Microsofts Markezich and the Cloud

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-02-21 Print this article Print


Ron Markezich, corporate vice president of Microsoft Online Services, doesn't think the notion of what solution is better is so cut and dry. That's because what is better is a matter of perspective based on customer needs.

"Customers are all in different situations," Markezich told eWEEK. "Whether a customer wants to go 100 percent to the cloud today or if they want to go to the cloud in a measured approach in a period of years, we want to make sure we can bet on Microsoft to serve their needs. No one else has credible services that are adopted by some of the larger companies in the world."

Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite, or BPOS for brevity's sake, is Microsoft's counter to Google Apps. Available worldwide since March 2009, this package includes Microsoft Exchange Online with Microsoft Exchange Hosted Filtering, Microsoft SharePoint Online, Microsoft Office Communications Online and Microsoft Office Live Meeting.

To meet the needs of smaller companies with tighter budgets, or just those who need lightweight, lower cost e-mail and collaboration software, Microsoft also offers the Business Productivity Online Deskless Worker Suite, which includes Exchange Online Deskless Worker for e-mail, calendars and global address lists, antivirus and anti-spam filters, and Microsoft Outlook Web Access Light for access to company e-mail.

SharePoint Online Deskless Worker provides easy access to SharePoint portals, team sites and search functionality.

The standard version of BPOS costs $10 per user per month, or $120 per user per year. BPOS Deskless Worker Suite is $3 per user per month, or $36 per user per year.

However, users may also license single apps as stand-alone services from $2 to $5 per user per month. This is a departure from Google's one price for one year GAPE package.

Microsoft uses the same code base for its BPOS package, as it does its on-premises versions of Exchange and SharePoint, making it easier for legacy customers to migrate to BPOS should they decide to move to the cloud. Microsoft believes this increases the likelihood that customers will stick with Microsoft instead of fleeing for Google Apps or IBM Lotus.

Markezich claimed Microsoft has an advantage over Google because customers who choose to migrate to Google Apps from Microsoft or IBM still can't get the migration "spend out."

Moreover, Markezich claimed three-quarters of Microsoft's cloud customers are coming from Lotus Notes, including pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, McDonald's and Pitney Bowes, he added:

"The reason they are coming from Notes is they've always wanted to get off of Notes onto Microsoft, but they didn't want to invest in the hardware and skills in that transition. Microsoft Online gives them an easier, faster path to get to a higher caliber communications and collaboration platform."

GlaxoSmithKline CIO Bill Louv said he is moving his 100,000 customers from Lotus Notes to BPOS because it will cut operational costs by some 30 percent.

Louv added that using BPOS Deskless Worker makes a great lightweight option for the company's sales employees who use the Web from Internet kiosks instead of corporate-issued laptops.

Microsoft doesn't disclose exactly how many paying users it has, but Markezich confirmed BPOS has more than 1 million paid seats.


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