Toward the end of 2008, a bit more than ten years ago, I shut down my previous business on Cape Cod, shut down the old Microsoft Small Business Server 2003, and shut down a few other servers for the last time. Instead, I went to the cloud. Ironically, I became certified with Microsoft as a Small Business Specialist in mid-2008, the same year that I abandoned Small Business Server for myself.
To replace the email functionality of SBS 2003, I went to Microsoft’s Hosted Exchange, actually provided by a Canadian company, SherWeb, who is still very much in business and still a Gold Microsoft Partner. For only a few dollars (I think it was $10-12) a month, I had all the features of the on-premises server-based Exchange, as well as document storage in the cloud with SharePoint, which came with the subscription as part of the packaged bundle.
For my two line-of-business (LOB) IT management tools, I elected each of their cloud-based versions. Same with the phone system – the IP PBX was now placed in the cloud.
I kept running QuickBooks locally for some time, although the data file and the backup file were both stored in SharePoint. Inuit doesn’t recommend this, but I was solo at that point, so there was no sharing of the working QuickBooks file. Eventually, though, I moved to QuickBooks Online.
Microsoft Office 365 was officially launched in late June 2011. I stayed with Microsoft’s Hosted Exchange for about six months but then moved to this new platform in January of 2012. That was over 7 years ago.
Since then, I have been introducing Office 365 to my customers, and no one is left that isn’t subscribed to this cloud-based platform.
When I first started with Office 365, what is now OneDrive for Business was then called SkyDrive Pro. I can’t tell you what improvements I’ve seen since then. What an evolution that I’ve experienced first-hand.
And now I use Microsoft 365 Business, which is a bundle of Office 365 Business Premium, Windows 10 Pro, and Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS). EMS is the umbrella for several Microsoft technologies, such as Intune for device management, Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection, Azure AD, and Azure Information Protection. My subscription was a break-even upgrade from Office 365 Enterprise E3, which was also $20 per month.
I also have an Office 365 Enterprise E1 account for email@example.com, which is more closely related to the Hosted Exchange account I had long ago with SherWeb. But with this Enterprise account, I can associate my Phone System and Calling Plan subscriptions. Unfortunately, Microsoft’s VoIP offering cannot be added to Microsoft 365 Business, but only available as an add-on to an E-level plan. I have to say that after using many VoIP systems in the past, I am very pleased with this Office 365 and Microsoft Teams-integrated phone system.
It’s been a long ride and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.