Is security a big concern when moving to Office 365?

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Going to the cloud in general, and in our case Office 365, security has always been a big topic or concern in the past. Traditionally, we would choose our servers, hard drives, server rooms, and even our network cables. Essentially what I’m trying to say is that we had control over everything.

Does this mean that our data was more secure before than it will be in Office 365? Let me assure you, in almost every single scenario, the answer is a definite no. Often, the issue lies more in us having a hard time letting go, than our data not being secure. So I invited Christian Buckley to discuss the current state of security concerns when moving to Office 365.

Why Migrating to Office 365 Is A Great Security Move

Microsoft has done an amazing job in grabbing every certification, one after another, to prove to and reassure customers that there is no safer place for their data to be. Additionally, the advantages in terms of cost, security, and productivity far outweigh the fear of losing control.

If you want to find out more, there is a center of all things Trust, called the Trust Center for Office 365. I recommend you navigate it if you want to find out more.

It’s clear, however, that today, there are less and less discussions or concerns about the security of putting our data in the cloud with Office 365. Most have moved past this, and are looking more into the benefits of the platform and how it can help them, rather than question its integrity.

Video Transcript

** Our video transcripts are generated automatically. So, while we meticulously review them, some typos fall through the cracks. Please excuse any errors, and feel free to let us know if any pop up. **

Benjamin: All right, well, welcome, my name is Benjamin Niaulin from Sharegate and…

Christian: Christian Buckley with Beezy.

Benjamin: All right, we’re sitting down. We did a couple of whiteboards.

Christian: We are sitting down, okay?

Benjamin: We did some fun videos. A lot of things has been talking about moving to the cloud for a long time. I remember SharePoint Conference ’12 or ’14.

Christian: Is that Los Angeles? Is that the one?

Benjamin:> There was two back to back in Vegas. And I remember the feedback from the attendees was very negative, because it felt like we were shoved down our throats with SharePoint Online, Office 365.

Christian: The cloud! You must be in the cloud, or you’re a fool!

Benjamin: Yes.

Christian: Yes.

Benjamin: That was essentially what we were. And back then, it was like “I’ll never be in the cloud.” And so we’re on to see, what is the state of that transition to the cloud? We do a lot of conferences. We see a lot of customers as far as both outside through conferences, people asking questions, e-mails and such. If we do a pulse, what’s going on?

Christian: I think that there was a lot of tension. I don’t know what the exact numbers are like percentages of. We used to know that about how many people were between different versions and how many customers were over all were on SharePoint and those kinds of things. We don’t really talk about that much anymore, certainly, not about moving to the cloud.

But what’s interesting and what we were kind of getting into is, and you know some of my background, so I went to work for a company back in February 2001. And it was a very well-funded, VC-funded startup, close to $200 million in funding, so big, big, a company called E2open, and was hired as a product manager. I hosted, cloud-hosted, collaboration platform. Sound familiar?

Benjamin: Maybe, maybe not.

Christian: So went and built that. And what was interesting about that, and I was there for two and a half years, and for most of that time, ran a team going out and doing deployments. And so worked with customers in the U.S., of course, and Canada, spent a long time up in Canada with Nortel and things, Ottawa mostly.

Benjamin: Uh-oh, uh-oh!

Christian: I know, I know. And as well as over in Japan, down in the Philippines, and just across Asia Pacific.

And a lot of the fears that people had about moving their intellectual property out to the cloud, so they were worried about what is that user experiences going to be like. What is the performance of that cloud environment to be like? If they’re doing co-editing, the limitations of your ability to co-edit versus flying people around the world to do that. But then putting this IP out in this server, sitting outside of their domain, it freaked these organizations. These are some of the largest high-tech manufacturing companies in the world that had been doing this kind of collaboration for a long time.

So those were things that I ran into back in 2001, 2002, 2003.

Benjamin: Okay, yeah.

Christian: And so we started experimenting with things like WAN optimization, so the ability to go in, basically, reduce the signal noise on your connection to the Internet.

Benjamin: We’re way past it.

Christian: But all of these kinds of things, more than a decade ago, here we are, early 2016, same issues, same concerns. How do we govern this? How do we apply our compliance and security standards? How do we manage external users? And how do we know what they’re doing, the level of activity, and make sure that only the right content is being shared with the right people in the right locations? All the same issues.

