Survey Has Good/Bad News for Office 365

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As Microsoft prepares to launch its Office 365 public cloud-based online services suite, a new study has both good and bad news for the software giant's plans, particularly in the area of unified communications (UC), one of the feature sets provided by the suite.

The new study by Osterman Research, which was commissioned by managed services provider (MSP) Azaleos, found that, among organizations not currently using a public cloud-based UC service, only 10 percent plan to deploy such a service within the next year.

The news isn't all bad, however.

"Asked if they had to choose a public-cloud UC provider, one-third [of the study's respondents] said they would choose Microsoft Office 365," the study said.

That tends to jive with an earlier study which Osterman performed for Azeleos regarding adoption of UC services last summer, especially in reference to Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) recently released Lync Server 2010.

That earlier study found that 30 percent of respondents planned to deploy Lync Server 2010 within a year of its release. Unified communications, or UC, integrates enterprise voice over IP (VoIP), instant messaging, and Web connectivity, along with audio and video conferencing.

UC based on Lync 2010 is one of the key services that will be provided with Office 365, which will replace Microsoft's existing Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS).

Although Microsoft won't officially confirm it, most observers expect the software titan to announced "general availability" of its new online services suite -- dubbed Office 365 -- on Tuesday in New York.

Office 365 will provide customers with online versions of Exchange 2010, SharePoint 2010, and Lync 2010, along with the Web-based Microsoft Office Web Apps and the ability to license Office 2010 Professional on a per user/per month basis.

The latest Osterman report is entitled "Cloud Realities in the Age of Office 365."

It found that among the biggest hurdles for enterprise customers that are considering moving services into the cloud are issues of security and uptime with public cloud versus private cloud deployments.

"While the survey found that the majority of enterprises will continue to deploy UC in on-premise and/or private-cloud infrastructures over the next several years, the public cloud-based messaging and collaboration market is slowly gaining popularity," the study said.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.

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