When a Client Only Wants Part of Office 365

Not all clients want to buy into the complete service offering that is Office 365. For various reasons, they have separate systems in their IT toolkit that they want to maintain, but notwithstanding that desire, they want to cherry pick specific capabilities from Office 365.

For example, consider a client that:
– uses an LDAP server for access and authentication
– has standardised on a non-Microsoft document and content management system
– uses Jive for its intranet and collaboration spaces
– gets email and calendar services from Google
– prefers computing devices to be web-only, without installed applications
– is trending in the direction of cloud-only infrastructure

What’s of interest to a client in this situation? Microsoft Office in the browser, rather than Office installed on computers and laptops.

The question becomes, how does this work with what Microsoft has to offer?

One option is the Microsoft Office Online Server, which (emphasis added):

… allows organizations to deliver browser-based versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote, among other capabilities. Microsoft recognizes that many organizations still value running server products on-premises for a variety of reasons. With OOS, you get the same functionality we offer with Office Online in your own datacenter. OOS is the successor to Office Web Apps Server 2013.


OOS is designed to work with SharePoint Server 2016, Exchange Server 2016 and Skype for Business Server 2015. It is also backwards compatible with SharePoint Server 2013, Lync Server 2013 and, in some scenarios, with Exchange Server 2013. You can also integrate other products with OOS through our public APIs.


While OOS runs on your own servers, we are working hard to give you the same experiences you would get if you used our cloud service. For example, real-time co-authoring will now be enabled in Office Online Server.

In theory, going with Office Online Server would allow a client to cherry pick the Office Online concept, but it will only work in practice if the Server is installed on-premises. The license conditions of Office Online Server prohibit installation in a cloud environment. It also requires that every user is licensed for “an on-premises Office suite license with Software Assurance or an Office 365 ProPlus subscription.”

A second option is to request that the document and content management vendor of choice signs up for the Microsoft Cloud Storage Partner Program (CSPP), so as to:

… [enable] cloud storage providers to connect their services to Office Online and Office for iOS. Today, we’re making Office even easier for customers to use with cloud storage providers by adding real-time co-authoring with Office Online for documents stored in partner cloud services, extending our Office for iOS integration to all partners in the CSPP, and enabling integration between Outlook.com and cloud storage providers Dropbox and Box. (January 2016 Update)

What’s happening with Dropbox and Box could happen with other cloud storage partners too … but there is some work to be done at a vendor level to get there.

Another thing that would have to be set up is the synchronisation of the client’s LDAP directory with Active Directory, with the LDAP directory remaining the authoritative master.

Long term, when the desire to simplify the various moving pieces becomes more important, the LDAP directory could be swapped out for Azure AD, and email and calendar services moved from Google to Office 365.

Are there other options for getting Office Online capabilities today?

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