Those who thought Microsoft was going to rest on its laurels when it comes to cloud offerings are starting to hedge their bets. But, who am I kidding? Nobody actually thought that.

Microsoft has made it pretty clear that they’re going “all-in” with their cloud solutions. What makes this announcement so interesting is that it’s not necessarily a new technology; it simply streamlines the existing processes. (It looks like they’re taking a page out of the book written by their friends a few hundred miles south.)

Office 365 Video

What is Office 365 Video? It’s an enterprise-centric (i.e., not available in the small business plans), simplified video content distribution interface. The simplest way to look at it would be to call it a “YouTube” for business.

While Microsoft may not like the implication that they’ve copied that service, it’s an apt analogy. What’s more important is that this is part of your existing Office 365 environment, so rights management is easier to control, as it is tied into your Active Directory (which can ALSO be hosted by Microsoft as part of Azure).

How do you get it? If you have Office 365 in one of the “E” plans (E1, E2, E3 or E4), you’ll have access before the end of 2015. Some customers may already see the functionality available right now. It’s not currently available in the Government plans, but it is in the Academic plans, as well.

What Else You Should Know

It can be shut off, so if you’re not ready to use Office 365 Video when it becomes available, feel free to toggle that switch. (Side note: That’s a common theme with Microsoft these days. They like to give customers access to new technology, yet still offer the choice of whether or not it gets deployed.) One possible reason for turning off this functionality is that videos hosted in Office 365 Video will count against your SharePoint storage allotment.

The last thing I’ll point out is that it does have Yammer integration. This provides a seamless social media integration that allows users to see who’s viewed, downloaded or commented on the video.

Finally – what does this mean? In my opinion, it means quite a bit. Microsoft has proven in the past few years, since Office 365 went into general release, that they are still the market leader (both in technology and sales) for messaging and communications. What they’re doing now signals that they are ready to expand on their already solid offering with added features.

For those of you using a third-party service for your video distribution – this could save you some money. Those sorts of solutions are not cheap. And if Microsoft can prove this has the same level of service you expect from Office 365, it’s worth making the switch.