Anecdotal evidence suggests that managed service providers are pushing deeper into the Microsoft applications market. Most of the Microsoft-centric initiatives seem to involve hosted Exchange Server, Dynamics CRM and /or SharePoint applications.
The latest example involves Azaleos Corp. -- a well-known MSP focused on Exchange Server -- launching a managed SharePoint Server 2007 service called OneStop ViewPoint. The Azaleos strategy also involves a hybrid on-premise/off-premise MSP model, where some equipment is deployed at customer sites and other software runs remotely.
Here's what aspiring MSPs can learn from the Azaleos strategy.
The Azaleos OneStop ViewPoint service, in beta test now, offloads 90 percent of the tasks associated with SharePoint monitoring to Azaleos, according to the Seattle, Wash.-based company.
For MSPs that want to emulate Azaleos, there are several key lessons worth noting.
- Branding: Azaleos has successfully branded itself as "the managed Microsoft Exchange messaging services company." As Azaleos promotes managed SharePoint and other services, the company's corporate branding may have to evolve.
- Hybrid On-site/Off-site Model: MSPmentor is hearing more and more from MSPs that have hybrid management models. Fonality, for instance, offers on-site open source IP PBXs (running on Dell servers) that depend on centralized gear from Fonality. Azaleos seems to be following a similar model with its solutions.
- Microsoft Wins Again: To be sure, open source applications and software as a service (SaaS) present new challenges to Microsoft. (Learn more by reading about SugarCRM's momentum.) But plenty of companies -- from tiny Azaleos to distribution giant Ingram Micro -- are introducing hosted Microsoft applications for MSPs and/or their customers.