BPOS now or Office 365 later- you need to decide now

In this post I wanted to talk a little about how I think potential customers might feel about the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Services Suite (BPOS) offering. You see, with so many of us telling IT managers and staff that the cloud is such a perfect panacea to many of their ails and consumers using online services for just about everything, it is no wonder that Microsoft created the BPOS cloud offering.

In my last post I talked a little about Microsoft and their increased activity in the cloud and how that made me feel- very proud as it happens.

This is a service that delivers Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft Office and Microsoft SharePoint from the cloud. All of Microsoft’s core communications products, their crown jewels - outside of the OS space - delivered via the cloud.

The next evolution in this offering is nearly upon us and there is a significant facelift in the works, with a move to Exchange and Office 2010, an upgrade to SharePoint 2010 and the addition of Microsoft’s much talked about Lync communications server. Welcome to Office 365!

The Office 365 beta is already out there in production and details are starting to emerge about the transition. This got me thinking with my Sysadmin hat on- if I were thinking about buying BPOS, should I buy it now or wait until Office 365 is released?

It turns out quite an interesting strategic issue and one that needs actioning quickly if you are to take advantage of a number of things. The reason for that is new customers will get Office 365 when it's released first and existing customers will wait before it's released and then have up to a year to move- which is totally under their control. So why would you want to go to Office 365? Here are some reasons:

  • Exchange 2010 back end with significantly improved management features (a lot more control for admins)
  • Sharepoint 2010 with extended customisation
  • Office 2010 available as a web app and as an installed desktop application on a subscription
  • Lync for presence, IM, video, voice

So why would you want to sign up to BPOS now?

  • You want to stay on Exchange 2007- e.g. because Office 365 doesn't support Office 2003
  • You want to control your migration timescales

Even still, if you are waiting for Office 365 or going to BPOS, now is the perfect time to think about your migration strategy. Orlando posted on Monday about Migrations, but I can't help but agree with esteemed Exchange MVP Nic Blank when he says "Archive before you migrate" and that'll make your transition to the cloud quicker and easier. Even if you can have 25GB mailboxes- migrating them is a not a pleasant (or quick) task.

Personally, I would wait for Office 365 because we're on Office 2007 and soon to be 2010, so there are no client side issues. Plus we're already on Exchange 2010 and it wouldn't make sense to go back to 2007. Especially considering the clever things you can do with routing thanks to the CAS role in 2010 and Office 365. But that's another post.