27/06/2011

By Marcus Leach, Head of Editorial at Fresh Business Thinking

For those small businesses who are not up to speed with the latest jargon flying around with regards to cloud computing it is no wonder they have doubts and concerns about changing the habit of a lifetime. Yet with Microsoft Office 365 there is no need to hold onto these archaic views of IT and all that can go wrong.

Before launching the Beta version of their cloud computing offering Microsoft held an extensive range of focus groups and forums with small business owners, in order to establish what it was they needed from the cloud, and most importantly to appease any fears the business owners had over what converting to the cloud would mean to them.

The biggest concern, as expected, was that of security. When small business owners have their data on site stored on servers they feel a sense of control. Tell the same person that their data is to be stored in the ether and a sense of panic at not being in control creeps in. However, given the cost effectiveness of cloud solutions, and safety measures in place, there is no reason to fear Office 365.

Microsoft themselves explained that storing your data, and running your IT, through the cloud is much the same as depositing your money at the bank. As a small business owner you trust that when you put your money in the bank it will remain there until you wish to withdraw it, and the same principle applies to the cloud and security of data used through Office 365.

Whilst your data will not be sat in the IT room of your office on a server, or on your own personal hard drive for the smaller businesses, you can rest assured that it will be almost entirely safe in the cloud, which is in essence a bank for IT. Following the recent online attacks and subsequent data theft on high profile technology sites it is understandable that people still have their doubts. As with all their products Microsoft adhere to a extremely high level of security, including 128-bit SSL/TSL encryption, meaning Office 365 is safe and secure to use.

Office 365 has been built from the ground up to ensure maximum reliability, availability and performance. It offers a guaranteed 99.9% uptime which should put at ease those who are concerned they will not be able to access their data at all times, and thus compromise their business performance. Whilst Office 365 is in itself a new offering, it is powered by the same Microsoft email and collaboration products that businesses of all sizes have been using for decades.

This means all data written to the cloud is securely stored three times over, meaning it is protected against all eventualities, such as drive, server, network or datacenter failure, as well as any natural disaster. Further to that users have the ability to decide where their data ‘lives’ specific to their companies legal requirements.

Such is the protection that only you the user can access the data. Microsoft can only access data stored in the cloud when formally requested by the user or an authority with legal jurisdiction.

The big corporates don’t always have the same worries as small businesses, and that is why Office 365 is simple, yet hugely effective. So put the concerns to one side and sign up for the beta, which includes a free 30-day trial and see how Office 365 can take your IT services to the next level.

For more information on how Office 365 can benefit you, as a small business owner, go to www.microsoft.com/uk/sb/office365.


Watch the video below featuring Tanya Shirlow, SMB Marketing Lead at Microsoft UK, as she discusses the advantages of cloud services.

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