Cobweb: Office 365 not flexible enough

Office 365 logo in orange against a white background

Offering a more tailor-made service to prospective customers may be the key to making businesses adopt cloud computing.

This is the belief of Julian Dyer, chief technology officer (CTO) for Cobweb – a hosted applications company – who claimed the inflexibility of the likes of Microsoft’s BPOS or Office 365 put people off and lost providers major contracts.

“The problem with services like Office 365... it is [encouraging] standardisation,” he said during an interview with Cloud Pro.

“There isn’t a one size fits all and [there is] limited scope for customers to request or actually get a customisation… or a conversation, [let alone] a contract that is specific to them, so they are quite rightly cautious about outsourcing in its new sense of cloud.”

But would companies really turn down a massive contract for a bit of extra tweaking? Dyer used an anecdote to prove his point.

“There is a story we were told by Microsoft at a hosting summit last year… and they said they had a request, or at least interest, from Phillips,” he revealed. “Phillips wanted hosted services or outsourced services and they evaluated Office 365 in its beta trials.”

“They said it was wonderful and they wanted 35,000 seats of Office, hosted Exchange etc. They said: ‘Can you do this, that, five other things and we will buy it?’ Microsoft said no.”

Dyer admitted his company might not have been able to meet the exact requests but still believed the story rang true for many firms looking at cloud services.

“That is what I mean by flexibility. Even if you are an enterprise customer with tens of thousands of seats, you are unlikely to get specific requirements that you want.”

He concluded that with all the security fears and price concerns, the issue of flexibility and customisation would be a real barrier for cloud adoption going forward.

Jennifer Scott

Jennifer Scott is a former freelance journalist and currently political reporter for Sky News. She has a varied writing history, having started her career at Dennis Publishing, working in various roles across its business technology titles, including ITPro. Jennifer has specialised in a number of areas over the years and has produced a wealth of content for ITPro, focusing largely on data storage, networking, cloud computing, and telecommunications.

Most recently Jennifer has turned her skills to the political sphere and broadcast journalism, where she has worked for the BBC as a political reporter, before moving to Sky News.