Wondering why to shift to Office 365…

So you’re a consultant that’s getting familiar with Office 365, having come from something like SharePoint or Exchange or perhaps Skype for Business on-premises and you think to yourself, “This platform probably has some limitations…. I can tune my back end storage to be performant… and my users are generally happy though we keep running out of space. I wonder what Microsoft can provide that’s better…”

All good thoughts and questions that I might find myself reflecting upon. I won’t deny that as a SharePoint IT Pro that occassionally dabbled in Exchange administration when I needed to, system tuning and upkeep can sometimes take a lot of time. When requirements are passed along from business owners around what end users need, I sometimes cringe, primarily when it comes to storage space – it’s difficult to keep up with the content that end users are creating (regardless of whether it’s duplicative or if it’s useful content), the needs are real. Sure, I could host my environment on the latest and greatest storage system and continually grow my storage spaces that my databases resided within (carving out storage from primordial storage is always fun, right?). And sure, I could go and order more disk for my system as I needed, but that also meant that I had to stay on top of things and learn the storage backend system and how to properly tune it as well as picking up other components of the surrounding infrastructure.

Of course, thinking through the other components that are required to keep an on-premises system operating such as needing to patch for system, application and configuration updates in addition to code deployments from developers also lends itself to keeping documentation up to date, all of which can be quite daunting.

Documentation? why would we need documentation? Sure, it’s good to have your own system properly documented in runbook of sorts, but also the documentation for business users and quasi-developers to understand the services and limitations surrounding the system. And if we become forgetful that our business users are the individuals that pay the bills then we probably need to take a reality check.

This seems to be a bit more than what a single individual can perform as a part of their job without becoming overwhelmed.

Perhaps we’ve become forgetful about what it’s like to leave the office at 430p because deployments of software to the server by our developers is a never ending troubleshooting battle. Or maybe we’re overwhelmed by the inabiity to keep up with end user storage requirements. Or maybe, we’ve determined that no matter how much we do in talking to end users about what they can and cannot do with SharePoint Designer or with JavaScript that it’s too late to enforce governance because the system has grown in a viral fashion.

Enter the Office 365 Service Description

So I’m not suggesting throwing in the towel of operating an on-premises system, though there’s definitely a lot of work. But continually having to review the work of others and then help to clean things up can be fairly difficult. That’s where something like Office 365 actually comes in to be incredibly helpful – especially when you start thinking about scaling to meet end user needs around storage. SharePoint site collections hosted on-premises can scale, but there’s a bit of work that is required when it comes to tuning the storage to be performant for users. Additionally if you’re thinking about using OneDrive for Business on-premises, it’ll require a bit of work to tune your servers to properly respond to requests in a way that doesn’t degrade the end user’s experience using the web interface.
To start with, look at what is provided for in terms of storage for an Office 365 Tenant.

Storage per user (contributes to total storage base of tenant) - 500 MB.
Storage base per tenant - 1 TB + user storage.

Source – https://support.office.com/en-us/article/SharePoint-Online-software-boundaries-and-limits-8f34ff47-b749-408b-abc0-b605e1f6d498?ui=en-US&rs=en-US&ad=US&fromAR=1

So if you start thinking about this, that’s a lot of storage space. If you’ve got 1000 users, you’ve got 1.5 TB of total storage (1000 users x 500 MB + 1 TB). If you add in the storage that each licensed user receives for their OneDrive for Business you have approximately 1000 TB of storage that users can make use of before they start storing documents in SharePoint collaboration sites or Office 365 Groups.

Consider the backups that are required for this – does your backup solution provide for the ability to pull files back or host 1k users and all the storage needs that they may have? Further, are you able to quickly react when someone deletes a document (realizing that their first thing to do is check the recycle bin before opening a ticket).

Lots of reasons just around storage to start considering the Office 365 services that are out there for the Enterprise (or education or small business customers). Seems like there’s probably a lot to chew on if we’ve only scratched the surface here in a thought experiment as a consultant.

Consider taking a few minutes and a pot of your favorite coffee and head on over to the Office 365 Service Description documentation to start learning what the capabilities and limits are of the Microsoft cloud productivity and collaboration platform – https://www.office365sd.com

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