The Business Case for the Cloud: Upgrade to Microsoft 365

Migration to the cloud is 30-50% less expensive than upgrading on-premise infrastructure (Forrester). Learn how Microsoft 365 and Windows 10 can make your business more efficient, agile, and safe, all while saving money. In the following blog post, we will outline the four main reasons to make the switch.

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Andrew Newman

What is Microsoft 365?

Microsoft 365 can be an enterprise or SMB product that includes productivity, collaboration, and security applications, targeted towards medium to large businesses. There is a common misconception that Office 365 and Microsoft 365 are the same. While Office 365 does fall under the umbrella of Microsoft 365, it is just part of a wide range of offerings. There are multiple tiers and packages in the Microsoft 365 product range. This article will be purely focused on upgrading to Microsoft 365 and Office 365 at an enterprise level. Microsoft 365 is exclusively an enterprise product, but Office 365 can be purchased by individuals or small businesses.

For context, Office 365 packages come in three tiers of enterprise, E1, E3, and E5. These packages include all the traditional Microsoft Office apps (PowerPoint, Excel, Word, and OneNote), but they also include email through Outlook, cloud storage through OneDrive, and access to SharePoint. At the E5 level, Microsoft Teams is even included. The E5 subscription tier includes several security add-ons as well. These three packages include Power Apps, Power Automate, and Power Virtual Forms, all of which can be massive time and money savers due to their business process management capabilities.

Upgrade to Microsoft 365 and all these features will be included as well as many more. Most of the additional features included in Microsoft 365 center around security in terms of device management, compliance, threat protection, and identity protection. Cloud services are the key value proposition for upgrading to Microsoft 365. At the enterprise level this can mean vital protection for your organization data, reduction in risk, and increased return on investment. Windows Defender, Cortana, and Microsoft Intune are a few of these features that can be game changers for enterprises looking to protect themselves, save money, and keep their tools up to date. In this article, I will provide a clear overview of the four main reasons to upgrade to the cloud with Microsoft 365-leaving you with a concise business case. 

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Why Microsoft 365’s Cloud Communication Services are a Must-Have for Enterprise Clients

Reason 1 for Microsoft 365 upgrade: improved teamwork drive creativity and efficiency

The benefits of the cloud go far beyond storage. It is a way for all your organization’s devices and employees to always be on the same page, with the necessary software updates, as provided by Microsoft.

Communication and productivity tools, including Teams and Outlook, are a requisite tool for the modern business. Consolidating these tools to one subscription makes managing software simpler and can be a substantial money-saver. Some current Microsoft 365 subscribers are not even aware of their own software’s capabilities and will buy other communication tools such as Slack without even considering what they already have available to them.

Microsoft Teams, when used to its fullest extent, is a near one-stop platform for internal communication and collaboration. Direct messaging saves time compared to email and the creation of teams and subsequent channels within the Teams app allows users to segment their business. This improves communication on specific projects and within departments. Furthermore, Teams serves as a central storage for files that users collaborate on. Integrations with SharePoint, Office apps, Dynamics 365 Power BI, and other third-party applications give members the ability to edit records and projects within Teams, sharing these edits to collaborators in real-time.

These features are a must for a remote team to remain productive. Collaboration through cloud services means less time wasted on emails and information scouring. The Total Economic Impact™ study on Microsoft 365 conducted by Forrester found average savings of $150,000 over three years due to improved process efficiencies. The savings were magnified in remote settings.

Examples of Return on Investment (ROI) for Upgrading to Microsoft 365

Reason 2 for Microsoft 365 upgrade: return on investment

On-premise installations have been inferior to cloud deployments for many years, and this is continually being amplified. The amount of time and effort that goes into hardware and software maintenance is an unnecessary resource-sink. Corporations can be persuaded to keep their inefficient, money-draining infrastructure due to the sunk cost fallacy. However, while some may believe they can’t afford to change, the opposite statement is often more correct. This becomes apparent when we look at Microsoft 365 ROI for companies that moved to the cloud.

Rackspace, a cloud computing company, claim they have saved $411,000 annually in licensing costs by switching to OneDrive. This is a valuable example of how much money organizations can save by auditing their current service providers and comparing to other solutions. By switching, they were also able to add the Microsoft 365 productivity suite at no extra cost.

A 2014 Forrester study created a composite organization for data analysis purposes from a survey of 60 companies that switched from on-premise to the cloud with Office 365 and Microsoft 365. The results were as follows:

  • Full payback of investment in the first seven months
  • 162% return on investment (ROI) over a three-year period
  • 466% internal rate of return (IRR) over a three-year period

The Microsoft 365 benefits that they attribute these savings to are increased mobile access to information, reliable device compliance, business intelligence, streamlined enterprise communication, and reduced IT effort. Less risk, less worker hours dedicated to maintenance, and greater efficiency all around make Microsoft 365 a worthwhile investment for enterprise. Investments in deployment were typically 30-50% lower for cloud-based applications according to Forrester.

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Security Benefits of Upgrading to Microsoft 365

Reason 3 for Microsoft 365 upgrade: stronger security and compliance

Perhaps the most pressing reason to switch to Microsoft 365 is the enhanced security. Included in Microsoft 365 are essential security software including, Defender, Intune, and certain Azure features. Microsoft invests over $1 billion into security every year to ensure their users receive the most advanced services possible.

Microsoft Defender includes several features to protect against threats. Defender Antivirus and Defender for Endpoint (available at the E5 tier) work together to identify and react to a potential breach. Defender for Endpoint conducts automated investigation and remediation, telling the user a story about the type of threat that occurred. Along with the data collection abilities of Defender Antivirus that build threat analytics, these tools greatly reduce the possibility of a data breach. At the E3, less comprehensive tier of Microsoft 365, Defender Antivirus is available as a standalone and will be highly useful for threat detection. Defender for Endpoint and Antivirus in tandem are even stronger.

