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Office 365 Evaluation Guide

Office 365 is a set of subscription plans that combine Microsoft-hosted services, such as Exchange Online e-mail, with on-premises software, such as the Office desk-top suite and Office applications for iPad. Office 365 offers cost, scalability, and other advantages over on-premises deployments of software, such as Exchange Server, and its technical capabilities are similar to the corresponding server applications on-premises. However, customers have to trust Microsoft to keep the system working and protect their data, and they will have to match Microsoft’s cadence for upgrades. They might also have to make compromises on capabilities and manage additional infrastructure on-premises to integrate with Office 365 services.

This report summarizes the most important factors for deciding between Office 365 and on-premises systems to support e-mail, Web-based document sharing, unified communications, and other collaboration functions. It summarizes the major business and technical factors for evaluating Office 365, outlines the technical capabilities, migration options, and coexistence possibilities for the most important Office 365 services, and summarizes the licensing and purchasing options for large businesses.

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