Is UK2 Microsoft compatible?

July 14th, 2007 by

UK2 has never been big on Microsoft, in fact when I got to know the company everything we had was based on Slackware – which is pretty much as far from Microsoft as you can get. Lately Dan and his team has begun using Redhat Enterprise for most of our internal servers, but even that is nothing like anything M$ has to offer.

The guys at Microsoft invited to me to their yearly summit in Denver last week, and this post is actually written on the airplane on my way back to UK.
It was an impressing conference, with more than 10.000 participants from all over the world, by far the biggest one I’ve ever been at. It was, however, the most well organised one I’ve attended as well. The guys at Microsoft managed to plan everything down to the smallest detail to perfection – it was a most impressing piece of logistics.

The actual conference was interesting as well – especially seen from the chair of a hosting executive like myself. Like many other larger ISV’s, Microsoft is making their big move into hosted services. What most in the industry call SaaS (Software as a Service) Microsoft has coined as “Software plus Service” – so what is that, and how will it change the way we work?

The traditional definition of SaaS is “a software application delivery model where a software vendor develops a web-native software application and hosts and operates (either independently or through a third-party) the application for use by its customers over the Internet. Customers pay not for owning the software itself but for using it.”, now with Microsofts Software plus Service model the clientbased software will still be significant, and you will not have to be online in order to use it (unlike the SaaS apps from Zoho, Thinkfree or Google docs), however if you are online you will have a suite of hosted features available on top of the basic functions your local PC brings you. On some applications like Outlook Exchange all content will be fully hosted others like Office live and their recent CRM applications will only be partly online.
So, in the future, when using your outlook exchange chances are that it will be in full sync with servers outside of your facilities/home, your officetemplates would be hosted the same place as your website and your CRM contacts shared with the rest of your organisation on an external server hosted somewhere like UK2. Another interesting part is their new pricing model which will be based on a monthly relatively low fee rather than the large upfront license cost we know now.

The interesting part seen from UK2 – and any other major hosting provider – is the fact that all those new services will have to reside on a server somewhere, and this is where we see an opportunity to make our move.
Thing is though, that Microsoft themselves are actually planning on making their own move into the hostingscene, providing hosted solutions using their own hosting facilities and thereby taking full ownership of both on and offline.

Sitting in the plane here trying to gather my thoughts on the last weeks presentations I am still a bit uncertain on how successful Microsoft would be serving endusers, dealing with the scale of both bits and bytes and individual clients with plenty of support questions. It will be interesting to see.

At the same time I am not fully convinced that moving into a Microsoft based world of services is the right thing for UK2 – somehow it seems like its so very far away from where UK2 started; providing simple but functional hosting/domains at the lowest possible price. On the other hand I must admit that a hosted Exchange setup does have its advantages, and assume that most of our clients actually do run a flavour of Exchange on their home/work PC’s.

I would love to hear your comments on this though…Would you buy hosted exchange from UK2? How about applications like Sharepoint?

Either way, you will hear more about this from us at a later stage…but I look forward to your feedback…

🙂
Ditlev

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17 Comments

IanK
# 14th July, 2007

Micrrosoft moving into Hosting? There should be no reason for smaller hosting companies to run scared – but only IF they provide a reliable, secure service. Bigger doesn’t always mean better.

Ditlev
# 15th July, 2007

Hi Ian,
Take a look at: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/officelive/FX101465131033.aspx
Thats what they offer in the US now. Its not much unlike the offerings of Google though…

I don’t think they will offer traditional hosting, basic FTP upload etc.
Who knows though – we will see 🙂

Ditlev

Ap0kalipSe
# 16th July, 2007

I can’t see MS moving into the ‘webspace’ provider market in a big way. IIRC their office live package comes with a free domain/25mb webspace for your business website but i would expect that to be the extent of it, just a bundled item off the back of a ‘larger’ feature.

From a business perspective it would also harm their entry into the webserver market with the ‘web’ edition of window server they released.

I’m not sure if there are many UK2 customers who rent dedicated servers from yourselves to run thier own dedicated game servers but as one of the UK2 gameserver admin’s we have seen a number of the dedicated servers for games shift from being *nix optimised to the windows platform, with some not even offering a *nix option or it being released months after the ship date.

The general opinion on Valve products now seems to be they run better on Windows as a server versus the *nix binaries.

IanK
# 16th July, 2007

Hmm……..reckon I took the wrong end of the stick! I’ve read a bit about SOFTWARE being hosted on remote servers, and companies like Microsoft charging a rental for its use. Suppose it is one way to stop piracy! Is this just the surface of what you are talking about Ditlev?
One comment taken from uk2forum.co.uk strikes a cord with me :

“..somehow it seems like its so very far away from where UK2 started; providing simple but functional hosting/domains at the lowest possible price…”

That may be where UK2 started, but time moves on and so do customer requirements. I don’t believe that is what customers want as the bottom line. I believe they want an easy to use, functional service that is reliable, and a service that backs them up and helps them when it goes pear-shaped. The lowest price factor may have been the most important thing a few years back, but not now.

Murrayh
# 16th July, 2007

Whilst I do host with you I have customers for whom I run a hosted Microsoft exchange and terminal services solutions for elsewhere. This hosted “environment” type service is good value for all in the in the 0-50 user world once they are convinced regarding reliability and the headline additional “per seat” investment. I suspect that Microsoft would like us all to rent a “virtual PC off them in the fullnes of time. Would you not be able to retain your IX backbone (and skills) in this scenario?