Benjamin: It’s been one of the hot topics, I would say. Every time somebody said, “Cloud,” or “Are you going to the cloud?” I think you probably have it in your mind right now, and you, too, it’s security, right?

Christian: Right.

Benjamin: People that don’t want to go to the cloud and don’t have any good reason also, they’ll just put it on that box and say, “Yeah, security.” And they haven’t even checked anything either. I feel there’s a lot less people worried about the cloud.

Christian: Because honestly, I think that Microsoft has done a tremendous job at going after the certifications, solidifying the story around compliance and security and those things. Not that it’s perfect, they’re working on number of things, but it really has to be. When most people bring up those kinds of issues that are against moving to the cloud, you have to look at it a little more clinically. And you have to say, “Okay, what are the requirements, the standards which we need to manage to?”

And Office 365 and Azure, they either meet the standards or they don’t. And so you have your answer there. If you are required to meet these five certifications, and SharePoint Online can do four out of the five, just as an example, you have your answer. No, we don’t move, or we move knowing that there’s an impact in that one area and that we’re going to manually manage that, and we know that it lacks in this area. But you go in with your eyes wide open around that.

Benjamin: Absolutely. Probably there’s a trust center that Microsoft had put into place. Usually, somebody sent me an e-mail or his LinkedIn, asking me the same things like “Where can I find this information? We may be wanting to go through Office 365, but I want to know how is it audited? Who does it?” Everything’s a trust center. You can go check it out.

Christian: The trust center, yeah, that’s right.

Benjamin: I’m trying to follow all of these websites. You know how it is.

One thing that’s funny, though, and I want to talk it, especially when we’re talking about this, is talking about people are like “Would you go to the cloud?” and there’s all these reasons why they won’t go, especially the security and performance and stuff like that. We’re having other discussions for other topics. And then they tell me they’re using Salesforce. They’re using Slack. And I’m like “So what is the definition of cloud to you?” Well, Office 365. Okay!

So there’s also that understanding, right? They’re sometimes okay with some companies, just because of the name of the brand. They know that if they want this, they use Salesforce, or they use whatever solution. And then they go on, and then it talks about Office 365. I was like “No, it’s security, no.”

Christian: Right.

Benjamin: Though today is a very different story. The story I’m talking about is maybe a year or two years ago.

Christian: Even a year ago, you were hearing that, and it has decreased considerably.

Benjamin: Oh yeah, considerably. If I go to conferences these days, and we go quite often, when I ask, “Who here’s on Office 365?” I’m reaching almost 50% percent of the room sometimes, if not more, depending on the topic, of course. But there’s people on Office 365. They don’t know what they got or how to use it. And that’s another problem that we’re looking into and that we’re seeing. But in terms of going to the cloud, my feel is that people are going there and they see the value, the cost, right?

Christian: You need to understand what you’re trying to accomplish with the system. This is true in any business platform, you’re SharePoint and Office 365 or other, is understand what you’re trying to accomplish there. And I have to be pragmatic about this that there are some valid used cases for keeping things on-prem.

Benjamin: Of course. And Microsoft understands this today, right?

Christian: They do, yeah. Their messaging is greatly improved around that, and there’s a lot of talk about hybrid environments now, because they understand that most organizations have a desire to move to the cloud. They’re just certain realities.

The traditional approach to IT is that as you’re going out and you’re building out a plan for a new platform that you are building out three, five and seven-year models for paying for it. Say like “We need to get this value out of this system that we’d spent these dollars, this time.” And then they take a year, two, or three years, deploying these systems. They can’t just flip a switch and “Hey, something new. We’re going to move to it.”

Benjamin: Yeah, yeah, yeah, of course, of course.

Christian: But they need to get that value add of what they’ve already spent.

And one of the great stories about hybrid and Microsoft now, looking at where can we bring these cloud experiences down to these on-prem customers that, I wouldn’t say, are stuck on-prem, but have reasons to leave these systems in place.

Benjamin: And there’s different workloads, right? You were talking about modalities of collaboration earlier that different people work differently, and I totally understand that and I agree. There are some things, and I’m thinking of a couple of customers that we have right here in Montreal where engineering companies, for specific reason, compliance reasons in military export control, they can’t have all of their things in the cloud, in Office 365.

