4 August 2016
Last week I kicked up some dust talking about Office 365, ransomware and how to protect yourself. You can find that post here. The post makes Office 365 sound like it is vulnerable and maybe not the way to go. Nothing could be further from the truth and an experience today with one of our customers bears that out.
For businesses too small to have their own email server the choices are fairly limited or were before Microsoft finally got their tech together.
The first choice is to use personal email exemplified by Yahoo.com, Gmail.com, and (shudder) AOL.com. I’ve seen a lot of businesses who appear to be professional until I look at the email address on their card and it is a Yahoo email. The email address undercuts what they are spending time and resources trying to accomplish.
The next step up is better from an image viewpoint but has its own hazards. The business gets their own domain (such as FCOFG.COM) and works with GoDaddy or some similar company to host their email. The upside of this is that they can now have a professional looking email account (email@example.com, for instance). However the hosting entity is frequently not as professional as they could be. The available storage can be pretty limited and the security is sometimes questionable. Spam is nearly always a huge problem. And unless everything is correctly set up the risk of data loss can be high.
The next choice is Google Apps. As a company we went down that road before Office 365 came of age and it worked fairly well. It integrates with Outlook, has an exceptionally high level of uptime, and is very secure. The Gmail portion has excellent spam filtering which, since the level of spam in the email world is still around 56% according to Statistica, is fairly important. But with Google Apps you get a less than fully functional version of Word and Excel. For use within the company this is fine and Google drive is outstanding for internal collaboration. Absolutely the best. But once you attempt to exchange those spreadsheets with someone who has the full version of Excel there can be some problems.
After a few years with Google Apps we migrated our domain to Office 365 and haven’t looked back. I know this is a shocker so hang on. Microsoft is not perfect. There, I’ve said it. But Office 365 is damn good. It is software as a service. Pay by the month for whatever service your company needs. Just want email? $5/month. Want the whole Office suite plus email? $12.50/month (there are other variables for different costs). Updates are automatic and for the most part flow well. The spam filtering rivals Gmail. And for $30 per year per email account through a separate vendor your business email can be permanently backed up.
I’ve got Outlook and all of the Office apps on my PC, my laptop and my Android phone. They work perfectly on all. The integrated and included One Drive is coming along. Microsoft really did a poor job putting together its version of synchronized storage (comparable to Dropbox or Box or Google Drive, etc) but they are finally working out the kinks and of course it is integrated with all of their other apps so it is easy to use.
We sell and manage Office 365 for our customers. The margin is small so this is less of a sales pitch than a pitch for company professionalism. Even the smallest company can afford the same email platform used by enterprise corporations. Being professional, secure and efficient has never been easier and more available.