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Microsoft 365 Business Brings an IT Team to Smaller Businesses

By - Source: Toms IT Pro
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Microsoft wants to bring the resources you'd normally get from a dedicated IT team to a software solution.

Credit: Dennizn/ShutterstockCredit: Dennizn/ShutterstockYou've probably heard of Office 365 — the Microsoft cash cow that is the main productivity tool for millions of users. But the technical needs of businesses require more complex solutions for security, management, and adding in additional productivity software. And not every company, especially smaller businesses, have the resources for a dedicated IT team or the ability to build custom software for the business.

To pursue this opening in the market, Microsoft is pushing Microsoft 365 Business, which attempts to bring the type of resources that one would normally get from a dedicated IT team or a subscription to a software bundle to smaller companies.

But to make such an offering user-friendly, especially for companies that have a vast difference in IT experience, requires some serious precision. While Microsoft has done well at the enterprise level with its cloud services and Office bundles, how well it can meet the needs of the smaller businesses out there remains a critical challenge.

The basics

Microsoft 365 also grants you the feature set of Office 365, with services such as OneDrive, Office software, Skype and other collaboration tools. You also get other specialized software for services like managing your company's online presence, sending invoices and tracking other team metrics.

The bump up to Microsoft 365 Business gets you the following, according to the company:

  • Single console to manage user and device settings       
  • Self-service PC deployment with Windows AutoPilot       
  • Automatically deploy Office apps to Windows 10 PCs
  • Protect company data across devices
  • Secure access to documents on mobile devices       
  • Protect Windows 10 devices against malware, viruses, and spyware with Windows Defender

Behind the console

Microsoft 365 attempts to make the onboarding process simple for those who don't have an IT background — which is pretty much most people who are running a small to medium-sized business.

There are various settings for applying a custom configuration to devices, deploying Windows 10 with Windows AutoPilot, mapping devices to Intune settings, and migrating Exchange servers to the cloud. The key here is to know what you can take on. If you have a small team, all you may need to focus on is general administration of user accounts and what your data sharing policies will look like.

Data security is usually the first thing that comes to mind when a business is considering moving its data and IT infrastructure to the cloud. According to Microsoft, 28 percent of employees use an unsanctioned tool on their devices. Microsoft 365 enables universal enforcement of security policies, along with other granular controls over what employees can access on devices. Usually the most important place to start for the uninitiated is setting up user accounts and getting them established with the right software. If you're planning to keep it all in the Office universe, this should work well. Diving into more specific controls for individual team members will require more time, but the option is there if you need it.

Finding out more

The key differentiator between Microsoft 365 and Office 365 is the former is a comprehensive management and deployment solution. It's built for a smaller business that doesn't want to contract with an outside firm or acquire a massive fleet of PCs and mobile devices for everyone on the team.

That isn't to say the many versions of the service, and how everything interacts specifically with Office 365, isn't confusing at times. Head here to the demo page (you'll have to surrender some information) and get access to a series of videos that shows some of this in action. Microsoft 365 is for a company that needs to control both the flow of information and give the team more services than you'd get just with Office.

In terms of cost, Microsoft 365 Business is $20 per month per user when purchased directly from Microsoft. Alternatively, a subscription can be acquired from one of the company’s partners.

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