Mi8 Moves Into MSP

Messaging ASP Mi8 adds MSP to its business description with new customer-premises based remote management offering.

Messaging ASP Mi8 Corp. on Tuesday added MSP to its business description when it announced its new customer-premises based remote management offering.

The New York messaging hoster added the option of installing a standardized configuration of Microsoft Exchange servers and supporting technologies at the customer site and of providing remote management of the installation from its own Network Operations Center.

The Mi8 OnSight Exchange System is a fully configured and tested Microsoft Exchange offering, installed at the customers site by Mi8, that includes clustered Exchange Servers, a RAID storage system, security, network connectivity and backup systems. Optional configurations include wireless connectivity, Exchange-based workflow applications and integration with other systems. Mi8 operators access the OnSight Exchange System over a VPN.

The new twist to the hosting game, however, comes as MSPs themselves move to the old model of licensing management tools they created to support their services directly to customers. LoudCloud, which has changed its name to Opsware, made such a move last month.

Mi8 CEO David Castellani believes the sweet spot for the new initiative is with installations that cover 2000 or more seats.

From a "TCO point of view," some prospects found that hosting didnt work because networking costs were too high for larger installations, said Castellani. And larger customers would have their own dedicated messaging servers anyway.

At the same time, having the servers "purring away" in the customers own data centers helps to ease customers into the concept of hosting.

"Hosting was an all or nothing proposition. Having the servers onsite and configured to our formula is more comfortable for some," said Castellani.

At the same time, the pre-configured and tested system allows customers to avoid the costly and time-consuming architecture design and deployment process, and it eliminates the need to hire more staff or train existing staff on how to configure and operate the Exchange servers.

Pricing for the system, available now, includes an upfront installation fee (which varies according to hardware configuration) and a monthly maintenance and per-user fee.

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