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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