By Midd Carmack, Senior Product Manager
Does an enterprise of 50 to 2000 employees need a managed services provider to use Office 365? After all, Microsoft sells Office 365 directly, right? In fact, choices made in setting up and managing Office 365 can result in big differences in licensing costs, end-user experiences, speed of deployment, and use of IT resources upfront and ongoing. As a result, many startups, small and medium-sized businesses choose the expertise of TierPoint as an Office 365 managed services provider.
What is Office 365?
Office 365 is a portfolio of Microsoft’s productivity tools and services in the cloud. Office 365 can include Exchange Online for email and calendaring; Office applications such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint; plus many other applications and collaborative services such as SharePoint Online and Skype for Business.
In the cloud, Office 365 presents unique opportunities and challenges. These add complexity that benefits from the expertise TierPoint provides as a Microsoft Cloud Services Provider (CSP).
1. Do all Office 365 managed services providers offer the same level of service?
There is no standard package of managed services offered by all Office 365 managed services providers. Managed Office 365, one of our many Managed Services, is a key focus of TierPoint. We learn about and understand our customers’ challenges and business needs and then design, deploy and manage an Office 365 solution specific to their requirements.
Our depth of engineering expertise and understanding of the limitations and advantages of Microsoft and third-party solutions allows us to serve as both an advisor and designer of the optimal solution for each customer.
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2. How much work it is to deploy Office 365?
Many organizations don’t initially realize that there is a lot of upfront discovery and decision making that needs to happen before deployment to create the end-user experience they want. User identity management and authentication is an example. We describe various deployment scenarios, explaining what each would be like for their end users, so our customers make an informed decision and avoid surprises.
3. When is the right time to engage an Office 365 managed services provider?
We welcome customers at all stages of Office 365 deployment. Some customers come to us having just decided to deploy Office 365 and are seeking a trusted advisor to help do it right. Some customers will have started a migration and seek expert resources when they run into challenges or issues. Some of our customers were already using Office 365 when they decided they’d rather offload the ongoing management and support to an Office 365 managed services provider.
4. Does Office 365 require all workloads to be in the cloud?
We engage with our customers in upfront discovery and design of their deployment model and take a consultative approach. Do they want to move all of their end user data into the Microsoft cloud or would it be better to put some users in the cloud and keep some user data on premises? A big part of the service we provide our Managed Office 365 customers is working with them to identify when and how to implement a hybrid architecture for balancing differing requirements across an organization.
5. What about support and maintenance after deployment?
We also provide ongoing management and support for Office 365. If a Managed Office 365 customer has a problem, they will call TierPoint. We have a very large and capable service delivery staff of our own, and we subscribe to Premier Support from Microsoft, so we have a direct line to resolve customer problems quickly if we need to escalate. We also optionally offer end user / help desk services for our customers that want to outsource that function as well.
6. What if I already have Office or Office 365 licenses?
As a Microsoft Cloud Services Provider (CSP), TierPoint can move customers who already have direct subscriptions with Microsoft for Office 365 to TierPoint’s Managed Office 365 solution. We help our customers design a deployment that is the best use of the Microsoft licenses they already have on servers, devices and desktops, and in the cloud.
7. How much time can Managed Office 365 save my IT team?
Managed Office 365 frees up a customer’s IT admin resources to do what they do best – run their business. While an Office 365 deployment may be something our customer’s IT team have never done before, our TierPoint advisors do it every week. With TierPoint as an extension of the customer’s team, their IT staff can be as involved or as uninvolved as they want. We’ve got it covered from complex discovery and design to integration with existing infrastructure, and on through routine email and user administration.
As a Senior Product Manager, Midd is responsible for delivering key features to define and translate TierPoint’s cloud product strategy into innovative and compelling solutions. Midd brings over 20 years of IT infrastructure, operating system, database administration and product management experience to the TierPoint team.