At the ISTE Conference this past June, Microsoft officially announced general availability of Office 365 for Education. This cloud based communications and collaboration platform hosted by Microsoft was launched for businesses a little over a year ago, however, prior to June, it was only available to a handful of early adopters in education.
B2B Technologies has already helped numerous businesses and early adopters in education migrate to Office 365. For example, we began working with Georgia State University on the migration of all faculty and staff to Office 365 while the service was still in beta. GSU went live less than a month after the commercial release and a recent case study estimates that the University will save $1 million over the next 5 years.
Since the ISTE announcement, there has been a growing interest in Office 365 among our education clients. This is the first in a series of blog entries where we will address many of the questions we have heard and share what we have learned about the platform. This post provides an overview of Office 365 for Education and explores how the suite of online services can enhance the teaching and learning experience while helping schools reduce the cost and effort related to running similar services on premise.
Goodbye Live, Hello Office
If you are reading this, you are likely already familiar with Live@edu. Office 365 for Education is the successor to Live@edu and, like Live@edu, offers educational institutions a powerful set of hosted communications and collaboration services including Exchange based email at no cost. In the coming months, Live@edu schools will be upgraded to the new platform. It is tempting to view Office 365 for Education as simply the next version of Microsoft Live@edu. However, Office 365 for Education is fundamentally and significantly different in terms of both functionality and delivery. The result is an extremely compelling solution that extends and improves upon the Live@edu experience in almost every way.
Live@edu was initially built on Microsoft's Live consumer services with Hotmail providing email and LiveIDs used for authentication into the system. While Hotmail has been replaced with Exchange, Live@edu still relies on LiveID authentication and leverages Live services such as Live Messenger and SkyDrive to round out the collaborative experience. As a result, Live@edu is a unique mix of enterprise and consumer services.
Built for Enterprise, Priced for Education
Office 365 was created with businesses, government and education in mind and was designed to meet the diverse needs and demands for a variety of organizations. With that in mind, the capabilities are the same, the provisioning and management options are the same, and data is hosted in the same data centers. The biggest difference is cost. The same services that businesses (including B2B Technologies) are paying for remain free for education. For reference, the Education A2 licensing is equivalent to the E2 plan for enterprise: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/office365/education/compare-plans.aspx.
For more information on Office 365 for education and what to expect, check back in the next few weeks for Part 2 of this blog series.