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…