Microsoft Corp. today announced Microsoft® Solution for Hosted Messaging and Collaboration 3.0, a next-generation hosted service that addresses the requirements of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). The new offering, which is made available through Microsoft’s service provider and hosting partners, builds on the strengths of Microsoft Solution for Hosted Exchange 2003 by adding support for hosted versions of Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2005 and Windows® SharePoint® Services. With this cost-effective solution, SMBs can enjoy the robust, enterprise-class e-mail, shared calendaring, contacts, document collaboration and instant messaging capabilities typically used by larger companies.
Microsoft Solution for Hosted Messaging and Collaboration is a hosted version of Microsoft’s family of productivity server products: Microsoft Exchange 2003, Live Communications Server 2005 and Windows SharePoint Services. For service providers, the solution offers a scalable, multiservice platform through which they can deliver a rich set of productivity services to small and medium-sized businesses, as well as enterprises and consumers. The solution also provides proactive monitoring, provisioning automation, delegated administration and centralized management, which allows service providers to consolidate their existing e-mail systems onto a single platform and reduce the cost of deployment, ongoing operation and support. Moreover, Microsoft Solution for Hosted Messaging and Collaboration enables service providers of all sizes to expand their product portfolio to generate additional revenue streams.
“Service providers recognize the huge untapped opportunity of offering ‘software as a service’ to small and medium-sized businesses,” said Pascal Martin, general manager for Hosting Solutions at Microsoft. “We are hearing from many small and medium-sized organizations that they need enterprise-class messaging and collaboration services but do not want the worry of keeping their systems safe against SPAM, viruses or other security attacks or having to recover lost data in the case of catastrophic event. At the same time purchasing these services from providers that offer personalized support and high levels of availability is very important to them. With Microsoft Solution for Hosted Messaging and Collaboration, we are enabling our service providers to run a profitable business and address their SMB customers’ needs.”
“The global software-as-a-service market continues to grow,” said Melanie Posey, research director of Telecom Markets at IDC. “Microsoft is on the right track with Microsoft Solution for Hosted Messaging and Collaboration. Businesses that can’t afford or don’t want to invest in on-site systems or technical specialists can now leverage hosted versions of Microsoft’s messaging and collaboration productivity applications from trusted service providers.”
Powering the Next Wave of Software as a Service
Microsoft Solution for Hosted Messaging and Collaboration will power the next generation of software as a service with new enterprise-class tools and services that help small and medium-sized businesses improve their productivity.
“We expect the market for hosted and e-mail services to reach 59 million accounts in 2008, up from 39 million today,” said Marcel Nienhuis, senior analyst at the Radicati Group Inc. “We attribute much of this rapid expansion to Hosted Exchange 2003, which has had a significant impact on the software- as-a-service hosted e-mail business. As demand for rich messaging and collaboration capabilities continues to grow, we expect that Microsoft Solution for Hosted Messaging and Collaboration, which we view as the next evolutionary step of Hosted Exchange 2003, will lead the way.”
For service providers, Microsoft Solution for Hosted Messaging and Collaboration offers the following key benefits:
—Faster time to market for hosters of all sizes. The new solution includes an upgrade to Microsoft Provisioning System based on Windows Server™ 2003 and a new deployment tool that automates 85 percent of the installation process.
—Maximized operational efficiency and cost-cutting. Using key products such as Microsoft SQL Server™ 2000 and Microsoft Operations Manager 2005, service providers are able to control their capital expenditures and reduce the cost of operation and centralized management through new reporting, filtering and security services.
—Increased revenue from launch of services. The new solution integrates two enterprise products—Windows SharePoint Services Hosting and the new Live Communications Server 2005 Hosting—making it easier for service providers to differentiate themselves and add new revenue opportunities.
“Microsoft Solution for Hosted Messaging and Collaboration sets a new standard for software as a service for small and medium-sized businesses,” said David Ramon, CEO of USA.NET Inc., a current Gold Certified Partner for Advanced Infrastructure and an early adopter of Microsoft Solution for Hosted Messaging and Collaboration. “With the new solution, we are now able to offer our customers an even richer service. We’re particularly excited about offering the document collaboration capabilities found in SharePoint Services hosting.”
“The next generation of Microsoft’s messaging and collaboration platform will enable Cobweb to maintain its leadership position in the delivery of Hosted Microsoft Messaging and Collaboration solutions,” said Julian Dyer, CTO at Cobweb UK. “With a reduced cost of ownership and the ability to launch new and enhanced services more quickly, the benefits of the new platform will help both our customers and channel partners.
Large-Enterprise Functionality Now Available for SMBs at Attractive Price Points
New features for small and medium-sized businesses include these:
—Rich hosted messaging. More than just an e-mail address, Microsoft Solution for Hosted Messaging and Collaboration offers a collaborative environment that allows users to share calendars and contact lists with colleagues and interact with the full-featured Microsoft Office Outlook® 2003 client.
—Real-time e-mail, calendar and contacts management. Using Outlook Web Access, customers can use any Internet-connected device to check e-mail by simply typing the URL and supplying a name and password.
—Collaboration tools. Windows SharePoint Services provides an integrated information dashboard for sharing notes, collaborating on projects and optimizing resources.
—Instant messaging. Microsoft Solution for Hosted Messaging and Collaboration supports provisioning for instant messaging, increasing efficiency through real-time communication.
“Until recently, small and medium-sized organizations have had an unmet need for enterprise-class messaging and collaboration applications as a service,” said Amy Rutt, president and CEO of Ciracom, a Fairfax, Va.-based information technology consulting firm. “With Microsoft Solution for Hosted Messaging and Collaboration, we will be able to share information and manage workflow throughout the organization with much greater efficiency. Equally important, because the applications are offered as a service, we can focus on managing our business, rather than allocating precious resources to on-site systems.”
Microsoft Solution for Hosted Messaging and Collaboration will be available worldwide Jan. 19. More information on Microsoft’s Hosting Solutions can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/serviceproviders/hosters/default.asp.