SAAS: Microsoft Exchange Hosted Services

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.

Microsoft’s Exchange Hosted Services (EHS)
Just as the name implies, a hosted solution is basically a SaaS offering that is available over the Web and runs on remote hardware that they or a vendor hosts. That vendor can be a specialty SaaS company (like RackSpace), a large software company (Microsoft) or even something a solution provider has built. Regardless, the concept is that the end customer is "leasing" or "renting" the software and hardware to gain access to the desired solution. Hosted solutions are becoming increasingly popular as prices fall and capabilities increase.

Many solution providers may consider Microsoft’s entry into the SAAS market a threat to their business revenues, but with some planning and forethought, along with some integration services, Microsoft’s EHS can generate revenue and help to build long-term customer relationships. The trick is to offer EHS as part of a larger solution and highlight the services benefits, while still leveraging an on premise solution as part of the mix. After all, any small business is going to need a lot more than just hosted Exchange and SharePoint.

With that in mind, we put together a configuration that offers onsite storage and file sharing, along with security and backup.

Network Attached Storage Appliance (2TBytes)    


Security Appliance/FireWall/UTM Device 


Data backup Solution (Drive & Software) 


Installation and Setup ($90/hour)


Estimated Maintenance & Support (3 Years)


Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite (10 users/3 years)


Solution providers will find that building a solution using Microsoft’s Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) works out to a three-year cost of $13,620 for a customer with 10 seats. Microsoft is compensating partners with a commission structure, where a registered partner will earn a commission of 18 percent the first year and 6 percent for any following years. In this scenario, a partner could expect to earn $540 in commission over three years, add that to the gross profit from hardware, services and support and a solution provider should expect to earn about $5,400.

While a solution built around BPOS offers the lowest gross profit for a solution provider, it does also turn out to be the least expensive solution for a customer. That said, solution providers should be able to derive additional revenue from the integration of additional products, training and support, all without busting the customers budget. 

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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