Microsoft 365 Versus Traditional On-Premises Setups: 8 Key Advantages

Regardless of their size, businesses have a choice. Whether small, medium or large, organizations can run applications and services in-house or from the cloud.

When deploying apps and services on-premises, firms must purchase and track standalone licenses, order and configure required hardware, administer and maintain applications and servers, manage team collaboration and video conferencing tools, secure file-sharing processes, configure instant messaging, monitor all programs for incompatibilities and even install, secure and continually maintain email, not to mention cover all the corresponding backup and disaster recovery processes. Increasingly, however, businesses are gaining efficiencies and cost savings by migrating programs and services necessary for daily operations to the cloud, as evidenced by Microsoft’s 2022 cloud sales rising 32 percent, continuing the services’ classic hockey stick-like sales growth for the seventh straight year.

Microsoft 365 subscription services provide businesses and nonprofits the opportunity to move servers and applications to the cloud. The corresponding significant burdens maintaining licensing records, servers, applications, network storage, backups, patching and maintenance routines and a host of other related responsibilities are subsequently offloaded to Microsoft. The $1.7-trillion behemoth is simply better positioned to develop, host, administer, maintain and secure servers, apps and cloud services and deliver better uptime and performance than most customers can hope to approximate.

In fact, migrating these functions to the cloud provides organizations, particularly small and medium-size businesses (SMBs) with fewer resources and tighter budgets, offers numerous advantages versus traditional set ups in which a company purchases software, licensing and hardware, installs and configures the applications, designs, implements and maintains backup operations, reviews and implements corresponding cybersecurity plans and monitors the programs for updates, security fixes and potential incompatibilities, taking systems offline and installing updates when they become available and returning systems to operation. Email and intranets are additional traditional systems that place significant administrative responsibilities on businesses, while the need to permit inbound Internet traffic (such as occurs with email servers) opens the network to greater risk from potential unauthorized access, data compromise, ransomware infections and other forms of cyberattack. Such traditional set ups are falling out of favor as firms shift to adopting Microsoft 365 services. The company’s cloud revenues have grown considerably, with individual users of its cloud services growing steadily every year to more than 360 million.

Benefits Of Microsoft 365 Cloud Services: 

Numerous benefits frequently arise when migrating on-premises solutions to Microsoft’s cloud. Here are eight key advantages most important to SMBs.

 1. Cost

Companies can select from several Microsoft 365 subscriptions. Different plans are designed to meet the varying needs of everyone from individuals to enterprise organizations. From $69-a-year personal plans to $22-per-user-per-month business premium plans that include a variety of premium Office programs, secure cloud services, Azure Information Protection, SharePoint team sites and Exchange email and calendaring hosting, Microsoft 365 plans are available for most any organization operating in most any industry.

The subscription plans are also priced competitively. In fact, it’s difficult for a business to license all the corresponding software and services and run those products and solutions on-premises or in their own datacenter for less. The cost efficiencies are one of the reasons so many organizations are flocking to the cloud service.

Microsoft 365 subscriptions enable eliminating redundancies and reducing licensing costs by as much as 60 percent in some cases. The cloud solution also permits simplifying management, which can reduce IT management costs by 40 percent. A Forrester Total Economic Impact Study, commissioned by Microsoft, documents and details additional information regarding Microsoft 365 cost efficiencies and business benefits, including multiple device licensing advantages and elimination of the need to interrupt users when updating software releases.

 2. Security

Microsoft 365 services also boast compelling security advantages. The solutions provider maintains numerous tools, practices and technologies within the cloud services platform designed to protect the safety and security of customers’ data. The cloud services are also built to assist companies, and SMBs, in remaining compliant with privacy requirements and industry regulations, which further assists firms in maintaining compliance.

By default, enterprise-grade security is enabled for Microsoft 365 accounts. Multiple other security standards are included within the cloud offering, too. SMBs opting for Microsoft 365 services thereby offload to Microsoft the responsibilities of having to keep pace with new security standards and maintenance practices. Firms are subsequently freed from having to track and fulfill security responsibilities for the corresponding software, services and portals on-premises or within their data centers.

Multifactor authentication (MFA) helps further protect each Microsoft 365 user account from unauthorized access. Files are always encrypted, including while in transit over the Internet or at rest. Privacy and security controls baked within Microsoft Teams, Outlook and other Office apps and services, meanwhile, assist protecting users, employees and even customers from such common online threats as phishing and malware. And spam filtering and virus protection are automatically enabled on both in- and outbound email as additional safeguards.

The cybersecurity protections included within Microsoft 365 apps and services are no accident. Secure design and workflows are intentional, as the company uses its own Microsoft Trustworthy Computing Initiative, Security Development Lifecycle and Exchange Online Protection (EOP) to guide and manage security practices, secure its software and services development, deployment and management and safeguard email messaging, respectively.

 3. Flexibility

An often unappreciated but important cloud services benefit is the ability to quickly scale to meet new demand. The same proves true for Microsoft 365 services. Organizations can add or remove licenses and even products and services as their needs require.

When working with on-premises equipment, new software, licenses and hardware are often required before new users or new services can be introduced. Cybersecurity initiatives and backup and disaster recovery routines also need to be updated whenever important new platforms are added to the network.

Not so with Microsoft 365 services, which permit widespread flexibility, including accommodating employees who work remotely and even at odd hours. Better yet, unlike with on-premises strategies, firms need not pay upfront for future anticipated capacity that may prove unnecessary. With Microsoft 365, you pay only for what you need as you go.

 4. Reliability

Uptime is another advantage. Customers receive compelling service level agreements (SLA) with the online apps and services and can confirm service status at any given time using Microsoft’s Admin Center and Service Health portals specifically built for that purpose.

