Understanding the Limitations of Microsoft Office 365

20 August 2015

Many organizations have considered a move to Microsoft Office 365. Building on Microsoft’s suite of products Office 365 includes a number of options to move enterprise content and communications to the cloud. For those with a legacy Microsoft-centric IT environment, it makes sense to at least consider the move.

However, there are several limitations in Office 365’s ability to deliver an effective content collaboration solution. For many IT professionals migrating to Office 365 will mean augmenting their Microsoft investment with a third party tool. This, paired with varying levels of maturity across Microsoft’s services, has many considering their options.

Here are a few considerations before making the switch:

Is your workforce mobile?

Mobility is increasingly important. Today’s workforce is distributed and mobile. While Microsoft provides native mobile apps for services including Yammer and OneDrive, there are limited native apps for SharePoint. Consider the needs of your workforce. Do they need a mobile app or is a desktop solution sufficient?

How often do you work with external third parties?

Office 365 shifts the model to user licenses. This means that if employees attempt to collaborate on content with external users, the experience may be limited unless that external user is also provided with a dedicated license. For most organizations, budgeting for licenses (and support) across groups of non-employees is an unlikely scenario. Before making the switch consider how much your employees work with external third parties.

Are you suffering from data sprawl?

With the varying (and sometimes overlapping) degrees of file sharing and collaboration functionality of Office 365, it can be confusing for users to know where different files should be stored. If users are unsure where they should store content, the organization risks content duplication, and loss of version control over multiple data silos. Even worse, users will become so frustrated, they'll default to the lowest common denominator and use email to share content.

How important is data residency?

Concerns about regulatory compliance, legal jurisdiction, corporate reputation, security and privacy, make the location of data storage an important consideration for many organization. Further, data location can affect network performance. For organizations in some countries, the location of Microsoft data centers might not offer a satisfactory solution. For example, Microsoft does not operate a data center in the UK.

Does size matter?

All Office 365 collaboration and file sharing services (OneDrive, OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online) have a 2GB file size limit. For some businesses file size doesn’t matter, but others routinely share and collaborate on very large files. If the latter is you, you’ll want to take a close look at Office 365’s file capacity before making the switch.