In last week’s blog, we introduced you to the idea of taking a closer look at Office 365 for your law firm’s current IT environment. This week, we’re going to go into more detail to help you weigh your options and make a plan to migrate to Office 365.
Because it is the most logical offering for our law firm clients, today I will only discuss the Office 365 Business and Enterprise plans. The Home and School editions are specifically designed with those markets in mind. The Business plans come in a few flavors: Office 365 for Business, Business Premium and Business Essentials. The Enterprise plans are labeled E1, E3 and E5.
The first difference to consider between the two plans is user count. If your law firm has 300 users or fewer, then the Business and Enterprise plans are both viable options. If the firm has more than 300 users, the Enterprise plans are the ones to evaluate. If the firm is on the cusp, say 250 users, I recommend looking at Enterprise plans to save on a migration step when that 300-user count is surpassed. Also, when considering your user count, any shared mailboxes must be included.
Another item to consider is mailbox size. The Business plans max out at 50GB, with the ability to add an unlimited archive option onto the subscription. The Enterprise plans have a 100GB limit, which was recently increased from 50GB. This plan includes an unlimited archive with the subscription.
Another feature the Enterprise plan offers is Litigation Hold. This feature can be enabled per mailbox, and is not available in the Business level plans.
Office 365 also offers the Office 2016 Pro Plus desktop suite, which includes the ever-popular Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint applications. Any plan that includes these desktop apps also includes the ability to install the software on up to five separate machines, including Macs.
Migration to Office 365 is highly dependent on a lot of factors within your law firm’s existing environment. The current Exchange version and Office version your firm is using play the largest role in planning out a successful move to Office 365.
If your firm has Exchange 2007 or earlier, this migration requires additional planning, with a possible two-step migration to Exchange 2013/2016, prior to migrating to Office 365 hosted email. There are several factors to consider for older Exchange migrations.
Your current office version is a huge factor in the migration sequence. The Office 365 platform has discontinued support for Office 2007, specifically Outlook 2007 email application. If the firm is on Office 2007, migrating the backend to Office 365 and then keeping existing Outlook running will prove problematic.
There are other Outlook plugins to consider. Document management systems, IP telephony, macros and other office productivity tools rely on the existing Office versions. Many of these add-ins are specifically programmed for that Office version.
The most popular migration scenarios to Office 365 frequently include hosted email and new versions of Office. However, most Office 365 plans have other value-adds. Additional software can include instant messaging, an intranet based on SharePoint, cloud storage and video streaming services. Many of these services are included in the monthly spend.
With the bundled services and applications available to end users, Office 365 can help solve many IT challenges. Office 365 is a viable platform to consider for any law firm's IT budget.