Hosted Microsoft Exchange Provider Intermedia Adds Unified Communications

By Jessica Davis  |  Print this article Print


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As prices of hosted Microsoft Exchange are commoditized, provider Intermedia is differentiating itself by offering higher levels of service and adding new functionality -- hosted unified communications offered through channel partners at a price of $50 per user per month.

In the dog-eat-dog arena of Microsoft Exchange hosting, you can either cut your prices or offer more value to your customers. Intermedia has done the latter by teaming up with Unison to offer a SAAS-based unified communications solution for $50 per user per month.

The offering includes the six requisites of unified communications as agreed upon by most analyst houses, Intermedia COO John McCormick told Channel Insider. They are email, instant messaging, telephony, wireless integration, conferencing (either video or desktop sharing), and a collaboration applications (such as Microsoft SharePoint).

Intermedia introduced the solution this week and will be offering it through its channel partners (who can white label the services) to its target small business customers. McCormick estimates the price of $50 per user per month to be about half of what competitive hosted offerings are when they are built on systems such as Microsoft’s or Cisco’s unified communications systems.

Such a system can help small businesses differentiate themselves in a competitive marketplace, McCormick said.

"Small businesses have a big challenge," he said.  "More than any companies, they need to be careful with their capital investment. Any capital they receive they need to put back in their businesses."

So it may make good sense for them to choose an operational expense UC system rather than invest in on premise equipment.

Intermedia noted that a report from Sage Research has found that implementing unified communications can save employees about an hour of time each day because information is shared more easily and decisions are made more efficiently, especially in organizations with remote locations and workers. In addition, total communications costs are reduced when compared to the cost of maintaining individual systems.

Intermedia’s new unified communications functionality comes just four months after Microsoft cut the prices of its BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite), the vendor’s own hosted offering of Microsoft Exchange and other applications. That brought the price of Microsoft’s hosted Microsoft Exchange down to $6 per user per month.

"A lot of the industry responded and lowered prices," McCormick said. But Intermedia held the line on Exchange hosting pricing at $10 per user per month, focusing on its message of value and support instead. McCormick notes that December and January were two of the company’s best months in over 15 months.

"Microsoft is not a service and support company," McCormick said.

"In that 10 user space I see Microsoft making good progress in coming year," he added. "We’ve shifted to the 50 to 500 user space."

Currently Intermedia has 240,000 seats of hosted Microsoft Exchange, and offers an average speed to answering support calls of 60 seconds. The company is the only one offering hosting of Microsoft Exchange 2010.


Jessica Davis covers the channel for eWeek and Channel Insider. Her technology journalism career began well before anyone heard of the World Wide Web and has included stints at Infoworld, Electronic News/EDN, and the Philadelphia Business Journal. Her work has also appeared on CNN and Forbes.com. She has covered hardware, software and networking, as well as the business side of technology. She has won several journalism awards, including a national ASBPE award for best staff-written column, and was named Marketing Computers hardest working tech journalist on their inaugural list of top tech journalists. Jessica can be reached at jessica.davis@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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