I, like most in the modern IT industry, have spent most of my working life installing, configuring, and maintaining Microsoft products, ranging from Active Directory and Exchange through Terminal Services and MSSQL Server. Most of these products have had extra layers of third-party software on top (Citrix MetaFrame, anyone?) or blended in to make them work better. In many cases, they were not a best-in-class product, although this has improved over time. Apache far outstrips IIS, and vSphere is still a good way ahead of Hyper-V, feature-wise. The gaps are closing, though, and Microsoft’s product set is maturing. Microsoft’s products often have been the more expensive option. There are numerous UNIX mail servers that outperform Exchange for raw message transport functions. However, there has always been one killer feature, one tie that has bound all of the systems together, making the Microsoft option the only option.
Eschewing the virtual desktop for the truly virtual, Microsoft has announced its next generation productivity suite bringing together Microsoft Office, SharePoint Online, Exchange Online and Lync Online in an always-up-to-date cloud service.
Office 365 will be delivered in early 2011 and will be available in two flavors; one targeted at small business and the other targeted at enterprises. Until then Microsoft has opened a limited beta program for Office 365 is available 13 countries – sign-up is available here for people who can’t wait until next year to experience it . Although given the evident enthusiasm at the time of announcement it may well be that all available spaces will have been exhausted by now. Continue reading Microsoft Office 365 – Coming soon to a cloud near you