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Jul 27 2012   12:54PM GMT

Dell puts its stamp on Office 365

Matt Gervais Matt Gervais Profile: Matt Gervais

Yesterday Dell announced it has teamed with Microsoft to release Microsoft Office 365 with Dell, giving small- to medium-sized businesses another cloud option.

For those not familiar with Office 365, it is Microsoft’s cloud collaboration suite and offers the online versions of Microsoft Exchange Server, SharePoint, Lync and Office Web Apps.

The primary benefit of Office 365 with Dell appears to be that customers now have access to Dell’s service staff instead of Microsoft’s. Where Dell’s customer service has been lauded, Microsoft’s has been less than stellar thus far.

“Dell has gotten really good at support. It’s a pleasant experience and they always have experts on hand,” said Carl Brooks, an analyst with Tier 1 research.

“Many people who have migrated to Office 365 have been frustrated,” added Mike Crowley, an Exchange MVP and Enterprise infrastructure architect with Planet Technologies. “If you have a question or configuration problem, [Microsoft doesn’t] give you a lot of help.”

What about that price creep?

Interested customers will also note that Office 365 with Dell touts a $9 per-user price, more than Microsoft’s heavily promoted $6 per-user price.

One of the drawbacks for companies that move to Office 365 is that they’re not allowed to integrate any of their custom applications or third-party tools they’ve invested in with Office 365. They lose access to archiving tools, monitoring and reporting and too many other things to list here.

Because you’re working with Dell, you’ll have access to Dell’s add-ons, hopefully lessening the blow of lost applications and products.

“Dell is playing to [its] strengths here,” added Brooks. “It has gone from a personal consumer product company to more of a server, IT services and support company. Hosting is just one thing Microsoft does; it is not an area of expertise.”

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