Top Budgeting Mistakes When Comparing Office 365 to SharePoint and Exchange On-Premises

  1. Under-Estimating the Cost of SharePoint 2016 On-Premises

This is the most common mistake I see.  First, many information technology managers forget that SharePoint 2016 does not have a foundation license and therefore will need to purchase Standard or Enterprise client access licenses.  Second, information technology managers should budget for four or five servers to install SharePoint 2016 just to meet the minimum hardware requirements.  A single server is unlikely to meet the production needs for most organizations, this cost gets compounded when you look at the long term cost of server refreshes, warranty extensions, and future upgrades.  Third, information technology managers underestimate the administrative work required to keep a SharePoint farm healthy.


  1. Forgetting About Identity Management in the Cloud

Many organizations are already looking for ways to extend their Active Directory and identity management solutions to cloud applications, as well as share limited internal resources with external customers, vendors, and partners.  Office 365 has these capabilities “baked in” with secure external sharing, Azure Active Directory, and other cloud identity management tools.  Replicating these kinds of tools on-premises not only increases your hardware and expertise requirements, but can open you to additional security threats if not enabled and managed correctly.

Microsoft has made it easier to extend your Active Directory with tools like Azure Active Directory Connect which allows you to enable same sign-in and single sign-on technologies easily.  There are also technologies like EMS and Azure Active Directory Domain Services which create additional benefits that can actually make the cloud more secure than applications that once ran in your data center.


  1. Believing that Hybrid is Less Expensive than Cloud Only

We consulted with several customers this quarter who believed that running hybrid would save them money.  They were trying to avoid paying for licenses in the Microsoft cloud for some users.  In most cases, since you can’t match the scale of Microsoft, your organization can’t match the value they provide.  There are great reasons to run Hybrid such as unique security and compliance requirements or custom applications that you don’t want to re-write to run in the cloud.  Cost should not be the factor driving your organization towards hybrid Exchange or SharePoint.


  1. Not Including the Cost of Software You Can Stop Using

Hopefully you are running spam filtering and virus scanning software for your on-premises collaboration server environment.  Microsoft takes care of these for you in Office 365.  Email archiving software is not typically needed due to the large mailboxes sizes in Exchange Online.  Microsoft provides backup software and high availability as well.  Your team should also calculate whether or not you can reduce spending on conferencing services or products like WebEx or GoToMeeting and replace them with Skype for Business (included in many Office 365 plans).

With real-time reporting of the features and components that your organization is actually leveraging, you can make better decisions about what technologies to invest in, rather than rubber stamping additional hardware investments year after year.

Software you pay and don't use Office 365


  1. Cost of Managing External User Access

SharePoint Online provides access for unlimited external users.  Since external users utilize their company Office 365 or personal Microsoft credentials, your staff won’t be in the password reset business.  SharePoint on-premises provides external access via VPN or forms-based authentication (you need a license for users that are part your active directory).


  1. Budgeting for Migration Tools

If you are going to skip a version of SharePoint or a migration to Office 365 in most cases, you will need a migration tool.  A migration tool will also make moving to exchange online much easier.  Cutting over all users to Exchange Online at the same time will also reduce the complexity of the migration.

We hope this article will help you avoid some of the most common budgeting mistakes around Microsoft collaboration software. Please contac us if are considering moving to Office 365.

Author:  Kurt Greening

Editors:  Stephen Heister and Alex Finkel

Slack vs Office 365 Groups

Communication through email is vital in every organization.  However, sometimes email can be quite distracting to what is most urgent and important.  This is why services such as Slack and Office 365 Groups were created.  Slack launched back in August of 2013 and has had exponential growth since.  In just 6 months, Slack reached over 15,000 users and now they have over 3 million users!

Slack Exponential Growth

Source: Tech Crunch

After seeing how successful Slack is, Microsoft knew they needed to create something to compete with them, so they created Office 365 Groups.  Office 365 Groups are tightly integrated with their existing Office 365 services.  You can send group-wide emails, tag groups, and much more.  Below we are going to highlight a few of the key differences between Slack and Office 365 Groups.

