The rebranding and launch of Office 365 has been touted by many commentators as an exercise in marketing. It’s far from it. Others have claimed it’s not suitable for small businesses. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The new small business offering (Office 365 Plan P1) can bring a massive improvement in productivity without a large IT bill. Smaller businesses running older servers now don’t need to replace these servers and can move straight to the Cloud.

I have already migrated several clients to the Beta version of Office 365 who are already enjoying the system’s benefits, including the vastly improved 2010 versions of Exchange, SharePoint and Lync. The P1 package is somewhat of a bargain considering what businesses get from it.

As a company largely focussed on bringing the cloud advantage to smaller companies, the 5-user minimum imposed by the BPOS system was quite off putting to start ups, sole traders and growing companies. With Office 365 this minimum user level has now gone.

This means that small businesses can start out with Office 365 and let it grow organically with them. Such growth helps companies avoid a Tech Crunch (what a company’s infrastructure reaches critical mass and a large IT spend is required) which has traditionally played havoc as companies grow.

Companies can also be subject to data loss or failure with traditional on-premises systems and when it happens it hits all companies really hard. With the Cloud’s automatic backup features companies are protected against this data loss which, when suffered, is regularly terminal. ‘60% of companies that lose their data will shut down within 6 months of the disaster’ (

Office 365 does in fact represent a real landmark in the world of Cloud Computing. The main advantage of the Cloud subscription model is the fact that your services will be automatically updated. That means your move to the Cloud will be the last time you ever need to upgrade your server equipment.