Coming June Microsoft will publicly launch Office 365. This software as a service platform is previously known as the Business Productivity Online Suite, or BPOS.
In Office 365 Microsoft will use the newest versions of its information worker platforms:
- Lync 2010
- SharePoint 2010
- Exchange 2010
Lync is the successor to Office Communications Server 2007 R2. It offers a variety of functionality, including Instant Messaging, presence, Online meetings and voice over IP (VoIP).
One of the main improvements Lync brings us is in the client. Using Lync you have a client which combines the original Office Communicator with the Live Meeting client. But this client offers some drawbacks. First of all: it is not compatible with Office Communications Server, only with the Lync server. Second: you will need this client if you want to use Office 365 for precense and instant messaging. And third: Office 365 will not offer you the voice capabilities (yet).
Do you want to use voice? Then you will need on on-premise Lync platform. Do you want to receive your voice mails from Lync to Exchange Online? Then you will need to federate this on-premise platform with Office 365. Do you want to participate in online meetings without the Lync client? Then Microsoft offers the Microsoft Lync Web App.
Exchange offers e-mail and calendaring using the web browser. One very nice features is the possibility to federate the Exchange environments is such a way that you can “exchange” free/busy information across organisations. Very handy!
Also included are archiving and auditing possibility. The platform itself is protected using Forefront. This scans both on the gateway and the Exchange environment itself.
Outlook Web Access has been improved and really looks and acts as the previous “fat” clients. But if you choose, you can still use these as well.
SharePoint is somewhat difficult, as this platform comes in many shapes and sizes. The
Office 365 version is basicaly (and not to diminish the platform at all!) SharePoint Foundation with support for MySites/Profiles and Sandbox-ed solutions. A very easy way to start collaborating.
Off-course, Microsoft offers Office 365 as a full platform. In most cases however, customers will already have one or more of the platforms mentioned. There is a possibility to implement Office 365 in a hybrid mode. Using, for example, the internal Active Directory in combination with the cloud based platforms. Do note however, that Office 365 does not support the use of multiple AD forests. So you’ll have to look into that. In most hybrid scenario’s, the organisation will have to provide Active Directory Federation Services, DirSynch and Right Management Services (if needed) on-premises.
For more information, follow these links.