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Office 365 Partners Extend UC And Email Options

Azaleos delivers managed hybrid services offering for UC; LiveOffice focuses on email archiving and discovery tools.

Office 365 Vs. Google Apps: Top 10 Enterprise Concerns
Office 365 Vs. Google Apps: Top 10 Enterprise Concerns
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Azaleos is using Tuesday's final release of Microsoft's Office 365 service to announce a new managed hybrid services (MHS) offering for customers who are reluctant to go "all in" with Microsoft's cloud-delivered service for unified communications (UC) and want to run a hybrid of public cloud, private cloud, and on-premises solutions.

As Azaleos' first MHS offering was integrated with Office 365 predecessor Business Productivity Online Standard (BPOS) suite, the second-generation MHS is tuned to the new Microsoft cloud service, said Scott Gode, VP of product management and marketing for Azaleos.

An Azaleos study, conducted by Osterman Research, indicated that while adoption of cloud-based email and other enterprise applications is fairly strong, implementation of cloud-based UC services is relatively slow. Of the 100+ IT professionals surveyed, 42% say they had no plans to migrate to public-cloud delivered UC; 29% were not sure; 19% said they would definitely migrate but not for another year; 8% said they would migrate in the next six to 12 months; and only 2% said they'd do so within the next three to six months.

Of greatest concern to those reluctant to migrate is the lack of control over customization, uptime, and security, said Gode. Office 365 is a public cloud service since it is all delivered from Microsoft's own data centers.

"In order to engineer Office 365 or any public cloud application, there has to be a large degree of one-size-fits-all planning that goes into that service," he said. If a provider like Microsoft had to customize its cloud-based UC offering for each unique customer, the slim margins they already operate by would be smaller still, he said.

In that case, Azaleos delivers a hybrid service that keeps customized services associated with Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync on-premises and puts cloud-appropriate services in the Office 365 cloud.

"You can imagine a scenario where a customer could say, 'I'm running a manufacturing organization, 40% of my users are factory floor workers and I just need to give them basic email, there's not high customization necessary. Whereas, I've got white collar workers who need to connect to all sorts of ERP, Salesforce, or automation applications that require a high degree of customization,'" Gode said.

Other features of the Azaleos MHS--pricing for which starts at below $10 per user per month--are setup and configuration services; unified management of on-premises, private; and public cloud systems; and Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS). The ADFS feature allows single sign-on behind the firewall for Active Directory to access the public cloud, as well as the on-premises and private cloud services. That protects the customer's network from potential security threats in the cloud, Gode said.

Another company hitching itself to the Office 365 launch is LiveOffice, which has introduced new email archiving, compliance, and e-discovery tools integrated with Office 365. LiveOffice says data created in the cloud can be as easily "captured, retained, searched, and supervised" as data on premises.

LiveOffice gave no specific pricing for its service except to say it will be sold on a per user, per month basis.

As the volume of corporate data continues to grow, IT pros keep investing in new storage usage technologies. Compression still ranks No. 1, according to InformationWeek Analytics' 2010 Data Deduplication Survey, though respondents rely increasingly on dedupe, as well as thin provisioning and MAID. Download it here (registration required).

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