According to Microsoft, more than 70% of customers in the Office 365 private beta were small businesses. That number makes Gilbert wonder how effective the service will be for large enterprises. Microsoft will have to prove that Office 365 can scale up to attract big customers, he says.
"The problem with these betas is it's still way early and we don't have any real-world feedback on Office 365 yet," Gilbert says.
But some organizations are planning to move large numbers of users to Office 365, or at least to Exchange Online.
Tom Boxrud, director of enterprise infrastructure at Underwriters Laboratories in Illinois, is moving a 7,200-person user base to Exchange Online after Office 365 goes live. For now, he says, the company is keeping SharePoint in-house but will keep an eye on the growth of SharePoint Online to see if moving to the cloud-based version makes sense in the future. SharePoint Online seems to be good for use as a document repository, portal and collaboration service, but Underwriters Laboratories needs something more robust for launching applications, Boxrud says.
Gilbert thinks more third-party tools can close the gap, but says it won't be easy.
"If they're going to build out a real app store on SharePoint, it's not about simple widgets," Gilbert says. "It's about real applications. People want repeatability, and a lower cost of implementing these solutions and getting to functionality."
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