Microsoft delivers its first SaaS suite

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Microsoft delivers its first SaaS suite

Microsoft has announced Exchange and Office SharePoint will be available as online subscription services for US customers from today, and for UK customers from spring time next year.

“Today we bring business class communications and collaboration technologies to the cloud, and we are committed to delivering more capabilities in the months ahead,” said Stephen Elop, Microsoft Business Division president.

Exchange Online and Office SharePoint Online will be available separately or as a suite together with Office Live Meeting for conferencing, Microsoft Exchange Hosted Services and Microsoft Office Communications Online for instant messaging and presence.

“No one has done what we are doing at this scale, and I’m certain that our customers will continue to take on these solutions as our offerings grow,” Elop said.

Microsoft UK Office Server manager, Peter King, explained Microsoft's new services will be unique because other leading email and calendaring subscription services are from consumer firms that have then developed business offerings.

Also Microsoft will be offering customers a choice of three Exchange and Office models: on-premise, pure cloud, or a mixture of the two, he said.

“Twelve to eighteen months ago when software-as-a-service (SaaS) became a big buzz word used, we looked at the market and felt pure-play delivery would not fit every customer in a long way,” he said.

UK Microsoft Office marketing manager, Gill Le Fevre, said Microsoft was expecting 50 per cent of its business customers to be consuming email via SaaS in five years time.

UK customers that want to start trialling the new services should contact Microsoft’s Partner Unit immediately, she added.

Le Fevre noted this was the first suite of products that will sit on top of the recently announced Microsoft platform Azure. Microsoft unveiled the platform for cloud-based computing at its Professional Developer Conference held in Los Angeles last month.

“This platform will form the foundation for all Microsoft’s cloud services,” Le Fevre explained.

The Exchange and Office online services will be updated every six months, but customers can lag two updates behind the most current edition before they must upgrade, said King.

Microsoft also announced it will soon offer another SaaS offering that will help IT managers secure and manage desktops.

These online services will be based on components from existing systems management, identity and security offerings, Microsoft said.
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