Microsoft Office 365 and Azure for SMEs: Made for Each Other

It's all about convenience


Small scale companies and startups don’t usually have a lot to work with in terms of resources mostly financial. As such, one has to be keen on where they are channeling their money to. Since hardware infrastructure – talk servers and the like – is normally expensive, this should not stand in the way of a young business’ ambition. There are several tools that make things easier by taking that burden off the shoulders of the small business and letting them concentrate on their core product.


One such product is Azure. Azure is Microsoft’s cloud platform. Simply put, it is a network of data centres spread globally that will take up the work of hosting applications instead of one investing in their own infrastructure and as a result incurring other costs like manpower and maintenance charges. Or as Microsoft sums it up, it is its “application platform for the public cloud”. On top of that, Microsoft also provides tools to make the integration seamless. One can learn more about Azure here.

Office 365

For a small business, certain things need to be done. Emails. Some paperwork that will certainly involve numbers and, of course, making presentations. Naturally, Microsoft’s Office suite is better suited to these tasks than anything else. Since we’re just from talking about Microsoft’s cloud product, Azure, we won’t take some steps backwards and go the old route again. Yes Microsoft offers the traditional Office suite setup where you buy once and use for good but where does that leave you in terms of the latest updates?

Picture this: last year, users of Office 365 were the first to get the new Office 2016 since they are subscribers. If you had Office 2013, you needed to go out and buy a new license for Office 2016. At affordable prices and with multiple users catered for, Office 365 is a no-brainer for everyone – students, small businesses, large organizations etc.

Updates aside, Office 365 guarantees users that nothing is lost. With a tie-in to Microsoft’s cloud storage service OneDrive, documents, spreadsheets, presentations, notes and sketches are saved directly to a user’s set online storage. This also makes it easier to collaborate. One can add comments or even use the free monthly Skype minutes that accompany each Office 365 package to make actual voice calls to one another and get things done. Office 365 Home users (up to 5 of them), for instance, have 60 minutes worth of free Skype to telephone calls per user every month. Large organizations may have a monthly phone budget and its easy for employees in such places to just reach out for the desk phone and call colleagues to work out minor changes to some important work. It’s not the same case for an SME and this is where Office 365 comes in.

There are even new solutions to make messaging in such environments less formal and easy-going. Send, the solution in question first debuted on the iPhone a year ago and later on Android.

For presentations, it is not just about PowerPoint, there is a new application that Microsoft launched last year: Sway. Sway is meant for digital storytelling so it can help users and small businesses tell their story or, better yet, design campaigns like newsletters and client pitches. And just to be sure whatever it is a small business is working on does not get leaked to the outside world or its competitors, Sway, in Office 365 for Work, allows for anything created to be secured with a password just like one would on a Word document or an Excel workbook. Oh, and one more thing, while everyone can take Sway for a spin, only Office 365 subscribers can customize it further and personalize their works by removing the Microsoft Sway informational footer.

It doesn’t matter what device you are using. Microsoft’s Office solutions are solid on both the desktop and mobile (see a quick outlook here). Azure setups too can be managed on the go.