Hosted Exchange 2010: Partners Go Live
Only days after Microsoft slashed its own SaaS (software as a service) prices, third-party service providers are marching forward with new hosted Exchange 2010 offerings. Two cases in point: Intermedia claims to be the first third-party provider of hosted Exchange 2010. And Azaleos has unveiled a managed Exchange 2010 service. What are the implications for VARs and MSPs? Here are some clues.
Let’s start with the folks at Intermedia, which already hosts more than 225,000 Microsoft Exchange mailboxes. The New York-based service provider says it’s offering customers and partners “sophisticated Fortune 500-grade systems – but in a way that is deeply practical for small- and medium-sized businesses.”
Intermedia is backing hosted Exchange 2010 with a 99.999 (five-nines) uptime Service Level Agreement (SLA), which guarantees less than six minutes of downtime per year.
But here’s the really interesting part for VARs and MSPs: Intermedia says it will introduce a private label option later this year, allowing channel partners to brand the hosted Exchange 2010 service as their own.
Meanwhile, Azaleos has launched managed services for Exchange 2010. The effort includes a partnership with EMC, which Azaleos says will improve the performance and availability of Exchange 2010.
The Bigger Picture
As third-party service providers introduce hosted Exchange 2010, some industry watchers openly wonder how Microsoft’s recent SaaS price cuts will impact Microsoft’s partner ecosystem — including resellers of the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS).
The VAR Guy posed the following question to Microsoft on Nov. 2:
“What does the price cut do to commissions for channel partners?”
A Microsoft spokesperson offered this perspective:
“The news has little impact on the overall partner opportunity. The reason so many partners – 7,000 at last count with 100 more joining the partner program each week – are embracing Microsoft’s cloud solutions is that our partner model is really driven by the value-added services partners deliver. These include such as migration, deployment, customization, app development, management, support and add-on services such as telephony and mobile services.”
Hmmm… Not exactly a clear response in terms of specific price implications for partners.
But perhaps the point is moot. Regardless of Microsoft’s own pricing strategies, third-party service providers are marching forward with hosted Exchange 2010.