Even if in, somehow will be compliant, just that culture in the enterprise, those engineering five, the things that they make cannot just not be somewhere they control. And that’s their way.

However, it doesn’t mean that having a video portal that’s ready to go work some mobile devices but still owned by the organization could not benefit that organization. It doesn’t mean that things like Delve and Groups and OneDrive for Business, would not benefit the organization that you can clog it in.

That’s what I tell a lot of the people I see when I look at conferences. I talk with customers now. I’m like, “It’s not a versus anymore. You’ve got to go to the cloud or you’ve got to stay on-premises, and you’re bad,” because it’s not like that. I always say, “Look, you choose where your SharePoint’s going to be. And your SharePoint is going to be either on-premises or in Office 365 or both, because they can get connected now.” That’s the SharePoint piece.

But Office 365 isn’t just SharePoint piece, right? You can have the SharePoint piece in Office 365, do your team size, do whatever you need. And then you have those, they call it Experiences, and that’s a great marketing buzz word. But they add on, these ready-made adds, that usually they’re inspired from things we’ve seen, right? The Delve cards for me is like Pinterest boards. The new planner is like Trello

Christian: I think the key for a lot of that, tying a lot of that together, is something that’s cloud-based, which is the Office graft and the Microsoft graft. It’s being able to tap into the machine learning is not something, unless you have a huge, a massive server infrastructure, then do. But not many in the world!

Benjamin: Oh I am, which is not everyone.

Christian: Not many in the world.

Benjamin: Not many in the world, yeah.

Christian: But being able to tap into the power of the Office graft and being able to leverage the knowledge and the patterns of usage of all of the users within your network, within your system, to learn from those things, and then serve up these experiences, these out-of-the-box new features that are part of the cloud. But being able to also connect those to your on-prem environment is just huge.

This is something that I could actually say for Beezy was born out of the idea, the frustration that as more and more social capabilities were being built out and the bleeding edge of the technology was all out on the cloud and what was available from a social experience on-prem. 2010 era is junk. Let’s not parse the words here that the social experience in SharePoint 2010 was flatlined. And so Beezy was created to go and build something that was similar to what was available out through the consumer-based solutions, but for 2010.

But even then, the people that are in social collaboration are usually more out at the forefront of things. So I think that there’s less resistance. This is just my anecdotal take on things. But people that are more socially collaboration-based, because they’re used to using all of these other consumer-based social platforms that are out there. They’re more ready to move to the cloud than other organizations. So then we had to go and completely re-architect our product to work with the cloud, with Office 365.

And so now we find, in this scenario, just like Microsoft is finding, is that many of our customers are interested in using it in a hybrid environment. And it’s actually a great way, and this is a broader topic around user experience.

Benjamin: They’ve got the choices, I think. You have the choice, you can’t say anything at all.

Christian: Right. Having the choice and leveraging the infrastructure that you’ve made the investments on, that you need to take the time and move across.

Benjamin: You’ve got everything..

Christian: You move it your speed, rather than, “Hey, there’s a new version.”

Benjamin: It’s not a battle. You don’t have to choose one. You’d look at what you have, what best works for you and your scenario.

Christian: I said that, you don’t have to choose one. You do.

Benjamin: If we would recap quickly, the state of that transition to the cloud.

Christian: I think it’s speeding up.

Benjamin: It definitely is. There are worries, there’s always concerns. Microsoft likes to say that very often, “Millennials are coming, as if it’s some kind of monster arriving.”

Christian: That’s a whole different topic. But yes, they are. They are.

Benjamin: Honestly, we’re used to different things. People are used to iPhones and YouTubes from 10 years old now.

Christian: YouTubes? There’s more than one YouTube, folks. You heard it here.

Benjamin: YouTube videos. But honestly, when we’re thinking about the cloud now, and I talk to different people, it’s like, “Okay. However, Office 365 is only in the cloud.” Like “Yeah, you mean like my online banking?” Yeah, okay. It’s not really as much of a worry.

Christian: I think a lot of the irrational fears are being done away with. Instead of being a fear-driven change or transition, that people are understanding it and is becoming more of a plan to transition.

Benjamin:> Absolutely. All right. Thank you very much. I’m Benjamin Niaulin.

Christian: I’m Christian Buckley.

Benjamin: I’ll see you in the next one.

Christian: Bye.

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