The Cloud As Strategic Imperative

When I wrote about the wait-and-see attitude managed Exchange provider Azaleos was taking to the cloud back in December 2009, I got a lot of feedback from MSPs on both sides of the argument. I recently caught up with Azaleos VP of Marketing and Product Management Scott Gode, and he says that while the company's not giving up on on-premises messaging by a long shot, they’ve seen a rise in demand for their managed hybrid Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) services. Here’s why services providers should care.

During my conversation with Gode, there was one phrase that kept coming up: “strategic imperative.” As in, while Azaleos generally prefers to deploy managed on-premises messaging and collaboration solutions, if a customer has a “strategic imperative” to get to the cloud, they’ll sell them a BPOS-type solution, either hosted with Microsoft or else deployed as a "hybrid" on their own hardware.

That phrase caught my ear because of what it implies for the future of cloud services. As Gode explicated, there are a million reasons not to go with BPOS, including an unfavorable lack of feature parity with on-premises SharePoint and all the usual security and reliability concerns that come with software as a service (SaaS).

But I think that only selling customers a cloud service if they’re already looking for one is telling about how the industry currently sees SaaS. The potential cost and TCO savings of cloud-based hosted services are still overshadowed by those other concerns.

That said, Azaleos tends to do business with 500 to 5,000 seat enterprises, with scalability up to 100,000 or more. Moreover, Azaleos is reporting brisk business in managed Microsoft Exchange deployments, especially as the new 2010 edition gains mindshare, so their strategic acumen can’t much be argued.

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