My last post reviewed options, migration steps, and requirements for moving to the cloud. In this post, I wanted to get a little more granular. While Google and Microsoft fiercely compete to provide the best cloud options to their clients and to nonprofits, there are some other elements to consider when you think it’s time for your organization to move to the cloud. We’ll look at some of the solutions offered with different platforms and develop an approach around migrating.

New – Video/Voice/Chat & Presence

Microsoft and Google both provide a service that allows for “enterprise-wide” chat, internal voice calls, video calls, and desktop sharing. This, in my opinion, is one of the most powerful features in these platforms. The ability to connect people together with interactive technologies that promote collaboration and teamwork is a vital component of successfully executing on your mission. These applications can be installed on desktops, laptops, tablets, and phones without much prep work

Same – Email

While chat and video are the future, email is our current reality. With Google, everything is, or should be, in the browser. With Microsoft, the browser experience of Apps is improving by the day, however for most people their Outlook application is their lifeblood. Email is one of the easiest services to migrate to the cloud because the back-end server is abstracted from the client software. Both Google and Microsoft provide tools for migrating email, contacts and calendar information into their systems. Our experience indicates that these tools are good for organizations with fewer than 15 people. Larger organizations can really benefit from 3rd party tools that provide additional automating, reporting and better error handling. You can follow our Exchange Online migration checklist which describe the steps required to migrate from on premise or hosted email into Office 365.

Different – File and Collaboration

File sharing in the cloud is the final frontier. Solutions like Dropbox and Drive are individual-centric, well suited for one person or a small group to collaborate. We’ve found that managing these type of solutions in a bigger organization can present a lot of challenges particularly around data access and transitioning owners. While there are native and third party tools to move your files into Google’s Drive or a SharePoint document library, migrating to the cloud is a great opportunity to critically evaluate your document utilization and use it as an opportunity to reassess whether you still need to forklift your 15 year old file structure into the cloud. After an evaluation, the need for a dedicated file system may be diminished as activities and processes move to CRM systems, project management systems or other applications.
Making the migration to a cloud service is usually less resource-intensive than upgrading a system in your office, however it is important to learn about the differences between working with a server down the hall versus one “in the clouds.” Understanding how your organization works and wants to work will be a key factor in how successful your organization will be in taking advantage of the new features and capabilities offered in the cloud.
Community IT has explored both SharePoint and OneDrive on our blog in the posts on OneDrive vs SharePoint , SharePoint as File Server, and OneDrive vs Dropbox.
You may also be interested in free Webinar resources we have presented on Sharepoint, OneDrive, and Dropbox.  See our catalog of past webinars here