When Microsoft launched Office 365 in late June 2011 the writing was on the wall for the BPOS platform. For those of us who worked with BPOS it was good to know when we would have to stop supporting it.

While BPOS was a great platform for organisations moving to the cloud for the first time, Office 365 far surpassed it – as you would expect for a product built for the cloud.

For almost a year Microsoft has been transitioning customers from the BPOS platform over to Office 365. Some migrations in the beginning were problematic, while many went smoothly and without incident.

At Paradyne we have assisted our customers with many transitions – mostly without issue. (Full disclosure: one issue was due to a human error on our end, the other was a customer perception issue.)

The light at the end of the tunnel is getting closer. However others see this as getting closer to the grinder.

Articles such as this one on BoxFreeIT with viewpoints from partners spelling doom for customers paint Microsoft (and Telstra in this particular piece) similar to the Vogon Fleet on a mission to destroy customer data – citing some piece of information buried in a distant website. Thinking about this logically would a service provider like Microsoft want to delete their paying customers data? I don’t think I need to answer that.

What they do want however is to shut down an ageing platform and move those customers to the current iteration of their SaaS offering.

A key showstopper with these customers moving from BPOS to Office 365 is that a small percentage of them are still running Office 2003 on their desktops – a product suite which is not compatible with Office 365. The closest they could come to is to use Outlook 2003 in POP3/IMAP mode with Exchange Online.

So what possible other reason could they have for not wanting to move to Office 365? For many it is simply a case of not understanding, and not wanting to. For some they just don’t want to change. And why should they change just because their service provider tells them to?

Really this just amounts to the customer having their head in the sand.

I understand customers not wanting to change technology platforms just because the new one has come around (there are people in my life who tell me this constantly), but unfortunately that reasoning doesn’t apply when using a cloud technology. Over our lives we have seen technologies change – even from the same provider. Analog TV became digital, GSM and CDMA became 3G (and now 4G), the combustion engine was updated to work with new forms of fuel, we buy more products and services online using credit cards instead of cash, and so on.

This is the nature of technology – it changes regularly, and sometimes those changes require customers to pay for new components or services to facilitate that. In some facets of our lives we simply accept this and move forward. In orders we may grumble before accepting it.

However the times have changed – cloud delivers new technologies to us on a regular basis. Understandably moving from BPOS to Office 365 required additional work where customers may not have previously expected it.

Google, its partners and fanboys will point fingers and point out that true cloud platform shouldn’t require any desktop upgrades or changes. And they’re right. BPOS was not built for the cloud – hence there is some desktop requirements in order to facilitate the transition to Office 365, which was built for the cloud.

Looking forward to the next version of Office 365 the transition will be so smooth that users will not even be aware of it occurring – until they begin to use the new features that become available. For now those customers on BPOS need to get their head out of the sand and into the clouds.

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