Slack is available in both a mobile and desktop application.  There are various tiers of service listed here.  From a free plan with access to a few features, to an Enterprise plan (available soon) that has tons of exciting features.  The key differences between the plans are the amount of file storage you get for your team(s), the percent of up-time SLA, and the tech support services you get.  You can also connect various external apps to your groups in Slack such as Google Drive, OneDrive, Sway, Twitter, and much more.  One of the best features of Slack is the ability and quality of search.  You can search through conversations and even within documents inside of individual conversations.  This makes it significantly easier to find what you need, when you need it.

Office 365 Groups is quite different from Slack, it is not available as a stand-alone product.  You must have an Office 365 subscription to take advantage of Office 365 Groups.  You can learn about the different Office 365 personal subscriptions tiers here and the Enterprise and Government Office 365 tiers here.   For right now, unfortunately, Office 365 Groups is not available for personal subscriptions.  When you create an Office 365 Group, you get a mailbox, calendar, document library, OneNote notebook, and a planning tool for each group.  This makes it extremely easy to collaborate and communicate with your group/team throughout your Office 365 subscription.  In the coming weeks, Microsoft will be enabling a guest access feature for Office 365 Groups.   This means that you will be able to share your information with external users in Office 365.  Microsoft will also add Office 365 group capabilities into Yammer.  This will give users the ability to share information through Office 365 groups via Outlook or Yammer.

Just like Slack, there is a mobile app, but there is not desktop specific application for Office 365 Groups, instead it is integrated within the existing Office 365 apps.  But the key feature of Office 365 Groups is that it is integrated within Outlook 2016 as shown below:

Office 365 Groups in Outlook

In simple terms, Slack is just a chat room for your business, while Office 365 Groups lets users share common calendars, files, and OneNote notebooks.  Since Office 365 Groups is tightly integrated within Outlook, it feels very “right.”  Groups sit below your inbox, drafts, and other email folders, right where they should be.  Putting groups directly below your inbox and other mail folders makes users more likely to take advantage of it.  Using a separate app like Slack, may not have as high of an adoption rate among some users.  Soon, Groups will integrate with SharePoint team sites, enabling you to take advantage of these key features inside of your SharePoint sites.  Planner, a new Office 365 agile project management tool, is integrated with Office 365 Groups in the current preview version.

Slack and Office 365 Groups are similar in several ways.  They both are designed to decrease the amount of emails in your inbox.  Often, users have many things going on at once.  Email can actually be quite distracting when you are trying to stay focused on a particular topic or task.  With Slack and Office 365 Groups, you have one place for each topic or task so it is much easier to stay productive.  This is ideal of small teams, projects, or even larger departments.  The ability to connect to external apps is also available on both Slack and Office 365 Groups.

In conclusion, both Slack and Office 365 Groups are revolutionary ways to collaborate more effectively with your team.  However, they both offer some advantages and disadvantages, just as any other technology.  Slack is great for simple collaborative group chats, while Office 365 Groups includes much more features and capabilities due to its integration with the existing Office 365 apps and services such as SharePoint, Skype, and the Office apps (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, etc).

If your organization already has Office 365 or is considering moving to Office 365, we recommend testing out the capabilities of Office 365 Groups.  If your organization does not currently have Office 365 and will not likely move to it anytime soon, we recommend trying Slack.  You can get an Office 365 30-day free trial by contacting us.

If you have any questions or would like a free 30 minute consultation to see if Office 365 is right for you, don’t hesitate to contact us.


Update:  Microsoft recently announced Microsoft Teams to compete with Slack.  Teams is a chat-based workplace located inside of Office 365.  Your administrator can enable Teams in the Office 365 Admin center.  See the article here or watch the video below to learn more about Teams.

Microsoft Teams builds further on active directory groups.  If you like the functionality in Groups, you will likely benefit from the features in Teams.  Microsoft Teams has been in preview for months, but was released worldwide in March 2017.  Jeremy, from our friends at Hyperfish, released this article highlighting the features and the future of Teams:



Author:  Alex Finkel

Editor:  Kurt Greening