Cloud-based services aren’t new. I wrote last month about Google’s attempt to take on Microsoft in the corporate e-mail market. Suffice it to say that Microsoft didn’t take that news well.
Having long been a certified Microsoft partner, we were pleased to find out about their entry into the cloud-based corporate e-mail market with the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite. Microsoft is offering integrated Exchange 2007, SharePoint 2007, Live Communications Server 2007, And Office Communications Server for one per-user fee. These are the most commonly purchased software packages that we deploy. Roughly 70% of the clients that we have use Microsoft Office with Microsoft Exchange Server, and because of that have to worry about all the head-aches including purchasing licenses, hardware, managing the backups, deployment, downtime, and maintenance. In a cloud environment, you let Microsoft take care of all of those things.
The benefits go way beyond that though. Microsoft has enterprise-level spam and antivirus filtering that gets added to your mail system. Their servers span the globe so that no one outage can bring you down. They guarantee a 99.9% uptime on all their systems which calculates out to less than 53 minutes down per year. Their infrastructure synchronizes with your infrastructure, so there’s no hassle getting set up. Using their system there’s no need for things like SSL certificates, that can run a few hundred dollars per year. Their systems are already setup to synchronize with iPhone’s and other ActiveSync devices. And finally, because you’re using Microsoft’s servers, there’s no tether to your office. All of these systems will link through single sign-on application that can be put on any Windows machine in the world.
Oh yeah, you get free Microsoft tech support if something goes wrong too…
Right now, the only catch is that the Microsoft service doesn’t synchronize with Blackberries. Certainly prospective users would be able to download their mail to their phones, but Blackberries won’t automatically synchronize calendars or contacts with the Microsoft service. Those of you on iPhones, Android devices, or Windows 7 mobile phones need not worry as they will work seamlessly.
The cost of the service is about $12 per user, per month. For a network of 25 users, the actual cost works out to $3,792 per year. That cost is roughly 1/4 of what it would cost to implement an adequate server with all the licensing included for the same office. Considering the cost of deploying and maintaining your own servers, the total cost of ownership on the Microsoft online service is very aggressive.
As always, post in the comments or send me an e-mail with any questions you might have.