“When I wrote ‘The World Is Flat,’ I said the world is flat. Yeah, we’re all connected. Facebook didn’t exist; Twitter was a sound; the cloud was in the sky; 4G was a parking place; LinkedIn was a prison; applications were what you sent to college; and Skype, for most people, was a typo.”

-Thomas Friedman, Author and Journalist, New York Times

Larry Ellison, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and their peers, all spoke wistfully about a world where large servers on the Internet do all the work, and the only device that any citizen uses is a ‘thin client’ to interact with these servers across the network. In spite of their evangelizing, none of them predicted the system we have in place now; in fact, many business users are—at this moment—unaware of how much power and flexibility exists in this ‘cloud and client’ system that is quickly replacing legacy systems where everyone’s power sits directly under their desk.

The Cloud is something most of us are familiar with, that large data center far away where all of our critical data is stored in case of a catastrophe, hardware failure, or otherwise unforeseen loss of vital information. According to a recent article, the cloud is a network of servers, and each server has a different function. Some servers use computing power to run applications or “deliver a service.” Businesses have come to realize that backing up to the cloud is critically important; however, for a large percentage, this is as much cloud integration they have with their office.

Office 365 was for many businesses, the first glimpse of the cloud as a productivity tool; after all, with the introduction of 365, Microsoft was cannibalizing their bestselling product, the ubiquitous Office 2013 Suite of locally run applications. We are all familiar with the old Office lifecycle, buy the license, and constantly update the product with security patches and feature enhancements, then watch, as compatibility becomes an issue when a newer version of Office becomes the standard.

With Office 365, the updates are in the cloud, the security, the hardware, the IT support, the compatibility—all of it handled in the cloud. All the user needs is a browser, on any device connected to the Internet; even better, everybody can collaborate in real-time, contact lists are synced, emails, calendars, instant messaging, (even VoIP) the entire team is on the same page no matter where those team members are. These are all reasons why this past ‘upgrade cycle’ businesses have finally migrated to the cloud-based Office 365.

Yes, with Office 365’s, Lync Online component, Office 365 can do everything mentioned above, while also serving as a comprehensive communications platform. In summary, a user purchasing a license for Office 365 is able to use Exchange for email, SharePoint for documents, but also leverage Lync for a fully desktop integrated phone system replacing legacy systems, or any current VoIP system.

Office 365 is appearing everywhere, especially now that Microsoft is offering free one-year subscriptions with a slew of new mobile devices. Couple this with the distinct business advantages, and VoIP integration, and you’ll realize it is time to contact 4 Corner IT and get started. To keep up with the latest news, follow us @4CornerIT, or come join the conversation on our Facebook page, we understand your business, not just your technology.