In my years of managing the SPLA program, I came to the conclusion that no one likes to babysit an Exchange server. Organizations do not have the resources or the time to constantly monitor a server, and hosters (if that’s a word) feel the pressure of managing a mission critical application such as email. If it goes down, not only can you lose a customer, but the customer might lose business as well!
For those hosters that feel up to the challenge, Exchange can be a very profitable opportunity. Whenever there is complexity, along comes value…which every hoster needs to run a business. What’s the downside? As always, there’s a concern over licensing.
Exchange for SPLA partners (hosters) comes in five flavors: Exchange Basic, Standard, Standard Plus, Enterprise, and Enterprise Plus. Each comes with different functionality as well as price. From experience, 90% of what is being reported is the Exchange Standard SKU. The breakdown of each SKU is as follows:
Exchange Basic – Think of OWA/POP Mail only
Exchange Standard – Features of Exchange Basic as well as shared calendaring and mobile device synchronization
Exchange Standard Plus – Features of Exchange Standard plus the full Outlook client
Exchange Enterprise – Includes all the features of Exchange Standard as well as unified messaging and anti virus/spam features
Exchange Enterprise Plus – All the features listed above plus the full Outlook client
The list above is just an overview, for a full feature list check out the SPUR (user section). The way you license Exchange is by user. Every user that HAS access to the software will need a license; not who does access. Think of your cable company, they will charge you regardless if you turn your TV on or not. User licenses works the same way.
In my opinion, the key to a successful Exchange launch is to offer a multi-tenant (shared) environment. If you license Windows by processor (Exchange runs on a Windows OS) and Exchange by user, the more users you have on that particular server the less expensive it is for the user. Eventually all you are charging is the cost of the Exchange license. That’s how large service providers are able to seemingly charge less. They have thousands of users accessing a limited number of servers in a shared environment.
If a customer wants a dedicated environment (one server hosting one client) the end customer can bring their licenses to you and you host it for them, or provide the licenses via SPLA, but the cost per user is going to be higher (unless it’s a large enterprise).
Once you offer Exchange, it makes it easier to offer other collaboration applications as well; such as SharePoint, CRM, and Lync. Who knows, you might become the next Amazon or Rackspace.
Thanks for reading!