Hosted Exchange: build in-house or use private label?
Businesses of all sizes are looking at ways to drive efficiencies and are increasingly moving towards hosted options, particularly hosted Microsoft Exchange. The analyst group Radicati suggests that Microsoft Exchange will have 200 million users by 2009, so as a Web hosting company it’s a great opportunity for you to increase revenues from existing customers, as well as to attract new customers.
The question is whether it is more beneficial for you to build and maintain the infrastructure in-house or use a private label service to deliver hosted products to your customers.
The hosted services you’ll deliver are business critical applications such as email, so it is essential that they are always available to your customers without any extended downtime. In order to guarantee this, it is critical that you start with the correct hardware and software, and that it is configured, maintained and supported by trained personnel.
In addition, the hosting environment must be kept up-to-date and under the correct conditions. Your customers will also need to know that their data is safe and that they can get help if they have a problem, no matter what time of day or night it is. This often makes support a deciding factor.
To build your own in-house infrastructure, you will need a capital investment of up to $100,000, and you can expect to continue to pay for running costs and upgrades. Building and maintaining an in-house infrastructure also requires experience, planning and a highly skilled team to make sure that everything is managed efficiently.
Using a private label service means that all of this is taken care of for you: there are no up-front costs of buying and configuring the hardware and software; there are no ongoing upgrade or maintenance costs; and the service provider manages the Exchange environment, security and backup 24×7.
All you have to do is sell the service and provide tier-one support for basic problems customers may encounter, such as mailbox creation, email access and updating their DNS – most service providers will also offer tier-one training for your support teams. Any tier-two (technical) problems and inquiries can be escalated to the service provider, where they will be dealt with by a specialist support team.
In order to sell hosted Exchange to customers with confidence, you need to know that the service is reliable and secure. Your service provider should be able to give you this confidence. Our private label services, for example, are run in the latest Class A datacenters with N+1 redundancy, which are designed to create the optimum environment for servers and other hardware. This includes redundant power feeds, uninterruptible power supplies, backup generators, cooling and the latest security. The state-of-the-art systems are also designed so that there’s no one single point of failure, which means that they are incredibly reliable and can offer a minimum of 99.9 percent uptime.
Further, access to servers is restricted to a limited number of authorized engineers and security is strictly enforced using the very latest technology, including video surveillance, motion sensors and controlled ID key-cards, as well as security guards stationed at every entrance to the site.
In terms of selling to customers, private label programs often have services that are completely customizable, so you can match all color schemes, wording and logos to your company’s other assets. Some suppliers also offer professional Exchange marketing collateral designed for easy re-branding and even run joint business planning programs with partners.
As a result, you can now offer customers the best products that allow them to take advantage of enterprise-class Microsoft Exchange email and collaboration tools for a low per mailbox monthly fee, without the cost of buying, running and supporting the hardware and software yourself. There’s simply no reason to do it in-house.