A local Indianapolis dental office has decided not to update their local Exchange software and asked me to review hosted Exchange providers and online office productivity suites from Intermedia and Microsoft. They both are cloud-based and use Microsoft Office products, but each has slightly different features and benefits.
- Intermedia’s “Office in the Cloud” boasts migration support and has less limitations than Office 365, but no productivity software – it’s only a communications platform
- Office 365 has a plan that includes email, all of the communications offered by Intermedia (except hosted PBX), and offers cloud and desktop versions of Office software
In order to help the dentist choose a possible plan, I needed to go over some of the features of Sharepoint (Microsoft’s Intranet software) and Lync (Microsoft’s chat software) to see how many bells and whistles he wanted. I boiled all the various choices down to these two plans, which really depended on whether or not he wanted the productivity software or just communications software:
- Office 365’s E3 plan comes with email, Sharepoint, and desktop versions of Office 2010 for $20 per user per month. The only thing it doesn’t have is the Lync phone services.
- Intermedia’s Professional plan which comes with migration support, hosted email, and Sharepoint, but no Office applications (online or off) for $12 per user per month.
Here is a diagram I made up to help explain visually the differences between Intermedia Office in the Cloud™ and Office 365™:
Why Microsoft? Why Not Google?
Most of my local Indianapolis clients use Google Apps for their email (Gmail) and Intranet sites (Google Sites), but this particular dental office is a Microsoft shop. It’s what they understand and they didn’t want the learning curve of learning something new or having to pay someone everytime they had a question. While it is true that you can use Outlook with Google Apps, that’s not for everybody. Outlook with Exchange offers many more things you can do with Outlook than Outlook with Google Apps. One example is email directory integration.
Why the Cloud? Why Not Install Locally?
Essentially the business owner is choosing to outsource all of their hardware costs, all of the hardware maintenance, and some of the software support to a managed service provider on the Internet. Instead of paying a large upfront cost for a new server, new software licenses, and the IT installation costs, the business owner is choosing to pay one low, predictable cost per month for a predictable service as a product. Even Dentrix has jumped on the cloud with their newest, Dentrix Ascend software, which runs in Chrome. If you’re considering a jump to cloud apps, consider reading 5 Ways to Compute Cloud Computing ROI.