Size and Cost
Naturally, the bigger the deployment and trial set, the more useful an advisor and guide is likely to be. In our prior coverage, we talked about a 10-seat BPOS deployment in a small business and came to the conclusion that BPOS might be a more expensive proposition in such low population settings. Molnar wouldn’t agree with us.
“If it’s $15 dollars for standard BPOS times 10 seats, that’s $150 a month—times 12 months is around $2,000 a year. Compare that with having to purchase a server and keep it on-site.Then you need to have someone support the server for you, doing the back-end administration and providing tech support when there’s a problem. You also have to back it up and make sure it’s properly managed. Often, that’s a gap in small organizations. Those are the benefits of BPOS. You’re putting it in Microsoft’s data center. They’re going to manage all that for you, make sure it’s backed up, and provide guaranteed service levels of three nines for the solution."
"Don’t forget the evergreen aspect, either—never having the expense and hassle of upgrading to a newer platform. You have to look at the overall picture. You’re bringing enterprise capability to smaller businesses. Even in a 10-user scenario, if you’re looking at it being $2,000 a year to provide that, that’s not a huge cost.”
Avanade generally doesn’t deal with small accounts, though, which is why the company is currently only working with about 50 clients on BPOS at present. That, of course, opens the field for smaller BPOS consulting shops. Within the companies it advises, Avenade spans every stage from initial conversations to early deployment steps.
Fifty may not sound like much, but these are companies with messaging environments that start at about 300 seats. Some reach up to over 100,000. Beyond the 15,000- to 20,000-seat level, some organizations may want to adopt “dedicated” BPOS rather than the standard version we’ve discussed thus far. The dedicated arrangement involves reserving dedicated hardware within Microsoft’s data centers, meaning servers and the requisite infrastructure to support that hardware. This entails a base data center charge as well as a monthly fee for the BPOS services.
Bring a Guide, Be a Guide
Application service providers arrived in the industry roughly 10 years ago, but the pioneers faced a harsh landscape. Bandwidth wasn’t cheap or fast, and early-generation applications were immature. Fortunately, the landscape has changed for the better, and now most businesses understand that their future platforms will be cloud-based.
For a cloud computing analog, you might look at the investment made in fiber optics during the late ‘90s. Communications providers took on the expense of laying these conduits expecting that everyone was going to soon enjoy unlimited bandwidth. There was a certain vision for how the world would be once the fiber was all laid. And while some of that vision has come to pass, other elements have been entirely unforeseen.
It’s a bit like the Bull Durham stadium idea. Once you build something like that, all sorts of unintended additional benefits and opportunities will arise. That’s why a lot of organizations are making the cloud computing bet, Microsoft and its “Azure” projects leading the pack. The major providers know that the time for cloud computing has arrived, and the time to stake their claims throughout the business world is now. BPOS is only one application of many, many to come.
Avanade and its advisor/reseller kin know what’s coming, and they’re positioning to be carriage and pickaxe suppliers aiding organizations as they move into new territories. You can always take your messaging platforms, pack up, and head west, but your odds of success in the cloud will improve greatly if you have a proper guide at your side. Or, looking at it from the other side, become a cloud computing guide yourself.