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June 19, 2015

DropSoft? MicroBox? SoftBox? MicroDrop? – Understanding The Marriage of Microsoft Office 365 and Dropbox


The partnership began in November last year, but it wasn’t until April 2015 that Microsoft and Dropbox announced that users can now add their Dropbox cloud storage accounts to the online version of Microsoft Office, Office 365.

So what does this mean for users? I think it’s simplest to let the Dropbox blog explain, before I take you on a walkthrough of how to enable the integration to make the most of this new partnership:

“We’re willing to bet that your Dropbox is home to quite a few Microsoft Office files — and starting today, working with those files is even easier. We’ve released a new integration with Microsoft Office Online, so you can edit any Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, or Excel files in your Dropbox directly from your web browser.

“What does that mean for you? For starters, you don’t need the desktop versions of Microsoft Office — or even your own computer — to update any Office files stored in your Dropbox. Just click the ‘Open’ button when you’re previewing a Dropbox file on the web, and you can edit the file right from your browser via Office Online. Any changes will automatically be saved back to your Dropbox.

“You’ll also be able to access your Dropbox directly from Office Online, so you can open any of your Dropbox files — and save new files to Dropbox — without leaving Office Online.”

The move to a partnership can be seen as a rather magnanimous one for both parties, but especially Microsoft perhaps. Dropbox is one of Microsoft OneDrive’s main competitors, though the former is of course vastly more popular than the latter in terms of cloud storage.

And this indeed is probably why this “coopetitive” relationship has been struck – Dropbox and Microsoft 365 undoubtedly have a huge number of shared customers, which, according to Juan Carlos Perez on infoworld.com, “currently store 35 billion Office files in Dropbox.

“While in a perfect Microsoft world,” Perez continues, “all Office users would rely on OneDrive and OneDrive for Business, Dropbox has amassed a user base of about 300 million people. Meanwhile, Office has 1.2 billion users.”

The partnership is not free from corporate competitive business politics, but this hardly matters for the end user – we just get to sit back and enjoy what can now be accomplished with the new integration.


What Does The New Integration Enable?

Dropbox now directly supports Word, Excel and PowerPoint (note: Microsoft explains that OneNote is not included because “Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, and PowerPoint presentations are among the most popular file types in the world, so we prioritized Dropbox integration on Word, Excel and PowerPoint”).

The addition of Dropbox support for Office 365 apps (and vice versa) is extremely beneficial to both applications and indeed makes each of them more useful. Users of Word, PowerPoint and Excel are able to access Dropbox from within the Office interface, and it’s also possible for users to edit Office files directly from the Dropbox interface. All edits and alterations are automatically synced across all devices that carry the applications.

Furthermore, the integration now enables a feature that will remind you of Google Docs – you can now collaborate on documents, spreadsheets and presentations with multiple users right from Dropbox.

How To Integrate Office Online With Dropbox


To begin with, here’s a very short instructional video from the team at 365NINJA. Take a look.


The integration is actually pretty seamless, and if you already have an Office 365 account and a Dropbox account, then it’s pretty much plain sailing. Take a look at the screenshots below.

Add your Dropbox account to Office online.


Once you’ve done this, you can navigate and open your Dropbox files directly from Office Online.


Importantly, this integration works both ways. When you’re previewing a Word document, PowerPoint presentation or Excel Spreadsheet from Dropbox on the web, you can simply just click the “open” button, and the file will open automatically in Office Online, where you will be able to edit it directly from your browser (see below).


After clicking the open button in Dropbox, as highlighted in the screenshot above, the file will then open up in Word Online ready for editing, as in the shot below:


(All screenshots from blogs.office.com)


Final Word 

The new interoperability capabilities of the two services are available for Office users with a Dropbox account, with an Office 365 subscription being required for Dropbox for Business customers. Microsofts’ decision to team up with Dropbox like this most likely indicates a drive to convert more of its Office user base to the more lucrative subscription model. Despite Office boasting 1.2 billion users, many are still using older editions, which are generating little revenue or even none at all for Microsoft. So, although to some it might seem like a strange, counterintuitive move, anything that might help persuade more users to move to Office 365 is actually rather shrewd.


