Business Software

Will Office 365 Get You Fired?

Cause for Optimism

Well, yes and no -- if you're being paid an exorbitant amount of money to care for a small business with on-premises infrastructure, and your employer hasn't come to the realization that you're milking this job, yes, you should fear that upper management might read about Office 365. If all you want to do when you come into the office is check to see if the drives are green and hot-swap the red ones (if that ever happens), you might have an employment issue coming your way. Why? Have you been living under a rock? Do you not know that Office 365 (the slightly cooler named BPOS successor) is the endgame according to Microsoft?

Mr. Carter, however, was optimistic. His take was that modern admins will have plenty of work to do. If they're willing to evolve, they'll find that Office 365 still requires plenty of administration in many cases. But relieved of the added workload -- putting out fires, fighting with clustering, or dealing with hardware issues -- admins will instead have the opportunity to find ways to enhance the organization through IT. That is, these admins can make their people more productive so that ultimately it adds to the company's bottom line. Nobody who can do that will be looking for work in the near future.

I agree with him. I see this as the end of the era of the Exchange admin/god. We've seen this before. When the IT admin went from being a rarity to a ubiquitous position (late '90s/early 2000s), many upped their game by specializing in database administration or messaging. And those in the Exchange world have been pretty safe as demigods for 10 years.

But it's time to evolve yet again. While retaining your on-premises savvy, you need to learn how to play nice with cloud-based Exchange through Office 365 as well. You should also diversify your knowledge and look into solutions such as Unified Messaging, Lync, and SharePoint. They all fall within Microsoft's Unified Communications and Collaboration (UCC) focus, and your skills with these technologies will add to your value in the workplace.

In the end, if you fix your attention in the right direction, you may not lose your position, but rather, cement it firmly. The key may not be hiding Office 365 from your employer in the false hope it will save you; instead, you'll have to become its in-house champion (if it truly benefits your company) or expert naysayer (if it truly doesn't fit).

There are plenty of locked-in limitations to Office 365 -- the lack of public folder support, the limitations on attachments over 25MB, the cost per user, and so forth -- that may make it unwise for your company. But you should be the one to map out the pros and cons to upper management. If you don't tell them, they'll get their information somewhere else: out on the street or, more specifically, from the Internet.

This article, "Will Office 365 get you fired?," was originally published atInfoWorld.com. Read more of J. Peter Bruzzese's Enterprise Windows blog and follow the latest developments in Windows at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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