Early in my law firm IT career, one of the more complicated applications I had to support was Microsoft Exchange, the flagship enterprise application from Microsoft that drives millions of email messages each day. When Exchange hums, business communication flows. But when the application is having problems, law firm communications come to a screeching halt.
Honestly, I have a love-hate relationship with Exchange. As long as I hear and see
the server, I have a sense of control. Emails flow and are protected with a nice piece of equipment I can touch. However, this comes at a cost.
As law firms grow larger, management of Exchange becomes increasingly burdensome. At my company, we spent money on an Exchange-certified employee to keep the system optimally configured. We spent a large amount of time planning downtime windows and upgrades and making sure backups were occurring regularly. At times, storage issues became a problem. This was compounded when more emails came into the system. I spent too much time supporting the system and not enough time on client problems.
Enter Stage Right: Office 365
Fortunately, Microsoft developed new software and a new platform to ease the burden of running an Exchange server. Office 365 is a huge disruptor to the previous on-premise Exchange model. Microsoft took many of their most popular applications and bundled them into an easily consumable format.
As I come to better understand the service offering, I've found that the solution is about more than hosted email: it has many other features that any law firm can leverage in their environment. I believe it can transform your legal IT spending and resources.
You might be wondering what exactly is Office 365. At its heart, it is a suite of services and software, ranging from hosted email, to intranet, cloud storage and security features. It is sold in a Software as a Service model. Microsoft has a dizzying array of plans; thus, there are several options to choose from to meet a firm’s technology needs. We’ll cover these plans in next week’s blog.
In next week’s blog, we’ll get in to more detail on Office 365 in the law firm environment, including discussing features of different plans, and planning a successful move to Office 365.