By Igor Varnava June 19th, 2015

June 5, 2015

Not A Minute To Lose: How Downtime Costs With each Second That Ticks By

uptimeThe ultimate goal of all organizations is to achieve 100% uptime for all of their IT and networking services, both for the business itself as well as its customers. 100% means 100%. 24 hours a day. 7 days a week. 52 weeks a year.

This is the ‘goal’, though perhaps a fairer and more realistic way to describe this would be the ‘dream’.

100% uptime is a wonderful idea, but in practice this is virtually impossible – and certainly impossible to guarantee. No matter how many precautions you take, at some point over the course of the year, certain things will happen that mean your network will be unavailable. Even if it’s only just for a few minutes every 2 or 3 weeks – this still isn’t 100% uptime. And each second of downtime will be costing the enterprise in terms of both money and productivity.


What is Downtime?

Put simply, downtime refers to periods of time when your system and network is inaccessible and therefore unavailable. Many organizations require their systems to be available all the time in order to complete their round the clock daily tasks. Think about hospitals, for instance. An organization such as this needs to be up and running constantly, as the health service, of course, is not just a 9-5 gig.

And the likelihood is that your business won’t be either. SMEs are increasingly finding ways to sell their goods and services all over the globe. This means that, even when you’ve gone home for the day and are having a nice night’s sleep, the other half of the world is still going to be trying to access your network, place orders, make enquiries and complaints and all the rest. If you’re online (and you are), then your business needs to be accessible round the clock, 24/7/365.

However, sometimes a system can be ‘up’, yet just lagging along so slowly that users or customers get irritated waiting for it. Strictly speaking, this is still ‘uptime’, for if we all just had the patience then we could still access what we want.

This is the real world, though, and so any systems experiencing performance lag are considered to be experiencing ‘downtime’ as a result. In fact, only certain functionalities might be unavailable to the end user, which may indeed go unnoticed for some time by systems administrators, since the rest of the system appears to be functioning normally, and therefore experiencing uptime. But, if the function is down that a user requires, then it is simply unfunctioning for the user, inaccessible, unavailable. It is essentially downtime – and this costs as well.


What They Promise

Since it is accepted that 24/7/365 availability is not actually achievable in real terms, the target, then is high availability – and so most providers say that this is 99%.

Sounds good, right? Well, yeah it does, but what this actually equates to is a downtime of 3.65 days a year, or 7.2 hours a month, or 1.68 hours a week.

This is significant, of course, when viewed like this.


What are the cost factors of downtime?

Planned or unplanned network outages can set off a chain of costs and consequences. These may be direct or indirect, tangible or intangible, short or long term, immediate or far-reaching.

Depending on the nature of your business, the size of your company, and how critical your IT systems are to your primary sources of revenue, varying costs may be assigned to each hour of downtime. For example, a global financial services firm might lose millions of dollars each hour, while a small manufacturer using IT for administration might lose only a marginal sum.

Potential costs would include:

  • Lost transaction revenue
  • Lost wages
  • Lost inventory
  • Remedial labor costs
  • Marketing costs
  • Bank fees and legal penalties from not delivering on service level agreements (SLAs)
  • Lost business opportunities
  • Loss of employees and/or deflation in employee morale
  • Decrease in stock values
  • Loss of goodwill from customers or partners
  • Damage to brand image
  • Driving business to competitors
  • Bad publicity


Missed Opportunities 

What this list does not include, however, is the cost of lost opportunities that occurred as a result of the downtime – sometimes referred to as the opportunity cost of downtime.

So, say you’re a company that relies on online sales. On average you gross a profit margin of $1,000 an hour. If your system goes down for an hour and a half, you incur a cost of $1,500. And, if you’re running on 99% up time, this arithmetically equates to $87,600 a year.

Of course, some customers may come back later, so this figure will be reduced, but most will actually just shop elsewhere.


It’s No Joke

The cost of downtime is a real issue. On top of opportunity costs, you must also consider the costs of losing productivity, profit loss, any legal financial penalties that you may incur, the cost of reparation, and of course your cost to loyalty and reputation.

How much is downtime costing you each year? Get in touch with us here at V&C Solutions to see how we can help you cut out your downtime, and save you money.

By Igor Varnava