REDMOND, Wash. – March 21, 2007 – Yesterday at the Microsoft Hosting Summit 2007, Microsoft Corp. announced updates to two solutions for hosting service providers: Microsoft® Solution for Hosted Messaging and Collaboration (HMC) Version 4.0 and Microsoft Solution for Windows®-based Hosting Version 4.5. The solutions take advantage of new features in the recently launched Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 and Windows SharePoint® Services 3.0, two key Microsoft products that improve communications and information sharing and increase worker productivity. With these updates, service providers will have an expanded set of tools along with guidance to help them deliver a complete suite of hosted services to small and midsize businesses (SMBs).
“Hosting providers are at a critical crossroads as the demand for hosted services continues to increase exponentially, particularly from SMBs,” said John Zanni, director of Worldwide Hosting at Microsoft. “Successful hosters need to go beyond traditional hosting and cost-effectively develop and offer value-added services that will help deepen customer relationships and differentiate themselves from the myriad commodity options that currently exist. Microsoft provides the platform, solutions and guidance to help service providers achieve this.”
Key Benefits of HMC Version 4.0
The new version of Microsoft Solution for Hosted Messaging and Collaboration utilizes Exchange Server 2007, the industry’s leading platform for e-mail, calendaring and unified messaging. Exchange Server 2007 helps protect the organization with built-in technologies that provide high availability, reduce spam and viruses, enable confidential communications, and aid compliance of regulatory or corporate policies. Employees benefit from anywhere access* to their e-mail, voice mail, calendars and contacts from a variety of clients and devices. Exchange Server 2007 enables new levels of operational efficiency by optimizing hardware, networking resources and features that help make administrators more productive.
In addition to Microsoft Exchange Server 2007, Hosted Messaging and Collaboration also incorporates Microsoft Office Outlook® 2007, Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 and Microsoft Windows Mobile® 6 to provide a complete messaging and collaboration service delivering the best possible user experience.
“We rely on Microsoft to help us deliver premier on-demand e-mail and collaboration solutions to our SMB customers,” said Amir Hudda, chief executive officer of Apptix. “Due to recent acquisitions, we currently operate on multiple platforms comprising different architectures and provisioning systems. With HMC Version 4.0, we will be able to consolidate these systems onto a single platform and turn our focus to new revenue opportunities that will allow us to offer more applications, deliver best-in-class services and support, and attract more customers. We believe that the Hosted Messaging and Collaboration solution has matured to a point where we can now gain significant benefits.”
Reseller Opportunities With HMC
Service providers and resellers can also work with an HMC private-label provider such as groupSPARK to reach the SMB market with a variety of hosted services. GroupSPARK, a leading Exchange-hosting private-label provider, has developed a platform that allows it to power the HMC solution for resellers, including Web hosters, value-added resellers and systems integrators, that in turn resell the services to SMBs. This model enables resellers to speed time to market while requiring minimal investment in IT infrastructure.
“We work with groupSPARK to deliver to our SMB customers an enterprise-class e-mail and collaboration service that takes full advantage of HMC,” said Russ Sprunger, vice president of sales and marketing at EasyStreet Online Services Inc. “Choosing to white-label the service gave us an extremely quick time to market with minimal risk, while giving our customers the security-enhanced and reliable experience they were looking for. We not only offer customized services branded with our company name but also offer our customers the local EasyStreet technical support that they know and love.”
Web and Data Hosting Enhancements to Windows-Based Hosting Version 4.5
Microsoft Solution for Windows-based Hosting Version 4.5 helps service providers reduce operational costs for Web hosting and offer a broader set of Web applications to SMBs. The new version incorporates Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, which provides the ability to deliver lightweight Web-based applications to address specific business needs such as time management and project tracking. SharePoint also features collaboration tools that help organizations increase team productivity and streamline business processes. Available today with SharePoint 3.0 are 40 pre-built application templates. The SharePoint designer tool allows hosters and independent software vendors to customize the applications as well as easily create new ones to better address their particular client needs.
“As a Web hosting company with a strong focus on the SMB market, we find Windows SharePoint Services Version 3.0 to be a powerful enhancement to the Windows-based Hosting solution,” said Mark Richman, director of Windows Development at Affinity Internet Inc. “The addition of the new application templates helps our customers address real business needs and allows us to rapidly implement the IT solutions they require. The solution also enables us to more easily provision new customers and manage, monitor and update our systems so we can focus on delivering richer applications and better service to our customers.”
In addition to supporting Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, Windows-based Hosting Version 4.5 provides a Microsoft SQL Server™ Hosting Toolkit, which makes it easy for hosters to deploy a SQL Server database in their hosted environment. With ASP.NET AJAX framework support, hosters can now offer developers a richer environment on which to build next-generation Web applications. The technical guidance and tools delivered in Windows-based Hosting 4.5 help service providers lower operational costs and build new service offerings for SMBs.
Also available is guidance on how to utilize Microsoft Virtual Server in a hosted environment. This guidance outlines how Virtual Dedicated Hosting Scenarios offer new opportunities for service providers by increasing hardware utilization and enabling organizations to rapidly configure and deploy new offerings.
Microsoft Partner Ecosystem
With its hosted solutions in the market since early 2000, Microsoft is committed to providing the solutions, tools, guidance and ecosystem of partners to help hosting providers create a more dynamic Web experience for end users. To date, more than 1,000 partners worldwide deliver hosted Exchange services, and more than 250 are making use of Windows-based Hosting.
Microsoft Solution for Hosted Messaging and Collaboration Version 4.0 will be available worldwide in April 2007. More information is available at http://www.microsoft.com/hostedmessaging.
Microsoft Solution for Windows-based Hosting Version 4.5 is available immediately. More information on Windows-based Hosting can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/serviceproviders/solutions/windowsbasedhosting.mspx.
In addition, video clips from the Microsoft Hosting Summit 2007 that highlight these new solutions will be available at http://www.mshostingsummit.spaces.live.com.