addition to access from any connected computer and many devices (tablets, phones)
- For small companies, the SharePoint interface means you can set up team sites where employees can log in to access and check out documents
- Newsfeed-share, follow and keep up with teams, projects, etc. with this feature (newsfeed is an internal feature where employees can follow people or projects)
- You’re automatically upgraded and using the latest versions of Office
Storing and Sharing Documents
SkyDrive Pro lets you sync your SkyDrive library or other SharePoint libraries on team sites to your computer. You can then work with files in these libraries directly in Windows Explorer. You can access these files even when you’re offline. Updates to files sync with SharePoint whenever you’re online. This is from The Office website. The SkyDrive Pro feature allows you and your employees the ability to work on documents locally on your computer and then they will sync up the next time you’re on-line.
The O365 admin controls what is put in the ‘Team Site’ and who has access to the team site. That means certain employees have access to folders or libraries and some folders/libraries can be accessed only by the admin.
The below is copied directly from the link above. So many people are confused about SkyDrive Pro and SharePoint, that I wanted to give you what Microsoft wrote
SkyDrive Pro is your professional library—the place to keep your work documents and other files. You can think of SkyDrive Pro as your SkyDrive for business. When you store your files on SkyDrive Pro, only you can see them, but you can easily share them with co-workers and access them from your mobile devices. Your files are safely kept in the cloud with SharePoint Online or on your company’s SharePoint Server 2013 servers, depending on what your company has set up.
SkyDrive Pro lets you:
- Store and organize your private documents and other files in a secure location in the cloud or on your company’s SharePoint servers.
- Share files and folders with other people in your organization and give them permission to review or edit the content.
- Synchronize files and folders in your SkyDrive Pro and other SharePoint libraries with your computer or mobile devices, so you can access your content offline. end of quote from Microsoft
How does SkyDrive Pro differ from SkyDrive?
Again, I’ve taken this from the Microsoft website: Here’s the difference:
- SkyDrive is free online storage that provides you with a personal library where you can upload and access files from any of your devices. Download one of the SkyDrive apps and you can easily save your documents, photos, and other files in this library, share them with friends, and even collaborate on content. For more information about using SkyDrive, see Work together on Office documents in SkyDrive.
- SkyDrive Pro provides you with a personal library for business, where you can upload and access documents, photos, and other files from your computer. This SkyDrive Pro library is managed by your organization and from there you can easily share and collaborate on content with co-workers. In addition, with the SkyDrive Pro client application, you can synchronize library files and folders with your local computer. (End of Microsoft quote.)
The New Dashboard Look On-Line
Here is a look at what current O365 user’s on-line Dashboard will look like. Click the image and you’ll be taken to my friend Todd Klindt’s SharePoint blog where you can read about Share-Point-y stuff. In the article this links to, he is talking about SharePoint 2013 and SkyDrive Pro-fascinating reading .
Below is what my current Dashboard looks like. I will be glad to get the navigation links (Newsfeed, SkyDrive, Sites) that Todd has. I think I’ll also get a link to email in my dashboard.
It All Boils Down To
- Secure storage for your business documents
- Ability to share entire folders, or individual documents with clients
- The admin has the ability to set up library/folder sharing for employees
- With SkyDrive Pro, your professional documents are available when you’re off-line and they’ll sync up when you’re back on-line
- If your company has a server at the office, employees usually won’t have after-hours access to them from their home computers. With Office 365, they can have access to documents from anywhere with an internet connection. Documents are available on smart phones or tablets (Android & Apple) with the Sky Drive apps for smart phones
We haven’t talked about all the different plans and pricing. There are a number of packages – you can look at them here. I’m getting along very well with the $6/month Small Business plan. There was a 30-day free trial with all plans, but now I see the trial is available only for the most expensive plan.
Consider what you get vs. what you have now. Do you now have mail that syncs across all your devices, do you have secure storage and anywhere access to your documents, would you like to have video conferencing, chat and file exchange with Lync? Since I manage my office set-up, things have been much easier since I switched to Office 365.