Apptix: Hosted Exchange Provider – Back on Track?
What a difference two years can make. At least, that’s what Dave Ehrhardt, president and CEO of hosted communications company Apptix, tells me. When his executive team came on in 2008, Apptix was a company in crisis, struggling to grow its business even as Apptix tried to figure out exactly what market it was servicing. Today, they’re providing messaging for 100,000-seat enterprises and making money amid a mixed economy. Here’s how Apptix apparently got back on track, and where VARs fit in.
In 2008, Apptix wasn’t providing much beyond hosted Microsoft Exchange, Ehrhardt says, and the company was segmenting internally even as it fell behind its competitors in the race to add services to its portfolio. They couldn’t decide if they were integrators, or hosted services providers, or any number of any things.
It was Ehrhardt and his new team who decided that Apptix was in the market of selling utility computing services to businesses of any size, from 10 seats all the way up to 100,000 — the latter, a deal that was announced in February 2010 with an unnamed US healthcare system. To that end, Apptix built up their on-demand cloud platform that lets them — and their channel partners — deliver messaging, VoIP, and collaboration solutions as a service.
“What we’ve done over the last couple of years is build a robust platform with SLAs,” Ehrhardt says.
Once the platform was in place, Apptix could offer all kinds of services to all kinds of enterprises. Apptix now offers what they unofficially call “SMB-in-a-box,” which is a bundle of hosted, managed services like e-mail and BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) so startups don’t have to worry about IT, just their business.
So what does the future hold for Apptix, now that their business is bolstered by on-demand services? For starters, Ehrhardt says that they’ve only just begun a grow out through the channel, enticing new partners with the strength and reliability of their solution, as well as what he calls “incredible” margin opportunities. I’m also told that Apptix will be branching out into hosting desktop applications sooner rather than later while also growing their cloud portfolio.
Still, it’s always difficult to pinpoint a privately held company’s overall business performance, since private firms don’t have to disclose net income and other financial metrics. Updated May 13, 2010: Correction, Apptix is publicly held on the Oslo Exchange. Here’s a look at their latest financial results.
Also, plenty of broader industry challenges remain. From Microsoft’s own BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite) to a range of hosted Exchange rivals, Apptix will need to continually differentiate in the crowded market for SaaS and managed services.