With 120 million business users of Microsoft Office 365 worldwide, the service is trusted by many companies. There are many advantages of Office 365 including access to emails and files so you can work from anywhere in the world on any device, all loaded into cost-effective packages. However, Office 365 has various limitations that can affect business operations.
1. High demand can lead to loss of services
Because Office 365 is a service hosted by the third-party, Microsoft, they might add, modify, update and remove services when they see fit. This is usually for the betterment of the service for all users, but unprecedented circumstances can lead to decisions being made that could affect your productivity.
The Coronavirus outbreak has led to many businesses shifting their workforce away from the office with tasks being completed through cloud-based platforms. Because of this, all cloud platforms, such as Office 365, have seen huge demand increases. With demand for Office 365 usage trebling since the outbreak, certain services have had to be throttled to ensure the rest of the service runs smoothly.
ZDNet reported that OneNote, SharePoint, and Stream would have services limited during these busy periods. With limitations added to the size of file uploads/downloads and reduced video playback resolution. Microsoft labelled these as “non-essential”, but for some businesses those services are.
Microsoft Azure users were also coming up against limitations when running their virtual machines, with Microsoft prioritising health-related workloads.
Throttling of services could happen at any time, and while Microsoft communicates such actions, the potential for it happening often when back in the office could leave your business struggling to complete tasks when needed.
2. Internet limitations can cause issues
Depending on your internet service provider and where you’re located, any business could be hit by problems with their internet connection. With Office 365 being an online service, if your internet is down, completing work and accessing emails becomes difficult. There are Office 365 features that require an internet connection at all times, affecting your service during down time.
Unless your business opts for the Office 365 plan that allows installations of desktop versions of Office software Word, PowerPoint and Excel, work stops during an internet outage. With a desktop version, work can be completed offline with changes synced once the connection is restored.
3. Data privacy is in the hands of Microsoft
To fully comply with data protection regulations in all industries, you must be able to show how seriously you’re taking data privacy. If you’re dealing with a lot of data, including confidential data, it’s better to store and control that data yourself. By implementing Office 365 into your system, you’re now placing trust in Microsoft and their handling of data.
When switching to Office 365, all data held by an organisation is hosted by the Microsoft data centre. Microsoft has safety and management regulations in place that could affect daily activities in your business. Organisations have the choice to have an Enterprise license, which keeps all your data in-house, however this means you must secure that data yourself.
Choosing where your data is housed will depend on how much you trust Microsoft’s security features.
4. Inflexible platform
Office 365 is designed to cater for many businesses and users, rather than individuals. The lack of flexibility with the platform makes it hard for you to tailor O365 to the demands of your business. When looking at moving to Office 365, you must take a closer look at everything that it has to offer, to ensure it won’t affect the day-to-day operations of your business.
5. Small file upload sizes
Office 365 limits the file size to 2GB max on OneDrive, OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online. While many businesses won’t use files that large all the time, some users often share and collaborate on very large files. If you frequently work on and share large files, you must analyse Office 365’s file capacity before moving to Microsoft’s platform.
6. Limited email archiving
Email archiving is important to businesses that are regulated, however there are limitations of email archiving in Office 365. With regulations such as GDPR, more businesses could potentially be scrutinised for their handling of data. If your business is heavily regulated, you must ensure there are no email compliance restrictions on your O365 plan.
Office 365 has an eDiscovery tool, but the search function is incredibly limited. You are unable to:
- Find over 200 results in a single eDiscovery search of 10,000 mailboxes
- Have tamper evident email (without Litigation hold set on all mailboxes that have ever been used in the business)
- Run more than two eDiscovery searches at the same time
- Access mail that is on Litigation Hold
- Access live email if the service goes down
- Prove that copies of emails are the original if you turn off Litigation/In-Place hold
- Prove that an email has NOT been sent or received (if Litigation hold hasn’t been set for ALL mailboxes that have ever existed)
- Retain or archive email for leavers without maintaining the inbox
To maintain emails in Office 365, they must be placed in a Litigation Hold. However, this is limited to emails sent and received after the hold has been put in place. If you want to hold all emails on your Office 365, this must be turned on from the first day.
Office 365 also has the option for businesses to save emails in their own archive via .pst files, but these are unreliable because they can be edited by anyone with access.
The only way to ensure you have a secure email archive, you must implement a third-party email archive to your Office 365. An archive will take a snapshot of every email sent and received in the business and secure them in an encrypted server that administrators have access to. The emails cannot be tampered with, as all actions are logged with the original retained at all times. You choose the package based on how big your business is, to ensure all inboxes are protected.