At first glance, there does not seem to be much difference between Microsoft (News - Alert) Office 365 and third-party hosted Exchange services. Third-party hosted Exchange services cost about $6 per user per month and so does MS Office 365. However, the differences between the two go beyond pricing. It is important to consider the fine print, especially when it comes with bundled offerings and service level agreements (SLAs).
Many value-added resellers (VARs) and managed service providers (MSPs) like Avnet Technology Solutions (News - Alert) and SherWeb have relationships that raise serious questions. Cloud service providers (CSPs) that offer various collaboration applications including Microsoft hosted Exchange and SharePoint are teaming up with IT distributors looking to offer cloud service initiatives. Although, why should VARs and MSPs consider relationships like the one between Avnet and SherWeb rather than work directly with Microsoft? How do such relationships provide more value to channel partners that goes beyond marketing relationships?
One of the most obvious benefits is the control of end-user customer pricing. Speaking directly with service providers like SherWeb and Microsoft offers you a better deal. On the fine print, these relationships offer 100 percent while label capabilities, full customer ownership as well as technical support from the service providers at no cost. Other benefits include partner migration support, zero upfront costs, full disclosure of data center and facilities locations and several other capabilities.
As a channel partner, it is good to compare and contrast the dozens of options in the market including rivals of Office 365 like Tech Data (News - Alert) TDCloud and Synnex CloudSolv. Rather than make a decision based on a per-seat pricing, looking at the fine print details contained in the SLAs will help you pinpoint the subtle differences between hosted Exchange providers and thus make an informed decision before shifting your customers into somebody’s cloud infrastructure.
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Edited by Brooke Neuman