SaaS Partners Boost Open-Xchange
Channel partners are facing yet another Microsoft inflection point. The key issue: Should VARs move customers to the new Exchange 2010 release — on premise or in the cloud? Or should solutions providers scour the market for alternatives? Before you answer check out some recent momentum involving SaaS partners and Open-Xchange.
As you may know, Open-Xchange is an open source email system. The company claims 2009 was a banner year; more than 15 million people worldwide are running Open-Xchange, an 80 percent increase from 2008.
But here’s the real twist: Many of the deployments involved SaaS (software as a service) channel partners. True believers, according to Open-Xchange, include…
- Versatel, Germany’s third-largest telecommunications provider with 1.3 million e-mail accounts;
- Dotster, among the world’s largest domain name registrars servicing hundreds of thousands of customers worldwide;
- NameCheap, which manages 1 million domains;
- Nexen-Alterway Hosting, the French leader in open source web hosting; and
- NTS, a distributor in the Asian market.
Looking ahead, Open-Xchange hopes to grow to 26 million users in 2010, according to a prepared statement from CEO Rafael Laguna.
Sounds promising. But The VAR Guy is careful to keep Open-Xchange’s momentum in perspective. Some key thoughts, challenges and questions:
- Is the company solidly profitable? Difficult to say since Open-Xchange is privately held.
- The email and collaboration markets remain fiercely competitive. There are numerous open source email systems in the market — including Yahoo’s Zimbra.
- The hosted Exchange market also offers VARs plenty of opportunities. A prime example: Intermedia offers a white label Hosted Exchange 2010 service to solutions providers.
- Microsoft itself is promoting BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite), a set of SaaS applications that includes Exchange.
- And let’s not forget Google Apps — which just won a big deal with the City of Los Angeles.
Despite those competitive pressures, Open-Xchange says it’s poised for growth in 2010. The VAR Guy will be watching to see which route SaaS partners choose…