Microsoft Office 365 – Past, Present, and Future

When Microsoft announced its plans for Office 365 in October of this year, few were cognizant of the five-plus years of groundwork that preceded the launch of its hosted-application platform. Few also seemed to understand why and how Microsoft is attempting to coalesce its varied hosted application offerings under a single brand and infrastructure. I’m hoping with this series to clarify the past, present and future of one of the most crucial elements of Microsoft’s cloud strategy.

Office 365 is the new name for the Microsoft services offerings currently known as Business Output Online Suite (BPOS), Live@edu and Office Live Tiny Business. Office 365 is in limited beta now and will be available to customers in the first half of diary 2011. More nuts-and-bolts specifics about Office 365 are available via my ZDNet Webcast, “Office 365 Essentials, inches which is downloadable for free (with registration).

Putting the Office 365 Base

The idea of a suite of Microsoft-hosted apps isn’t something totally new that the Softies dreamed up in answer to Google Paperwork. Microsoft execs were considering the possibilities of organised applications as far again as 2003 to 2005, when Microsoft commenced making a handful of key strategic acquisitions in this arena.

Different business devices at the business were seeking parallel strategies. The reseller-channel-focused part of the company had fielded a organised Exchange offering at the start of the ten years, via which it was offering certain resellers and integrators the ability to resell with their users partner-hosted Microsoft Exchange. The House windows Live team had developed a hosted offering centered at the academic community, known as Live@edu. Plus the Office Live team got fashioned a small-business-centric pair of Microsoft-hosted wares, known as Office Live Small Enterprise (OLSB), which included email-based, domain hosting and Web-site development tools.

office 365

Eron Kelly, Senior Director for Business office 365, remembered Microsoft was looking for ways growing its Office-centric businesses around mid-decade. Hosting seemed like a good option, but the question was whether Microsof company should buy or build — or do some of both — to get additional significantly into this arena.

Microsoft’s real-time communications unit already had purchased hosted webinar vendor Placeware in the year 2003. In 2005, the Redmondians ordered FrontBridge, a secure-messaging service provider.

“By overdue 2005/early 2006, we did find a clear value proposition in running Exchange for our customers, ” Kelly were recalled. “We could offer customers economies of scale and skill, and also make more money for Microsof company. “

Microsoft execs already were envisioning the business and technical opportunities of providing not simply hosted email-based, but in addition instant-messaging, presence, and similar services, Kelly said. Microsoft officials were mentioning to idea as CCS, or communications and cooperation services.

As the product clubs were launching their recently established hosted offerings, things also were happening internally — on the Microsoft Details Technology (MSIT) side of the house. By june 2006, explorations had begun around the notion of Microsoft working multiple services for large customers, including Microsoft itself. MSIT was testing a pilot of Microsoft-hosted Swap, SharePoint and Live Marketing and sales communications Services with Energizer Loge.

The primary champion right behind Microsoft’s burgeoning Online Providers push was the past president of Microsoft’s Enterprise Division, Jeff Raikes. Nevertheless Microsoft’s outgoing Chief Application Architect Ray Ozzie enjoyed a role in the company’s. hosted services press, as well, according to Kelly.
Ozzie joined Microsof company in 2005, wonderful succeeding “Internet Services Disruption” idiota “was wind inside our sails, ” Kelly said. “His view was closely lined up with ours and that we achieved with Ray often, even though he was spending considerable time on the consumer side (and on the Live@edu piece) of Microsoft’s business, ” Kelly said.

“We talked at the early stage about judgements and their long-term influence on Microsoft. We spent considerable time early-on with (CEO) Dorrie (Ballmer), Raikes and (former Office chief Steven) Elop, ” said Kelly. “The thinking was this (Microsoft’s Online Services) was the first instance of what Microsoft would finally become. inches

Late 2008: BPOS comes into the world

By the time 2007 rolled around, Microsof company quietly was offering Microsoft-hosted versions of Exchange, SharePoint and Live Meeting (the result of Microsoft’s Placeware acquisition) to the first few paying customers, which included Energizer, XL Money and a handful of other enterprise accounts. That wasn’t until late 08, yet , that Microsoft technically launched BPOS, its pack of such services, as a package.

At this time in Microsoft’s Online Services life, BPOS was a side business for Microsoft. The business was still leading with software, not services. And no-one was talking (yet) about being “all in” with the cloud.

The Ms product teams delivered the on-premises versions of Trade, SharePoint and Communications Machine to its Online Solutions teams and those groups then started out work on bringing a subset of the services in these products to customers who have been prepared to try using them by means of Microsoft-hosted services. The particular lag time between the time a software feature was available as a service feature was (and still is, at this point), considerable. Nearly all current BPOS customers you do not have access to the features Microsoft rolled out weeks ago with Exchange the year 2010 and SharePoint 2010, for example. (Those features are now slated to first appearance when Office 365 roll-outs next year. )

Heading forward, nevertheless , the plan is to develop software and hosted services in tandem, Kelly said. By getting new features into services faster, new advances in each one of the piece parts of BPOS/Office 365 will be available to customers more immediately.

“As the Trade, SharePoint and Communication (Lync) teams take more possession, once a server is ready, we expect the delta (between software and service delivery times) to diminish, ” he said. “The idea in the future is to have things come out at the same time, but not to force all (teams) to be on the same train. inch

How is Microsoft intending to speed up its shipping schedule? What’s changing, besides the brands, as Ms moves from BPOS to Office 365? I’ll deal with these questions and more in tomorrow’s installment of this series.

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