Microsoft Online: Standard vs. Dedicated Versions

Ferris recently had a briefing from Microsoft on the security of its Business Process Online Services (BPOS)--Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, etc. This presentation turned out to be of more interest to Ferris for its subtext than for the specifics it contained.

The subtext was that Microsoft was encountering concern (pushback?) from organizations about both the security of data held in Microsoft Online services, and the security of the services themselves. Stated another way, organizations appear to want to apply the same analysis to cloud-delivered services that they apply to on-premise-delivered services. We cannot believe that these concerns are unique to Microsoft, and are therefore an issue that will have to be addressed by all providers of cloud-based services and associated cloud-based data storage.

In an earlier posting, Microsoft Online: Security Issues, we addressed Microsoft's compliance with standards and conventions as a means of convincing organizations of the security of its cloud-based services and cloud-held data. In this posting, we address another approach of which we became aware during the presentation.

Microsoft is offering two variants of its Online services:

  • Standard
  • Dedicated

The Standard offering is delivered by Microsoft from multitenanted server platforms controlled and managed by Microsoft. An organization adds/deletes/configures users using a Web-based "Administration Center." In the case of Exchange Online, at least, some features of on-premise Exchange 2007 are missing. Namely, Public Folders, and IMAP and POP3 support.

The Dedicated offering is delivered by Microsoft from a dedicated, virtual server, platform/s controlled and managed by the customer. When employing a Dedicated offering, an organization is merely migrating its on-premise systems from its own data center/s to Microsoft data center/s, and no features are missing.

In previous briefings on BPOS, Microsoft had made no mention of these twin offerings. As noted in our earlier posting, this move by Microsoft seems to reflect significant pushback from organizations about replacing their on-premise systems with multitenanted cloud-based services.

... Nick Shelness

One Comment

  1. Posted July 14, 2009 at 12:02 AM | Permalink

    Your assumption that this is not a problem unique to Microsoft is correct, we’ve encountered this also so offer both ‘shared SaaS’ and ‘dedicated SaaS’ from the ‘Systems’ arm of our business.

    However the platform we use to deliver email services (Axigen) carries the same features for both offerings, even re-branding login pages and webmail.

    We’ve also noticed that our hosted email clients have come to us for a ‘premium’ email platform and that our credentials in the IT security space are important to them.

    Hope this insight helps.


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