The company maintains redundant data centers and replicates information across geographically dispersed areas to protect against downtime due to a natural disaster or other crisis. Demands and workloads are continually balanced between systems to enhance and preserve performance. Component services are distributed, too, meaning a failure with one platform can often be contained and prevented from impacting other services.

Those technologies and practices work. Microsoft 365 services earned 99.98 percent uptime in the first and second quarters of 2022 and 99.99 percent uptime in 2022’s third quarter. Known as “four nines,” the third quarter statistic indicates Microsoft experienced less than 13.5 minutes of disruption in 90 days (consisting of 129,000 minutes).

SMBs typically need longer just to reboot a single server. Mission-critical applications and services typically require multiple servers, and most SMBs operate multiple systems, meaning SMBs would experience far greater downtime just trying to maintain their own servers in-house. The challenge of trying to surpass Microsoft’s historic uptime trends onsite is, thus, a very tall and largely unrealistic order.

5. Compatibility

When running applications and services onsite, organizations must track compatibility between applications and hardware. Conflicts can arise between different server platforms, network gear, server operating systems, application versions and corresponding cybersecurity technologies and backup and disaster recovery solutions.

When subscribing to Microsoft 365 services, Microsoft manages all those respective headaches itself. Organizations no longer need to track hardware age, firmware versions, application editions, operating system releases and other elements associated with the solutions being migrated to Microsoft 365.

Organizations that turn to cloud-based solutions instead of software and services hosted on-premises can turn their attention, instead, to higher value initiatives more closely associated to their organization’s mission and purpose. Compatibility issues, at least those related to the services being migrated to Microsoft 365, are essentially eliminated.

6. Compliance

Privacy rules and industry regulations are often areas where some organizations, particularly SMBs, prove weak. Properly segmenting and securing data and maintaining pace with different encryption and server security technologies and practices require significant expertise, time and effort.

Microsoft, however, built its Microsoft 365 offerings with those challenges in mind. Depending upon an organization’s specific needs, specific subscription options—such as Microsoft 365 E5 Compliance—are available for extending comprehensive compliance and stringent data governance capabilities when needed.

In addition to assisting organizations with complying with privacy and data standards, Microsoft 365 solutions include options to identify and resolve various risks and compliance issues, manage and complete compliance investigations and respond to regulatory inquiries. The time and energy freed can then be better focused on servicing the organization’s mission and purpose.

7. Team Collaboration

Collaboration capabilities are another way Microsoft 365 services excel. In addition to Teams, which provides organizations with robust and reliable audio and video conferencing, meeting and collaboration features, Microsoft 365 subscriptions can be structured to include SharePoint services, which assist sharing and managing files, information and applications, creating internal departmental portals and transforming daily business processes and workflows.

Due to its cloud nature, peers and colleagues need not be in the same location to effectively collaborate or communicate. Microsoft 365 solutions enable employees and team members to coordinate and track various projects and workflows from different locations and across different time zones.

Team members can access and open apps on the web using various devices and operating systems, as files are securely stored in the cloud. Users can share specific files with the coworkers and departments they select and as needed. Teams further assists coordination and communication. With that Microsoft 365 solution, which grew in popularity and necessity during the pandemic, users can initiate private conversations, quickly set up meetings for multiple members, schedule future sessions and collaborate in real-time on various files and projects.

Still other components enable extending collaboration features and capabilities, including with customers. Bookings assists scheduling appointments, both with internal and external contacts. Planner enables tracking various tasks, saving and sharing related files and assigning responsibilities and priorities, while the Lists information- and item-tracking app enables creating, sharing and tracking data across teams and organizations and Forms simplifies capturing and collecting data, gaining feedback, visualizing statistics and making better decisions. PowerApps and PowerAutomate, meanwhile, are additional tools available with select Microsoft 365 plans that simplify custom software development and automating data collection and operational workflows, all without users requiring programming backgrounds or advanced training.

8. Simplified Administration

Migrating apps, files and services to Microsoft 365 simplifies user and solution management, too. Firms receive a dedicated portal for administering all aspects of the organization’s Microsoft 365 services. In-house IT professionals or the company’s outside provider can add and remove users, adjust subscription plans, provision services and further manage apps and features using the Microsoft 365 Admin Center. With everything in one place, user tracking, licensing, management and administration is much easier compared to having to maintain and operate different systems and platforms in-house.

From within the admin center, technology staff can manage apps, services, data, devices and users. Microsoft describes “specialist workspaces” its created within the portal as permitting assigning different responsibilities to different IT personnel. Such role-based administration assures team members can only access relevant information while also protecting the organization by not oversharing information unnecessarily, including across various technology professionals.

Sophisticated information Microsoft refers to as actionable intelligence integrated within the admin portal further assists app, user and services administration by tracking priorities and surfacing findings and recommendations based on previous activities, best practices and trend analysis. Predefined reports also help ensure apps and services are being used effectively, which helps firms make the most of their Microsoft 365 investments.

Is Your Firm Maximizing Microsoft 365? 

Do you have questions regarding your firm’s Microsoft 365 use? Are you curious how your organization might reduce costs, improve efficiencies, bolster productivity or better leverage existing Microsoft 365 services?

Contact a Louisville Geek Microsoft 365 services specialist for more information. We frequently assist organizations in reviewing their Microsoft 365 accounts and confirming proper licenses are in place, as less expensive options are sometimes available to achieve the same results or minimal additional investments can generate significant new efficiencies and capabilities. Our technical team can also help review and improve workflows or create new routines that better collect more accurate data, automate manual routines that previously required time and effort to repeatedly reproduce and generate more compelling business intelligence data to assist decision making.

Contact Louisville Geek at 502-897-7577 or email [email protected] for more Microsoft 365 information or with questions regarding cloud services deployments.