Office 365 Beta Service Descriptions

Microsoft has made available the descriptions of Office 365 Beta Services:

I went through the Exchange Online Services & SharePoint Services.  I noted the following features for Office 365 in general:

  • Secure Access (SSL 128-bits)
  • Security Audits:
  • High Availability (%99.9)
  • Remote Administration:  many admin tasks can be performed with PowerShell scripts
  • …  and my favourite:  Federated Identity (through ADFS 2.0) and Single Sign On

The following features for Exchange Online:

  • Mailbox sizes 500MB, 25GB & Unlimited (depending on selected plan)
  • Max 25Mb of file attachment
  • Can support (depending on plan) POP, IMAP, MAPI, ActiveSync & Exchange Web Services
  • Inbox Rules
  • Unified Messaging
    • Voicemail
    • Outlook Voice Access
  • Outlook WebApp
  • IM & Presence via either Lync Server (on premise) or Lync Services Integration
  • Sharing calendars between organizations both running on Exchange Online
  • Anti-Spam & Anti-Virus Filtering
    • Also supports third-party filtering services on-premise
  • Information Right Management (IRM)
    • Supports only integration with on-premise AD-IRM
  • Third party apps:  Exchange Services doesn’t host any custom code, it must be hosted on premise or in Windows Azure
  • Supports only Outlook 2007, Outlook 2010 & Outlook for Max 2011

For me, having tried Exchange Services in summer 2010, it looks like the Exchange Online is maturing from an already good feature set.  The show stopper for me was the lack of real single-sign on solution integrated with on-premise AD.  Now that it is covered, it makes the platform quite attractive.

The only other problem I could see for a few enterprises, with my limited experience with Infrastructure, is the lack of support for third-party application running on Exchange Server.  I know that some companies are relying on a few plug-ins running directly on Exchange Server.  If that’s not your case, you may not be concerned.

As for SharePoint Services:

  • Co-Authoring (multiple people working simultaneously on the same document)
  • Work offline and sync later
  • My Site, expertise sharing
  • 10 Gb of base storage + 0.5Gb per enterprise user ($US 2,5 / GB / month on top of that)
  • Up to 100GB per site collection
  • Up to 5 TB per tenant
  • Support the following Mobile devices
    • Windows Phone 7 (both IE mobile and Office Hub)
    • Windows Mobile 6.1 + (IE mobile and Office Mobile 2010 (for 6.5.x devices))
    • Nokia S60 3.0 +, E series and N series devices
    • Apple iPhone 3.0 +
    • Blackberry 4.2 +
    • Android 1.5 +
  • Backups are performed every 12 hours
  • SharePoint 2010 goodies (e.g. Ribbon, Rich Text edit, etc.)
  • Sandbox solutions
  • Access Database Services
  • Visio Services
  • InfoPath Services

So SharePoint Services are also maturing.

The big problem I see with SharePoint services is for custom portals.  If your company have heavily invested in SharePoint by doing custom development, those assets can’t be ported to SharePoint online in a multi-tenant mode.  You would need to have your own server, which is more expensive.

This touches a core issue of SharePoint Services.  As oppose to the other offering, SharePoint often is customized on the server-side.  SharePoint wasn’t designed with multi-tenant customization in mind.  The Sandbox solutions came with SharePoint 2010, but they are so limited, you can’t do much with it, left alone porting already existing app to that mode.

But, if you’re using SharePoint with just some branding, you’re good to go.

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