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Microsoft touts Office 365 wins, but customers want more

Juan Carlos Perez | March 28, 2013
Microsoft is trumpeting Office 365 customer successes at its U.S. Public Sector CIO Summit, but some of those otherwise happy clients have a wish list of features and enhancements they'd like to see in the vendor's cloud email and collaboration suite.

A more robust, native enterprise search capability in Office 365 would also be welcome by King County, especially once it rolls out its cloud-based intranet, he said.

Kehoe also thinks Microsoft could improve its process for updating Office 365 on its back end by giving customers more advance notice that these upgrades are happening and what changes they'll introduce, so IT departments are ready.

"Microsoft has been unable to pinpoint for us when a specific upgrade will occur given the cloud environment of Office 365," he said. This makes it difficult for his department to alert the agencies it serves about possible impacts to SharePoint services stemming from the upgrade. Luckily the upgrades themselves have gone smoothly so far, he added.

His team is also working with Microsoft to make sure King County's network connectivity is designed optimally to work with Office 365, to avoid performance issues, which affect the satisfaction and efficiency of end users. In the past, King County had video conferencing quality problems because its network wasn't configured properly to work with BPOS.

Unlike King County, the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority is using Office 365 mostly for email and calendaring. This has allowed it to free up IT department staffers from doing routine administration and management tasks on its now shut down on-premise Exchange servers, and instead focus on more valuable, airport-specific IT work.

"There's a lot of time and effort involved in the care and feeding of on-premise servers, including applying patches, updating the OS, doing security upgrades, and so on," said Howard Kourik, IT director at the Airport Authority.

Kourik would like Microsoft to be more proactive and detailed whenever it has an Office 365 outage or performance glitch, because he finds that the system status website doesn't provide enough clarity and information in these instances.

Other improvements Kourik would like to see are better functionality for system administrators to search email inboxes and archives in response to public information or legal requests, as well as better features for recovering files that end users delete by mistake.

 

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