March 15, 2010, 4:57 PM — Enterprises of all shapes and sizes are catching on to the value in moving e-mail and other productivity apps to the cloud where they can be delivered and managed by vendors like Microsoft, Google or Cisco.
The major appeal of cloud is that it saves money, says Ron Markezich, Corporate VP of Microsoft Online Services.
But the benefits of moving apps out of your data center and into a cloud environment such as Microsoft's BPOS (business productivity online suite) go deeper than cost cutting, says Markezich. A cloud environment can speed up workflow simply by allowing workers to access e-mail from any Internet connection. It can get top brass using wikis and blogging to improve communication at a company. And it can take the burden of managing servers off the IT department and free them up to work on more business critical projects.
Yet the cloud still has certain stigmas that have kept some CIOs from allowing any data to leave the data center.
In this interview with CIO.com's Shane O'Neill, Microsoft's Markezich discusses the joys and potential pains of the cloud model for productivity apps.
How does the BPOS (business productivity online suite) work within an organization?
With BPOS, a company can choose to have Microsoft deliver SharePoint, Exchange, Office Communications Server and Live Meeting as an online service from a Microsoft data center, operated and delivered by Microsoft end to end. Customers continue to manage their own directory. We'll have a replica of their directory in our data center so we can run authentication off that directory.
BPOS includes any upgrades in hardware and software and we execute quarterly releases on our online services. Customers basically have a pipeline into our R&D investments with these services and can get the benefits much faster while saving money.
What are the price ranges for BPOS?
For the full suite, the list price is $10 per user per month for all four applications [Exchange, SharePoint, Office Communications Server and Live Meeting]. For e-mail only it's $5 per user per month. If you already own the software, be it Exchange or SharePoint, you get a discount on those prices.
A lot of customers have parts of their workforce that don't need the bells and whistles that the CEO or finance department needs. So we have an option called Deskless Worker Exchange Online that's $2 per user per month. It's the same platform and it still has a lot of the same features as Exchange Online but it's a little scaled down. It's a smaller mailbox; it's browser only access.
For CIOs who move productivity tools to the cloud - whether it be a hybrid situation or they go all in - what are the deciding factors there? What finally convinces them?