Most end users expect Microsoft® productivity tools like SharePoint®, Exchange and Skype® for Business to “just work.” But in reality, implementing a business-wide solution to enable employee communication is a complex proposition, and taking a DIY approach to deploying and managing these tools can significantly strain IT resources.
For instance, optimally architecting and configuring these applications requires extensive Microsoft expertise. Then, once the tools are up and running, IT teams need to handle maintenance, patching, migrations, security and monitoring. These factors can significantly diminish the potential return on investment (ROI) from Microsoft productivity solutions.
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One viable solution is to utilize a a managed cloud hosting provider. In addition to supplying raw infrastructure, vendors like Rackspace® offer guidance from engineers and architects with real-world Microsoft hosting experience. They also take over maintenance, troubleshooting and other tasks, which drastically simplifies the implementation and management of SharePoint, Exchange and other Microsoft tools. This, in turn, helps businesses realize key benefits such as improved efficiency, while minimizing costs and IT headaches.
In addition to handling the implementation and management pieces, managed cloud hosting providers also offer expertise and services to help businesses overcome a range of other important challenges, including:
Selecting the Right Tools
Larger organizations already using applications such as SharePoint or Exchange often look to take advantage of additional collaboration tools such as Skype for Business, but may need help evaluating feasibility and understanding how these new tools will fit within their current environment. The right company can help organizations make informed decisions about which productivity applications will add the most value to their business, and how to best implement and support them.
Integrating Multiple Apps
Today’s users expect to collaborate seamlessly, even across multiple productivity and communications tools. Managed cloud providers offer customers access to integration specialists—which many companies lack—to ensure all functionality is optimally deployed (e.g., enabling users to respond to emails with instant messages).
Companies that take a DIY approach to managing collaboration tools must typically inflate IT headcount and reallocate existing staff to handle tasks such as patching email servers when they could instead be pursuing projects that add business value. By leveraging managed cloud vendors to support productivity tools, businesses benefit from economies of scale not only related to infrastructure, but also to expertise. As a result, they avoid swelling payrolls with operational engineers who don’t differentiate the business.
When email, chat or video conferencing go down, business grinds to a halt—especially with more and more employees working remotely. Without the expertise to architect collaboration applications for high availability, or the 24/7/365 support to troubleshoot issues, businesses risk extended downtime that can cost them thousands or even millions of dollars. With the right managed service provider, companies can rest easy knowing they have the SLAs and support in place for high uptime.
With the frequency of breaches today, securing the information that employees exchange via email and other collaboration tools must be a key concern. However, when companies choose to manage tools like Exchange and SharePoint on their own, the security patching and update process is seldom done in a timely manner—or, if it is, other projects suffer. This often results in dangerous vulnerabilities. Utilizing a service provider ensures timely patching and monitoring to help eliminate these risks, as well as offering businesses access to valuable security expertise and guidance on how to best protect their environment.
All in all, a DIY approach to implementing and managing productivity and collaboration tools may seem like the shortest route to meeting immediate business requirements. But in reality, the DIY path can be fraught with challenges, delays, unexpected expenses and potential missteps that diminish the ROI of Microsoft solutions.
Leveraging a managed cloud provider like Rackspace can help businesses choose, deploy, migrate and maintain the right tools to engage users quickly and without costly incidents. With another organization’s infrastructure engineers and Microsoft application experts handling the heavy lifting, businesses can allocate in-house IT resources to tackle high-value, strategic projects.
Rackspace is the No. 1 managed cloud company with a long history of successfully supporting a wide portfolio of Microsoft applications and productivity tools. Rackspace has experience supporting over 300,000 customers, including over 4.5 million users of productivity tools.
A leader in the 2014 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud Enabled Managed Hosting
The largest hosting provider of SharePoint outside of Microsoft
A 5-time Microsoft Hosting Partner of the Year
A Microsoft Gold Certified partner
One of the largest providers of hosted Exchange
All Rackspace solutions are backed by our award-winning Fanatical Support®, so businesses can have confidence knowing they have a trusted team of specialists on hand to help them manage the tools they rely on to power their business.