When you add remote users to your organization for the first time, you’ll likely experience IT infrastructure strain.
Meanwhile, “moving to the cloud” has become a fashionable trend that promises to deliver cost savings, improved uptime, and additional features.
Will it truly help, though?
That depends upon your needs, your infrastructure, and the ability of your current team maintaining the onsite Microsoft Exchange server.
Here’s how to evaluate your framework to see if a Microsoft 365 migration is right for you.
A key aspect to consider is a realistic evaluation of your organization’s ability to maintain the on-prem Exchange servers.
Start with the question: how long does it take to test and implement the patches on the servers when Microsoft releases critical patches for an Exchange Server, such as the one patched in early September ?
Moving to Microsoft 365 pushes the patching and infrastructure maintenance burden onto Microsoft. That said, how much time and money will be saved if you can lighten the burden for your IT team?
Any organization considering a migration to Microsoft 365 needs to work with its IT team and/or IT vendor to quantify the cost spent on software maintenance, as well as the hardware for the servers.
If this is not something currently measured, implement a tracking system for a quarter or two, then check.
Infrastructure & Location Needs
Another key aspect to consider is the current state of your organization and its existing IT infrastructure.
You’ll want to ask these questions:
- Where does your workforce work?
- Does the existing IT infrastructure provide adequate bandwidth?
Some companies have a single office, and an Exchange server within that office adequately meets their ongoing needs.
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However, other organizations have multiple offices, and would benefit by replacing multiple exchange servers or dropping dedicated lines between offices used for a central exchange server.
The pandemic has also forced many employees to work from home using VPN to access corporate environments primarily designed for onsite employees.
How much will your internal bandwidth be changed by switching from an internally hosted email solution to a cloud solution?
If a huge portion of your LAN-to-Internet traffic is currently occupied by VPN users checking emails, then allowing them to communicate directly with the cloud will relieve infrastructure strain.
Conversely, if your internet bandwidth is limited and users currently use an onsite server for email, then switching to the cloud would swamp the existing resources.
Some users just don’t like change and will become stressed every few months when Microsoft 365 adds new features and changes its display. Many others won’t even notice.
Which one best describes your team?
Migrating to Microsoft 365 may also change how your users access their emails and shared files. Will your employees quickly embrace the changes, or will they be difficult to train?
If the organization might only benefit incrementally, user habits may prevent any consideration of change.
Microsoft steadily adds features to Microsoft 365 and offers many collaboration apps.
However, if users strictly need MS Office and Outlook, there is no benefit to those users to migrate from a feature standpoint.
Though, if your users like to use new apps, there are many cool features that take advantage of the cloud. For example, Microsoft has added Whiteboard to Teams so users can appy sticky notes, add text, and even move objects around a shared workspace – even during a live call.
Transcribe for Word on the web is a particularly interesting feature that uses Azure Cognitive services to allow for users to dictate and have their spoken language converted to text.
This type of app requires scalable computing power that would be impossible to implement locally and shows a glimpse of how Microsoft 365 might begin to further distance itself from on-prem implementation.
Sunk vs. Future vs. Subscription vs. Switching Costs
Naturally, cost plays a huge role.
Any evaluation will require a CIO to ably compare the sunk and future costs of retaining on-prem servers against the switching and ongoing subscription costs of Microsoft 365.
Sunk costs include all money spent to date in acquiring and setting up the existing servers. For organizations that have already made significant investments, it will be very difficult to ignore those.
The future costs would include labor, hardware replacement costs, software renewal costs, and estimates for related expenses (power, building space, cooling, etc.). These costs may not be immediately obvious and make take some time to list and estimate.
The costs for Microsoft subscriptions seems to be obvious for business, however, there are also enterprise plans available with similar pricing and it is not always to switch between options.
Also, migration of a large environment can be expensive and complicated and may need expert guidance to estimate accurately.
Making the Decision
Ultimately, if you are happy, stable, and your costs are under control, perhaps there is no strong reason to consider Microsoft 365.
Wait until there are features you must have, or until there is a significant cost coming up to reevaluate.
However, if you want to accurately compare possibilities, call Ideal Integrations today at 412-349-6680. We will guide you through options, help you estimate costs and determine if your organization can realize any advantage through a cloud transition.