What is Office 365 and how has it evolved in the past year? This week Jeremy Chapman is joined by Office 365 General Manager, Julia White, to answer that question and give a lightning tour and review of the latest Office 365 innovations. If you haven’t been following Office 365 developments or think its primarily cloud-based email or browser-based Office, you’ll want to check out this show.
This has been a huge week for Office 365 in transforming how we communicate and roll out change to Office 365 and its been a huge year for Office 365. In the past year we’ve had more than 100 new features added to Office 365, from device support with iOS and Android to advances in machine learning technologies – where information finds you without needing to search for it.
When we were planning for this show, we were both thinking about how often we hear “Office 365 is Exchange Online or Office in the browser.” Depending on when you first found out about Office 365 or what you try to compare it to, these comments tend to define Office 365 in a relatively narrow way. We also wanted to highlight what is Office 365 right now, because it is constantly adapting and evolving it makes sense to check in every once in a while to see where Office 365 has developed.
So I this week I’m joined by Julia White – General Manager on the Office 365 team – who has a unique perspective on how Office 365 has developed and the future of the service. Julia so how do you answer the question, “What is Office 365?”
I love that question, because what it is today is significantly evolved from a year ago and the same will be true the year after that. How we think about delivering modern office experiences on the devices people care about, the fidelity of the experience across different platforms as well as security and compliance controls at the foundation, all sum up to the 100 or so new capabilities that we’ve delivered over the past year.
We have a cloud-first engineering model that allows us to innovate and release new capabilities on anon-going cadence – with literally new capabilities coming weekly — which is huge shift from how we were able to deliver innovation before. It also means that we can respond faster to your needs and evolve the experiences we provide more dynamically.
The other piece of this is the level of integration that we are now able to deliver across Office 365. With on-premises Client and Servers, we used to just provide all the parts and IT would work to build those pieces into an integrated solution. Now everything is integrated right out of the box and enables a very holistic experience across all things Office 365. It’s more like getting the keys to your new car versus buying the parts to build your own a car. So it’s a complete, integrated productivity platform that allows you to work on any device and from anywhere.
How do you think about the components of Office 365?
Office 365 is a broad set of services – email, calendaring, file sync and share, conferencing, social – and we can’t forget the Office apps. We don’t limit ourselves to what can be run in the browser, we provide native apps for Windows, Mac, iPad, iPhone, and Android as well as Office Online in the browser. And all of these apps store their files to the same places in OneDrive for Business, so you can easily move from device to device and always get to your files.
What does this mean for the IT department?
Our focus with Office 365 has always been to enable IT with a rich control set. We need to ensure that Office 365 meets the needs of all the customers we serve. That extends from the compliance of how we operate Office 365 to the controls we provide IT. Those controls are very consistent with what we deliver for on-premises Exchange, SharePoint and Office workloads.
The out-of-box integrated services mean that IT doesn’t need to spend time building the foundation and getting each piece configured to interact, instead the IT department can further integrate with their systems to provide even more process integration. The new apps for Office model offers new extensibility options for securely integrating line-of-business services with Office 365. And we’ve recently seen exciting integration with services like Docusign.
Where do you see Office 365 going in the future?
The first place to start is the newly-launched public roadmap. With the service constantly evolving, we are also committed transparency with the changes coming. We are constantly listening to feedback from people using Office 365 and expanding the service to meet the needs of users and IT. For example, when we saw the storage needs of OneDrive for Business grow, we expanded to 1 TB per user. Of course, we’re also constantly adding capabilities for IT pros and developers as well and there are continual investments here around simplifying administrative control, increasing information protection across the stack and enabling faster and easier extensibility through the new Office 365 App Model.
Looking even further out though, what I really find exciting is how we can use machine learning and the cloud to provide personalized services – like we see with proactive search and discovery, real-time translation with Bing services or even Cortana in Windows Phone 8.1. We also use machine learning on the operational side to constantly improve how the service is run. The elasticity and compute power the cloud provides enables new opportunities to fundamentally change how people interact with technology.
Thank you Julia. You can check out the show to learn more and importantly to see a lightning demo of Office 365 across the board. On our next show we catch up with Technical Fellow and author, Mark Russinovich, to talk about the top five cloud security threats and how Office 365 and Azure does against those threats.