If you had a time machine and could go back and change one decision, there’s a good bet it will be to do something that you thought was a good idea at the time, but missed the boat. Why didn’t I start a shopping website in the 90s for selling my junk? Why didn’t I invest in Apple when it looked doomed? Well I can’t change those or anything else but I can look ahead into my crystal ball and try and work out what I should be doing next for my career. I think making sure you know everything there is to know about Office 365 Groups is a great idea. It’s not going to make you millions of pounds (or is it?) but it certainly could be a foundation for the next step in your career.
So what is Office 365 Groups?
As the name kind of implies, it’s a feature of Office 365. Before the days of cloud-based commodity services being available to all, you would usually implement all the services you need within your own data center. If you want email (and have sense) you’d implement Exchange Server, if you want File Storage you’d set up a file server, if you wanted somewhere to collaborate or set up an intranet you might install SharePoint. Then, when your users asked you for access to shared resources you’d manually set up shared areas in each of these systems as and when required. So – you might set up a Shared Mailbox for a new project, and then maybe create them a File Share, then perhaps if they need it, create a SharePoint site… the list goes on and on.
This method of creating isolated, loosely coupled systems has been handy for administration purposes – you can upgrade one without affecting the other – but it has sucked from a user perspective. If you are just trying to do your day to day job you need to call IT to create you something similar to what you might have had last time, and hopefully you will remember all the services you needed or asked for.
The idea of Office 365 Groups is to change all of that completely – starting with the integration. Conceptually the “Group” bears similarities to what you know and love as a Group – an object that has a name (“Jeff’s Project”) with a list of members (“Jeff” and “Jeff’s PA”). It then can be used as security identifier to grant access to services (“Jeff’s Project team can access this area for files”) or as a way to contact everyone.