Bob Milliken
Bob Milliken

How many of us have not heard about Microsoft’s Office 365?  For those of you in the know, and perhaps even using the app, there is not much I will add to your understanding here. But, if you are unfamiliar with the app and would like to get a better understanding of what it can do for your business, then then read on.

Is Office 365 really the solution for your small business? The simple answer is yes.

For the record, Office 365 was launched in June 2011. It is a subscription based service (meaning you pay a monthly fee to use the system) that includes access to the familiar Office applications plus a suite of other productivity tools that are enabled over the internet.

Gone are the days when your employees had to do all their work from their one office computer. New technology enables your employees to work together in new and more efficient ways. With Office 365 your staff can collaborate at anytime from anywhere, whether it’s across the hall or across the country. You can start a document on your PC, finish it on your tablet and share it with your team! This means you can access the same interface and features whether you’re working from your mobile or on your PC.

What is the cloud? “The cloud” is a friendly way of describing web-based computing services that are hosted outside of your organization. When you use cloud-based services, your IT infrastructure resides off your property (off-premises). It’s maintained by a third party (hosted) instead of residing on a server that you maintain in your home or business (on-premises). With Office 365, for example, information storage, computation, and software are located and managed remotely on servers owned by Microsoft. All you need is an Internet connection.

Will Office 365 work with my copy of Office?  First – the latest version of Office 365 includes 2016 Office apps. Second – Office 365 is designed to work with the latest version of Office, Office 2016, Office 2013, and Office 2011 for Mac. Previous versions of Office, such as Office 2010 and Office 2007, may work with Office 365, but with reduced functionality. Office 2003 does not work.

How safe is my data? With Office 365, your data is safely hosted in one of Microsoft’s US datacenters. They follow best-in-class security processes and regular backup practices to meet strict compliance standards.

As good as it may seem, Office 365 does come with some significant drawbacks.  For starters, if you require your data to be stored on servers located in Canada, then Office 365 cannot be for you.  I’ll dive into the other things you need to consider before jumping into Office 365 in my next article.

Bob Milliken is the president of Cascadia Systems Group. Connect with Bob at, or give us a call – 604.270.1730. Your comments are appreciated –