The other aforementioned tools, Intune and Azure, enhance security in a different way. Intune allows IT to manage the entire enterprise network of devices and manage user access. This includes compliance and setting rules for corporate-owned devices. Even extending to personal devices that house business information. Intune can separate personal data from company data, keeping an organization’s data safe. Azure Threat Analytics and Threat Protection integrate machine learning into your cybersecurity, identifying and protecting from threats. Threat Protection is useful for ensuring email attachments and links are safe, advising users against accidentally downloading a malicious file. Moreover, encryption for text and files to keep content only visible to intended audiences is a valuable feature available with Microsoft 365.

The financial benefits of upgrading security with Microsoft 365 are profound. As workplaces become increasingly remote, device compliance and ensuring data safety become even more of a pressing issue. Cloud security tools allow for the necessary monitoring, while cloud-connected tools such as OneDrive help mitigate the threat of ransomware because files are backed up. The cost of ransomware for an on-premise business can be immeasurable as it can include data loss, customer support downtime, customer data loss, and recovery effort. Trusting a large corporation with the vast human capital and cybersecurity tools of Microsoft to keep your data safe, is typically a strong option for any company looking to hedge their cyber risk. Especially for businesses without sufficient IT knowledge in-house, this will be cheaper and more effective than hiring a team full-time.

Reduced IT Involvement and Effort

Reason 4 for Microsoft 365 upgrade: simplified and agile IT management

This has been alluded to throughout the post, but it is important to emphasize the time and effort savings that the cloud provides for IT teams. Cloud solutions offer more flexibility necessary for growing businesses, making user onboarding far simpler. Remediation time is decreased with Microsoft 365 because of data backups to OneDrive. Additionally, assistance from Microsoft’s experts give your IT team the support they need, something that is not offered on products that have experienced end of life. These factors in tandem all mean massive return on investment for enterprises.

End of Life for Windows 7 and the Benefits of Upgrading to Windows 10

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Many legacy products from Microsoft, such as Windows 7, have experienced end of support. If you have a product on-premise that is no longer supported, this is a significant security risk for your company, as your software is no longer being updated. This makes organizations with on-premise infrastructure obvious targets for hackers and ransomware. This could mean thousands of dollars lost for your company and your network is only as strong as your weakest link/device.

Support for Windows 7 ended on January 14, 2020. While the platform will continue to function, it will no longer be updated. This means that Windows 7 users are all using security that is at least one and a half years old at the time of writing. With how fast tech and cybersecurity are forced to adjust and improve, this should worry Windows 7 users. Thankfully, the newer alternative, Windows 10, is constantly being updated to keep users safe.

Windows 10 is Microsoft’s most secure operating system to date, with a host of new features. Windows Defender Antivirus for enterprise, containers to protect data even when a system is compromised, Device Guard to protect against the estimated 300,000 new malware samples daily, and advanced identity protection features. Multi-factor authentication including facial recognition and device PINs through Windows Hello make your devices more difficult to compromise than ever before.

Another Forrester study, looking into the Total Economic Impact™ of Windows 10’s security features, produced some impressive financial data to convey the financial benefits of Windows 10 when compared to alternatives. The three key benefits they outlined were:

  1. Avoided costs of third-party solutions
  2. Avoided productivity loss due to malware
  3. Avoided costs of password resets
Windows Hello security feature on a Windows laptop

Firstly, Windows 10 avoided costs for third-party security solutions. This ended up being the primary money-saver outlined in the study. For their theoretical composite organization, created from customer interview data, $3.2 million in third-party security costs were avoided. Third-party solutions are a tricky proposition because they tend to be complex and difficult to maintain internally. Organizations often are forced to dedicate their own IT time and effort to maintenance of these programs. IT visibility can also be hindered with third-party solutions due to fragmenting, making issues more difficult to diagnose. With Windows 10, Microsoft handles system maintenance with frequent updates through the cloud.

Secondly, the study focused on productivity loss due to malware, estimating the three-year risk adjusted value in this area for Windows 10 at $1.1 million. Infections on endpoints in Windows 10 were about two-thirds less frequent than Windows 7 or 8. Of these infections, data loss and wipe-and-reload remediation were needed far less often. This results in less data loss and less time going into recovery. A reduction in recovery time and downtime saves productivity. This equates to less lost business and greater efficiency.

Lastly, password resets were a key focus of this study. Forrester found the average cost of a password reset to be $30.88 for 1.5 password changes per endpoint user, annually. This cost is the direct result of time dedicated to recovering lost passwords and security risk. Across a large organization with many endpoints, this cost adds up quickly. Windows Hello can virtually eliminate the need for password changes, saving massive amounts of money and stress.

Generally, having security integrated into your operating system, as is the case for Windows 10, reduces hassle. When issues arise, there is only one organization to contact, and the security was specifically built for that OS.  

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Office 2010 End of Life

Office 2010 is a similar story to Windows 7, with support having expired on October 13, 2020. Many of the security risks associated with Windows 7 end of life also apply to Office 2010. No future updates leave users at a far greater risk of spyware, malware, and viruses. Microsoft 365 is currently being offering a free month for those looking to switch, which can be accessed through this link.

Takeaways and Resources for Upgrading

The main takeaways from this article are as follows:

  • Microsoft 365 makes collaboration easier and communication faster with Teams and Outlook
  • Cloud solutions often pay for themselves, even within the first year
  • Security benefits of the cloud through Microsoft 365 and Windows 10 are far superior to their legacy counterparts with expired support
  • Cloud solutions simplify operations for your IT department and make your business more agile

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