Office 365 or EFSS: That Is the Question

In my previous post, "What's the Issue with EFSS," I took up the question of why many IT departments are talking about eliminating electronic file sync and share (EFSS) applications, despite their popularity (and ubiquity) as tools for content management, document sharing, and collaboration. What it often comes down to is this: EFSS use runs contrary to the organization’s plan to migrate to Microsoft Office 365 (O365).

The question I want to take up here is when it might make sense to go the O365 route, versus when an EFSS solution may meet an organization’s needs.

The Case for Office 365

For many companies, owning the entire O365 suite is valuable, as it provides an overall platform with multiple functions. Larger organizations, especially, may have a myriad of needs which various components of the suite fulfill.

Some organizations are getting rid of EFSS solutions and migrating their content to Office 365. That’s OK if you’ve mapped your data structure carefully, you’ve done all your planning—and you’ve worked to put change management in place.

But if you haven’t started the migration, pump the brakes a little bit. Let Office 365 settle down. Check in a year or two from now, when Microsoft will have achieved better consolidation and unification of the patchwork of overlapping and often redundant applications that make up the suite today.

The last time I checked, Microsoft’s approach to eDiscovery is a good example of this. You must use three completely separate applications, depending on where you are searching: email, SharePoint, or OneDrive. (See my October 2017 blog post, E-discovery Capabilities in Office 365.)

And then there are some organizations for which it may make sense to use both Office 365 and (I've seen it with my own eyes!) Let’s say you’re running IT for a large marketing agency, with lots of individual assets already in Maybe, at the same time, you’re also migrating productivity and e-mail resources to Office 365. That could be an argument to use both at the same time.

The Case for EFSS

The problem with O365 (as I’ve written previously) is the rate at which Microsoft introduces new functions to the O365 suite—seemingly a new application every month (see Office 365: Controlling the Uncontrollable and Office 365: Sophisticated or Complex? Answer: Both!).

These functions can just appear, suddenly, on the user’s Office 365 menu. When a company has little warning in advance, it has no time to train users—and no time to develop policy around new functions and additions. When new tools change or are added without warning, overall governance can be adversely affected.

The truth is not every organization needs the complexity of Office 365. If you’re already on your way down that path, you already know that Office 365 is a tangled web of evolving applications, beyond the usual Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Outlook programs. The product is in fact a robust suite of services, offering far more than OneDrive for Business, Microsoft’s file storage and sharing solution.

What if your needs are primarily for file storage and sharing? Which of the leading players in the EFSS market is the best fit for your organization’s needs? I’ll take that up in my next post.

But in the meantime, for more on our practice in enterprise content management, click here. And if you'd like to receive regular updates on our research and on similar topics of interest, sign up for our newsletter.

Rich Medina
Jeff Phillips
I’m a Principal Consultant, specializing in strategies for using ECM tools such as Microsoft Office 365 for information management.