I work with SharePoint On-Premise and SharePoint Online (Office 365) every day, due to the nature of my job as an SharePoint Consultant. I love what I do and I love working with SharePoint as a platform. I use a mix of Apple and Microsoft technologies, whatever gets the job done best, is good enough for me.  Lately I’ve been reconsidering that plan though, due to mr. Snowdens revealings of the NSA sleeping with both Microsoft and Apple (Linux, I’m looking at you). But that’s for another blog post.

Office 365 is booming. We are adding new clients to the platform almost every day. It’s a great platform getting cheap but high-end exchange-servers. It’s a great way for companies to get access to enterprise platforms, such as Exchange, Lync and SharePoint. And it just works.

What happens when it doesn’t work? What happens when features break? According to Microsoft, you simply creates a support-ticket or call them and they fix it. And it’s true. I’ve felt with Microsoft support many times and unlike Google’s Cloudplatform, you actually get to talk to real people, that tries to help you with your issues.

Every month, Microsoft ads new features to Office 365. Last month, they opened up for Lync users to call Skype users. Yay….! It’s going in the right direction. For the last 3-4 months they’ve been updating everyone to SharePoint 2013. And that’s going… Well just too damn slow, but it’s going. Yammer is now available for companies to subscribe to, in their Office 365. Also a good thing in the Office 365 world.

So why the fails of Office 365?

Have you ever tried implementing a Sandboxed solution that creates new sites? Well try it, and you’ll see what I mean. The stuff works around 70% of the time. It’s a 2010 thing, but it still deserves to be on the list.

Have you ever had your SharePoint Online SiteCollection crash on you for no apparent reason? Well try it and feel the pain when it takes the Support-Team one week to get a hold of the Operations-Team, and the Operations-Team 2 weeks to pick up the task and fix it. The first week was spent on fixing it. That failed. The second week was spent on restoring from backup. So 3 weeks

Have you ever tried to use your all-upgraded computer (IE10, I’m looking at you) with your trusted Windows 7 OS, to mount a SharePoint Library as a Shared folder? Well try it out and feel the bitter frustration, when it only works around Sct. Patricks day. I’m spending way too much time, uninstalling IE10 at most of my Clients at the moment.

External users. Also known as sharing. You can share your SharePoint Online site with an external user. All the user needs is a simple LiveID. Well go ahead and give that a spin while you at it. That stuff works sometimes. Never on Sct. Patricks day but always on Christmas eve, when you really need it. Sharing a SharePoint Site is as unstable as it gets. Based on experience, I would guesstimate that only around 50% of all external sharings goes according to plan. The other half takes a little more effort. And then sometimes it still breaks for external users, where it used to be working just fine.

90% of all customers on Office 365 are small or medium-sized businesses. Around 70% of the Fortune 500 companies use Yammer. All Fortune 500 companies really don’t qualify as small or medium-sized companies. I think it’s safe to say that Yammer are for large companies. Or at the very least it’s designed for medium and large companies. We at the small companies, just talk to each other during lunch. So why are the implementation of Yammer getting done, before my Clients are upgraded? Or before the IE10 problem is fixed.

There’s your problem

Prioritizing

Wrong prioritizing is one of the reasons why Office 365 is failing. The fancy stuff is getting more brain-time, than the basics. Yammer is important/expensive – I get that. But it’s not really the first thing on any of my clients lists. Or the second, or third. Small and medium-sized businesses needs stability around the basics for them to focus on their business and not their IT-systems.

Choices

Last time I checked, there was 15 different subscriptions to choose from to get access to SharePoint Online and 16 different subscriptions to choose from to get access to Exchange Online. Trying to compare the subscriptions is almost impossible as there are no official comparison-chart that is kept up-to date. It’s impossible or at least, pretty hard for the client to figure out what to choose. And for the Partners, is not a lot easier. Take a look at the Apple way of doing things. It’s a lot easier if you just have one version to cover it all.

Support

Support. Support at Microsoft Online division, is actually better than anyone in the business, in my experience. The problem is, that’s saying more about the business that Microsoft. Support and Service goes hand in hand, if you ask me. If I where to let one of my SharePoint On-Premise wander in the dark for 3 weeks, before they had their Primary Site Collection (The root one) restored, I would lose that Client in a heartbeat. Su Support is still a long way from being truly oriented at the Client and truly focused on fixing the Clients issues.

Apps.

3 years ago Microsoft told all, that the new black was named “Sandboxed solutions”. Now they have changed the name to Apps. Even your trusted old document library is now an App. Who in the name of all holy things took a look at Apple’s App-store and thought “Apps are what the young folks want, so lets just rename everything to fricking Apps. Let’s drop Sandboxed solutions and create our own App-Store”? I really don’t need apps all that much. First off, I need basic things to function proper. Read more about that and more,  at Bjørn Furuknaps blog post on the “death of SharePoint”: http://blog.furuknap.net/the-year-that-sharepoint-died.

WebDav

And why in the year of 2013 can’t Microsoft code a WebDav service for the Mac, so that the Mac users can mount SharePoint Libraries to their desktop. It’s one of the fundamental features of SharePoint and it doesn’t work on a Mac. You can get 3rd party-programs, but they all suck. Badly. I’ve tried most of them.

So why the Success of Office 365?

When you figure out which of the insanely amount of subscriptions, fits your needs, you can set up a fully functioning Exchange Online, Lync Online and SharePoint Online platform for your newly started company in just 1-2 hours. That means you get access to enterprise mail, enterprise communications and enterprise SharePoint and the latest and greatest Office Pro Plus. And all that for around $20,- a months per employee. Depending on your choice of subscriptions of course.

In the SharePoint Online world, you get access to roughly 85% of the same features you get access to in SharePoint On-Premise EnterPrise. On the On-Premise edition, you just add 3 zeros to that 20-dollar bill I mentioned before and pay it all at once.

You don’t have to worry about patching, backups and restore scenarios. You don’t have to worry about finding money for the next upgrade-project.

Conclusion

Microsoft… I like, support and work with Office 365 every day. And I will continue to do so. But could you please, either fix whats wrong or hire someone to help you. Do you need some advise on what to fix first, give me a call and I’ll gladly get you sorted. My Clients tell me that general trust in the platform is not all aces, when you can’t get your basics in order. But still it’s the best Cloud platform by far (IMHO), when it comes to Mail, Documents and Communication.

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