SAAS or On-Premise E-mail: Which is Best?

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Print this article Print


Desktop-as-a-Service Designed for Any Cloud ? Nutanix Frame

To host or not to host, that is the question many solution providers are asking themselves when it comes to e-mail and collaboration packages. Find out which ones serve the customer best, while still preserving solution provider revenue.

No application has succeeded in superseding e-mail as the killer app of modern business. While few people think of e-mail as being a business-enabling tool, few people would want to run their business without persistent access to digital messages from employees, contractors, suppliers, partners and—most of all—customers.

Microsoft Exchange has long held the dominant title in the e-mail server and application market. Businesses from small shops to large enterprises rely upon Exchange or similar server-based applications to efficiently deliver messages. But the advent of software-as-a-service, services software licensing agreements and the rise of cloud-based delivery systems is making service-based e-mail and collaboration alternatives more viable. Even Microsoft has launched its own Exchange services.

For solution providers, Exchange services—or e-mail as a service—presents a particularly thorny problem. Which SAAS e-mail model is best and how do you make money selling a service that is prepackaged and delivered by someone else? What are the after-market, value-add opportunities? And which will provide the best value to customers and the most profit?

To answer these questions, Channel Insider applied a common small-business implementation scenario to three different e-mail and collaboration packages—hosted, hybrid and premise-based solutions. For the hosted solution, we chose to look at Microsoft’s Exchange Hosted Services (EHS). For the hybrid solution, we checked out CentralPointe Managed Network Services. For the premise solution, we went with Microsoft Small Business Server 2008.

To properly compare the various products, we created a level playing field. We chose to look at each solution and rate how it would work for a small business consisting of 10 employees. That business would run the normal complement of applications, access the Internet and support the occasional remote worker. We also chose to look at the costs over a three-year period, which tends to be a normal refresh cycle for a small business network and assumed that the business already has broadband access and Windows PCs.

Each of those choices has pros and cons for both solution providers and their customers. The trick is to identify the solution that’s the best fit for a particular business and that may consist of a multitude of factors, including line-of-business applications, number of employees, satellite offices, remote workers, storage needs and office suites.

Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at frank.ohlhorst@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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