Serena Software turned heads in 2008 when it announced it would replace Microsoft Exchange with Google's Gmail application to save upward of $750,000.
That migration was completed in March 2009 and Serena was happy for a while. How a year changes things.
Starting at $10 per user, per month, BPOS-S offers Web-based messaging and collaboration software hosted by Microsoft, including Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Office Live Meeting and Office Communications Online. Serena had been using Gmail and other Google collaboration applications through Google Apps, which costs $50 per user, per year.
Word on the high-tech street is that Microsoft gave Serena BPOS for free for three years, is migrating the company over for free and is providing a great discount on the overall enterprise agreement as well.
Did anyone ever think the world would see Microsoft giving software away for free? Of course not, and that's why the idea sounds a little suspect.
Perhaps Microsoft's strategy in the cloud collaboration market, where Google has over 2 million business customers, a three-year head start and a solid track record of satisfied customers, is to give a little in the hope of getting a lot of goodwill, if not new customers in the long run.
Microsoft declined to discuss terms of its arrangement with Serena and would not make executives available for comment, beyond this statement from Tim Rizzo, senior director of Microsoft Online Services: "Microsoft has the expertise businesses trust and offers competitively priced solutions that deliver proven results. When Serena Software required a collaboration platform that provided enterprise-class support, security and reliability, Microsoft responded. That is why Serena Software and the large majority of businesses around the world are choosing Microsoft."
Ron Brister, director of IT for Serena Software, denied that Serena is using BPOS for free. While he confirmed that Microsoft is helping Serena move from Google Apps to BPOS and that Microsoft gave him a discount on Serena's enterprise agreement, he declined to say how much of a discount or to discuss the financial arrangements.