Software-plus-services brings together the best of cloud-based, hosted services and the software that resides on a variety of devices to provide flexible and effective solutions for doing business. With software-plus-services as your IT strategy, you can focus your internal IT efforts on the systems and applications that are most critical to your agency and that leverage your IT expertise. Other systems can be hosted by Microsoft or by a third party which handles deployment, maintenance, and software upgrades and helps ensure that your availability requirements are met.

Skepticism is healthy, and, especially in a challenging economy, it can mean the difference between success and failure. These days, there isn’t much leeway for a misstep. So when a new paradigm like cloud computing or a new platform like Microsoft’s Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) comes along, it’s smart to ask questions—and there are plenty to ask.

We’ve listened to BPOS customers as well as those who are just curious about the new offering. Across them all, a handful of common themes emerge from all of the questions. We looked at what Microsoft’s suite is in our prior BPOS article. This time around, we thought it would be a good idea to turn from what to why. Why is the new paradigm any better than the old? Why does the suite make sense? Why should companies trust in the new platform? Let’s dig up some answers.

Why Trust Software-plus-services?

Data is any company’s lifeblood. Email contains confidential correspondence with customers. Presentations hold competitive plans and forecasting. If these data should get lost or stolen or sold off to interested parties, the results for the company could be dire, possibly lethal. So it’s no wonder that many companies are loathe to let their data offsite. Today, many government agencies, with staff trained in the old school of security, strictly forbid it.

The cloud computing, or software-plus-services (SPS), model obviously defies the old paradigm. It’s not just that the company’s data is off-site—the data could be anywhere. A large vendor like Microsoft employs numerous data centers and makes sure that any company’s data is stored in multiple centers for redundancy. A customer will never know where his data is or how many instances of it exist outside of his walls. This ambiguity is no doubt part of why we kept hearing people ask whether Microsoft Online Services could be trusted with their data.

Microsoft keeps much of that information hidden away for security’s sake. The less nuts and bolts information about such matters is made public, the safer Microsoft’s systems will be.

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