Ditlev
# 16th July, 2007

@Ap0kalipSe: MS actually discussed the gameserver scene quite a lot, obvoiusly with focus on the Xbox, but also in general. It seems like everything that is related to hosted services are focus for them now.

@IanK
Yup, I agree with you. The time of 2000′ when we could sell a million domains, and basically have price as the only unique selling point, is over. Basically, a domain is a domain is a domain, no matter where you buy it. Now its all about the service and support that comes with it.
That’s why I have more than three times the support staff than I had just a year ago.
That is also why I am not sure that MS would be able to move into this scene as a massmarket player. I am simply not sure they are aware of the supportload of running a large webhost.

@Murrayh
Interesting…If UK2 were offering Hosted Exchange, at the right price – would you have bought it from us?
And yes, you are right – eventually I think we will all be using virtual terminals hooking us up to the services that we need at the time.

Murrayh
# 18th July, 2007

UK2 would have been the preferred contender if the service was offered. As you suggest, hosting is about reliability, service and support. I have had no issues with my hosted domains with you (except of my own making) and that is the one tick in the box you need surely.

My only additional comment is that sometimes it is good to be able to telephone support rather than wait for a forum or email response to difficulties. Paying per minute for telephone support is not popular with resellers as often you can hang on for ages (paying) and then speak to somebody who needs to have the problem explained and then has little or no idea how to assist. Irritating!

Ditlev
# 18th July, 2007

Good points Murrayh – thanks for your feedback

Ap0kalipSe
# 20th July, 2007

The hosted solutions for small businesses certainly seems to be taking off in a large way now, particularily if it’s a managed server.

No doubt there are a good number of companies who would love the features of Exchange 2007 but don’t have/want the in house support to provide it. Hell if the price was right I’d buy it for myself + family as I don’t want to host e-mail from home, I want it always online in a datacenter somewhere. Corrently I run it off a linux solution using IMAP. To be able to use Exchange would be great.

James Markham
# 24th July, 2007

We use UK2 for a lot of our business (websites and email addresses). We would be very interested if UK2 offered a hosted exchange service

Harry Moyes
# 10th August, 2007

I’ve been a customer in a small way for about 8 years. I hope to remain a customer. What additional services you offer is your busniss choice, but please do not lose focus on your existing services. They are still required. I have no interest personally in SaaS offerings.

Harry

Matt Engelman
# 18th August, 2007

Thank you for consulting with the customers on this important issue.

I can understand why many companies and developers might seek Microsoft products. However, I have chosen UK2 because it is a straight Unix/Linux house; and I know that my Perl-driven applications will run fast and reliably. I will be happy either way, provided that support for the UNIX environment remains excellent.

Graham Sivill
# 20th August, 2007

I don’t know about you, but I would not want to rely on anyone external to my organisation to be responsible for either my data or the ability to run my applications. I would hate to be in the position where my broadband connection goes down and I can’t write a letter or work on a spreadsheet.

Google recently pulled the plug on a service they provided for downloading or renting movies in the US. Customers who had paid for movies from this service were told that once the service was pulled any movies they had purchased would no longer play (DRM Server gone) and all they got was a $2 refund!

Who in their right mind is going to put up with that sort of nonsense.

A while ago one of my clients asked about on-line backup of their data, again would you want some organisation like Google or MS holding the keys to your data?? I think not. Google seem quite keen to allow Government agencies to rifle through their search requests, would they do the same with stored backups??

ken johson
# 23rd August, 2007

i already use server based email by having hotmail plus, this is a great addition to how mail is delivered as i can retruve all my mails (from years back) no matter where i am.
however i would love to see sharepoint services offered at a reasonable rate as every time you try a new cool 2007 feature, it requires you to publish to a sharepoint server, which for the non enterprise customers is too expensive.
so i would be in favour of MS services if they are at UK2 prices,,,not MS prices.

P.s i too was impressed by my MS visit to las Vegas in june,

A bit about your mail clients | UK2
# 28th August, 2007

[…] I mentioned to you earlier we were looking into providing hosted Microsoft Exchange. We are still looking into that, and it […]

Ap0kalipSe
# 7th September, 2007

@Graham,

Here at my company we have offsite backup’s provided by a 3rd party as a managed service, and i would recommend it 100% to anyone, it’s fantastic.

Whilst i think you have a valid point, and can agree that we wouldn’t want to externally host certain services for the fears you mention ,there’s always a risk v’s cost benefit ,and from a small business point of view the functionality etc that comes from hosted and managed services generally would outweigh the costs of running it inhouse imo.

Manuel
# 29th February, 2008

I agree with Ditlev.

I don’t think that Microsoft is really thinking about moving into the hosting arena.
It seems that they are pushing hard to have hosting companies to support their products and their platforms.

They are increasing partnership programs for hosting providers, they’re focusing on the development of web based applications and softwares but i can’t see any real step from Microsoft to push into the Hosting business.

I don’t agree with Ditlev when he says that MS is not aware of the supportload into a large hosting company. At least in the US, they have a support team working side by side with their Gold Hosting Partners in order to get feedbacks on the products and the most common user issues, beta testing etc.etc. So they should be aware of it(maybe that’s why they decided to stay away from the webhost business).

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