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Toyota going all in with Microsoft's Office 365

Microsoft has been fairly open in its push to the cloud. The pricing model for Office 2013 compared with Office 365 is clearly an effort to make Office 365 the more cost effective, no-brainer option. The plan seems to be working, too, as Microsoft announced this week that Toyota is making Office 365 available to it's 200,000 plus employees around the world.

At first glance, Office 365 seems like a service uniquely tailored for small and medium businesses, and maybe even consumers. A subscription-based cloud service managed by Microsoft works well for those who are less tech savvy, or who don't have an IT department at their disposal to administer it all. However, the same benefits and advantages that make Office 365 appealing to SMBs and consumers also hold true for large corporations.

Toyota apparently agrees--at least for the most part. According to a Microsoft blog post, "In addition to using Office 365, Toyota will provide its employees based in Japan and other overseas affiliates with on-premises versions of Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft Lync and Windows Server."

Employing a hybrid solution combining on-premise servers with Microsoft's cloud-based services gives Toyota the flexibility to choose the best solution on a case-by-case basis depending on business needs.

The monthly costs of the Office 365 subscription model will eventually surpass what it would cost Toyota to simply upgrade all employees to Office 2013. However, that isn't an apples to apples comparison. Office 2013 is just Office 2013, while Office 365 is Office, along with Exchange, SharePoint, Lync.

The monthly costs of Office 365 include the back end infrastructure, and the IT department to manage it as well. Office 365 puts the burden of hardware maintenance and software upgrades on Microsoft, and frees customers--like Toyota--to focus on running their business. When you factor in all of the costs associated with deploying and managing Office, Exchange, and SharePoint locally, Office 365 comes out as a clear winner in many cases.

Aside from cost and administration, another benefit of Office 365 is accessibility. Because it exists on the Internet as opposed to locally on specific PCs, users can access information, and use the tools in Office 365 from virtually anywhere in the world as long as they can get an Internet connection. The other side of that coin, though, is that if there is no Internet connection, there is no Office--so that has to be considered as well.

There's a lot to like about Office 365. If a global enterprise the size of Toyota can run its business using Office 365, it seems that other organizations should at least weigh the pros and cons and see if Office 365 might make sense for them as well.

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