Finally: Microsoft “Online” Hosted Services

On July 7 8, Microsoft formally announced its new Online hosted services. These are "in the cloud", or software-as-a-service (SaaS) implementations of Exchange and SharePoint (not to be confused with Exchange Hosted Services, which is the hosted email security service formerly from Frontbridge).

Microsoft first announced this more than a year ago, and has been offering it in beta form for several months.

The services run in Microsoft's own datacenters, on shared hardware -- or dedicated hardware for larger customers.

We've seen a demo of the tools to migrate users from an in-house Exchange network to the service. It looks comprehensive. The most useful aspect is that a customer can choose a subset of their users to move to the service, retaining other users on the in-house system.

Naturally, the service allows customers to synchronize their Active Directory (AD) forest between their in-house AD servers and the ones in the cloud.

Of course, this puts Microsoft into direct competition with their partners who are already offering hosted Exchange/Sharepoint -- often using market development funds from Microsoft itself. However, this does at least validate the market. Microsoft will also allow partners to resell the Online services, with some attractive affiliate kickbacks.

... Richi Jennings

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