A New Microsoft Platform that Gives Small Businesses Big Business Power

By Pete Petersen, LexJet CIO

I recently attended the Microsoft Roadmap event for Microsoft Office 365, a new MS Office platform due to be released early next year that should lower the total cost of ownership for mid-sized companies and give small companies many of the same tools as larger corporations.

With the Office 365 Web Apps, you can review documents and do lightweight editing from virtually anywhere and on any device with a browser.

Rather than invest thousands of dollars in servers, backup and restore options, disaster recovery, dealing with licensing headaches and having to hire tech support companies, small businesses can focus on their company and use technology as a competitive advantage. Plus, instead of shelling out hundreds of dollars for each copy of Microsoft Office, Office 365 will be available for less than $30 per month per license.

Though you’ll most likely end up spending as much per license for Office by the end of two years in this pay-as-you-go system, Office 365 is a far more robust engine. With it, you’ll get features like SharePoint, where you can store all of your online documents; LiveMeeting, which allows you to create and share remote desktop presentations; and a hosted exchange (Exchange 2010) so you can check e-mail on the fly anywhere in the world.

Ultimately, you’ll have Business Intelligence you never had before, or had to spend an arm and a leg to get, with a big boost in reporting and data analysis capabilities. You can plug into an Excel, Access or online data source and pull and analyze data real time.

Also included will be Lync 2010, which is scheduled to be integrated into Office 365 next summer. Lync 2010 is a like a full-fledged Cisco phone system on your computer, where you’re getting basically Vonage services  with high-end call center features and voicemail built into your e-mail system.

With Office 365 you’re getting enterprise-class features in a small business world for a fraction of the price you would pay to get all of these features individually.

You can check out the new Office 365 at office365.com. I’m hoping that Microsoft will approve my beta application so I can share more insight to this powerful platform over the coming months. Stay tuned!