Hosted Exchange 2010 Nears Tipping Point

Hosted Exchange 2010 seems to be gaining critical mass. Verio this week became the latest hosting company to offer Microsoft's latest email platform release. And we've heard from several additional hosting providers that are preparing to offer Exchange 2010. But can MSPs continue to differentiate -- especially as Microsoft prepares to offer Exchange 2010 as part of BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite)? Here are some thoughts.

Let's start with the official news: Verio, one of North America's largest hosting providers, is rolling out a range of Exchange 2010 capabilities -- including calendar, collaboration, mobile messaging, tasks, and ActiveSync functionality. Also, Verio says the service offers:

  • Company Disclaimer Service – users can implement company-wide email policies like a signature or legal disclaimer for all email that staff distributes outside of the organization. These disclaimers cannot be edited or removed by the user.
  • Email Archiving Service- archive all messages in accordance with all legal documents and regulations using a 3rd Party Archiving Service Provider.
  • Message Mirror Service – users can monitor and organize messages for compliance with company email policies. This solution creates a copy of every email message – incoming and outgoing – in a separate folder to be referred to when needed.<
  • Active Directory Synchronization – users have the ability to constantly synchronize on-premise Active Directory user data with Verio’s Hosted Exchange Active Directory using DirectoryLink. Users can maintain the same contact information, password and other user-related information. Simply import it to Verio’s Exchange infrastructure.

Competitive Market

Verio isn't alone in the Hosted Exchange 2010 market. Intermedia, which specializes in Hosted Exchange and Hosted Unified Communications, introduced Hosted Exchange 2010 to customers in 2009. To the best of my knowledge, Intermedia was first to market with the offering. And as more hosting providers introduce Hosted Exchange, be sure to look behind the curtains: Sometimes, Intermedia is the back-end service provider.

Also of note: Azaleos offers managed Exchange 2010 services, along with managed SharePoint 2010 services that will launch on May 10, 2010.

Still, many hosting providers continue to diversify beyond Microsoft's server software offerings. The reason: Microsoft's own BPOS platform will soon support Exchange 2010 and SharePoint 2010. Some VARs and MSPs applaud BPOS as a simple way for the channel to step into the SaaS market. But some critics worry they'll lose control of customers and face thin margins with BPOS.

With those factors in mind, companies like Intermedia continue to promote hosted Microsoft offerings while diversifying into new areas like Hosted Unified Communications. Intermedia's Hosted UC effort involves Unison Technologies rather than Microsoft.

Co-reported by Matt Weinberger. Sign up for MSPmentor’s weekly Enewsletter, Webcasts and Resource Center. And follow us via RSS; Facebook; Identi.ca; and Twitter. Plus, check out more MSP voices at www.MSPtweet.com.


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