As expected, Microsoft is now entered into the hosted services market. Initially they had launched Exchange Hosted Services whereby enterprises can leverage Microsoft's proven Anti-Spam and Anti Virus services. Recently, Microsoft announced its beta release of Exchange Online and SharePoint Online for small and mid-size businesses (SMBs), Fig 01.
Why such a solution from Microsoft?
Microsoft Exchange Server 2007, Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 and Unified Communications are difficult for small business to setup and manage the day to day operation. Also, when it comes to technology refresh/upgrade, it consumes substantial $$$$ from organization's budget.
Industry recognizes this challenge and also, realized that this should be utilized as hosted services at its best. At the same time, maintain the quality messaging and collaboration applications.
Sounds like another hurting by Microsoft?
This is not new to Microsoft as these types of offerings have been in the market from third party vendors for sometime. But Can Microsoft outsell the competitor presently in the market? May be in the future. They do not come up with services for third party applications for example, Blackberry enterprise server (BES). This piece of application is critical for Enterprises to increase employees productivity. Blackberry continue to lead in no#1 position in Mobile Messaging Market. This is why the current offering from Microsoft may not fly for most businesses unless they extend third party integration like blackberry, which will be very unlikely.
How is this Microsoft business model compared to existing third party in the market?
All these Microsoft Online services will be sold exclusively through partners but without any partner branding. The lack of partner branding reduces the partner’s relationship with the end customer as the customer realizes that the partner is not adding any value and simply reselling a commodity service. Meaning, this is not private label exchange hosting model.
In Private Label Exchange Hosting model, third party offers their unique platforms (e.g., Private Label Application Delivery or PLAD platform is one of such platforms from 3rd party company) and its designed to help resellers in such a way that they can sell these back to resellers hosted services totally under their own brand, use their own website by customizing it with unique user interface.
What are the reseller’s benefits from 3rd Party?
The working model of “private label solution” allows the resellers to stamp their brand with their customers while offering enterprise class hosting services in the Messaging & Collaboration area. Also, helps them to broaden its market and strengthen customer relationship. Some third party offerings to resellers are beyond just email hosting, for example Hosted CRM, SharePoint and even it goes to hosted PBX.
However, one common benefit I found in both Microsoft online and Private Label solution are, resellers or partners can avoid the expensive tasks such as Setup the infrastructure, Monitoring, maintenance, upgrading the hardware and software.