Microsoft Clarifies BPOS and Exchange 2010 Cloud Strategy
The VAR Guy continues to keep a close eye on Microsoft’s cloud strategy, which includes BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite). Our resident blogger was curious to know if Microsoft would add horizontal applications like online backup to BPOS. Microsoft answered that question. And the software giant further clarified its SaaS and cloud strategy for Exchange 2010 and SharePoint 2010. Here are the details.
As you may recall, Microsoft Channel Chief Allison Watson recently called on VARs to begin testing BPOS and Windows Azure as part of an “all in” cloud push launched by CEO Steve Ballmer. But The VAR Guy recently criticized Microsoft a bit for failing to synchronize its on-premise and SaaS upgrade rollouts. A prime example: Exchange 2010 is now available for on-premises customers, but The BPOS suite still leverages Exchange 2007. Meanwhile, third party hosting providers such as Intermedia already offer hosted Exchange 2010.
In an email to The VAR Guy, Clint Patterson, director of communications for Microsoft Online Services, clarified the situation:
“Today, we have been running Exchange 2010 as a service for over two years as part of Microsoft Live@edu, a cloud based suite of apps for schools. This program, known as Outlook Live (formerly Exchange Labs), is used by millions today and is a great proof point of running Exchange 2010 as a service at scale.
As you have noted, we update BPOS every 90 days, and we expect the capabilities added in SharePoint 2010 and Exchange 2010 to show up in our shared, multi-tenant service later this year (2010). We are already making Exchange 2010 available for customers in our dedicated service today. In fact, one of our customers, Energizer is already fully utilizing Exchange 2010 in our dedicated cloud service.”
Patterson shared some additional BPOS insights over email, which The VAR Guy will blog about in the days ahead.
In the meantime, The VAR Guy is shifting gears to the topic of backup and business continuity. Dozens of companies now offer online backup services. Will Microsoft make a similar online backup move with BPOS?
“Today, we offer these solutions as cloud-based services known as Exchange Hosted Services, which offer business continuity capabilities available through Exchange Online and BPOS. We also have a number of partners who build third-party solutions in these categories, and we will continue to work with them in the future to bring these solutions to the cloud where it makes sense.
Obviously, we also provide geo-redundant data centers for all our customers, so that there is another level of business continuity at the data center level. This is an important area where we continue to discuss next-generation needs with our customers.”
Translation: Microsoft protects BPOS applications with backup and redundancy, but it doesn’t sound like Microsoft will start promoting its own online storage solution.
And if you read between the lines closely enough, it sounds like will open up BPOS for some third-party services and utilities.
Where Partners Fit In
No doubt, BPOS represents both an opportunity and a challenge for channel partners. Some VARs see BPOS as a simple, effective way to test the SaaS waters. But other partners view aggressive BPOS pricing as a threat to traditional channel revenue streams.