Office 365 vs. Third-Party Hosted Exchange: What’s the Difference?
What’s the difference between Microsoft Office 365 and third-party hosted Exchange services? At first glance: Not much. For about $6 per user per month, you (or your customers) can get started with Office 365 or a third-party hosted Exchange service. But this is far more than a pricing conversation. VARs and MSPs seeking a path forward need to read the fine print — especially when it comes to bundled offerings and service level agreements (SLAs).
A prime example: Take a look at Office 365 vs. an expanding relationship between Avnet Technology Solutions and SherWeb. Avnet is a leading IT distributor that recently launched a cloud services initiative for VARs and MSPs. SherWeb, meanwhile, is a leading cloud services provider (CSP) that offers various collaboration applications — including hosted Exchange, hosted SharePoint and more.
The obvious questions:
- Why should VARs and MSPs give Avnet-SherWeb a look rather than work directly with Microsoft and Office 365?
- Is the Avnet-SherWeb relationship more than a marketing relationship — how does their partnership provide more value to channel partners?
I’ll skip the pricing questions… except to say the following: Avnet-SherWeb allows partners to control end-customer pricing. When it comes to a deep dive on pricing, you should just speak directly with the service provider — whether its Avnet, SherWeb, Microsoft… or another hosted Exchange provider like Intermedia and so forth.
The Finer Details
So what is the Avnet-SherWeb hosted Exchange solution? The companies say the solution offers:
- 100 percent white label capabilities
- complete MSP and VAR pricing control
- Full customer ownership (check with Avnet and SherWeb to see exactly what that means…)
- Technical support is handled by the VAR or MSP — or by Avnet at no cost (again, check with Avnet to see what that support covers)
- All inclusive partner migration support
- No upfront costs, set-up fees or required minimums
- 24×7 phone and email technical support
- Public folders enabled
- Full disclosure of data center locations and facility locations
- And several other capabilities.
For me, a few things stand out on that list — particularly phone support, end-customer pricing controls and white label capabilities.
Do Your Homework
Check around. Use the list above as a starting point to compare and contrast Office 365, Avnet-SherWeb and other hosted Exchange providers. VARs and MSPs have dozens of options from which to choose — including Avnet rivals like Ingram Micro Cloud, Tech Data TDCloud and Synnex CloudSolv.
For many VARs and MSPs, Office 365 is a solid solution. But I think far too often, channel partners choose their cloud service provider or hosted Exchange provider based on per-seat pricing without taking a much more detailed look at the SLA.
Don’t skip the fine print. There are differences between hosted Exchange providers. You need to pinpoint them before deciding where to shift your customers into somebody’s cloud.