Saturday, July 19, 2008

Software Plus Services - An Interesting Development

Last month, I blogged about next generation internet application and how companies like Amazon are innovating on the business model side and scaling their infrastructure out to provide rock bottom prices. At the Enterprise 2.0 conference, Rishi Chandra from Google touched on a similar topic. Early July, Microsoft announced it Microsoft Online Services that can:
Help relieve the burden of managing and maintaining business systems, freeing IT departments to focus on initiatives that can help deliver true competitive advantage.

Microsoft Online Services include:
  • Office Live Meeting
  • Exchange Hosted Services
  • Dynamics CRM Online
  • SharePoint Online
The most interesting part of the announcement is the pricing. Microsoft introduces a new licensing model call a User Subscription License (USL). USLs are interesting because they blend online access and on-premise access. So if a company has bought a USL of Office Live Meeting, their users are licensed to use either Microsoft Online or an on-premise deployment of Live Meeting. This provides an interesting twist to the Software Plus Services that Microsoft has been touting for a little while now.

Licensing is very competitive as well. A USL for the Business Productivity Online Suite is $15 per month. That means, for $15 per month, a user can have access to Exchange, SharePoint server, Live Meeting and, when released, Office Communications Online. See the Office SharePoint write up for a good explanation of the licensing model. Customers can also license Microsoft Online piece meal:
  • $10/month for an Exchange USL,
  • $7.25/month for SharePoint,
  • $2.50/month for Office Communications
  • $4.50/month for Live Meeting
Each USL includes a storage allocation: 1GB per USL for Exchange storage and 250MB per USL for SharePoint, and additional storage can be purchased for $2.50 per GB per month.

Looking back at how Cloud Computing is shaping to be a disruptive trend, this announcement is particularly interesting. The business model part makes it particularly attractive to IT organizations as they can start testing out mixed deployment of hosted and on-premise while protecting their investment. It will be interesting to follow how this gets adopted, but in my opinion, this is indicative of a paradigm shift in our industry.

On a closing note, an interesting description of the infrastructure required to support this offering and telling on the level of investment:
  • 13 global datacenters (growing to 20 next year)
  • Replicated to two distinct datacenters to provide redundancy
  • Service guarantees a 99.9 percent SLA

Have you heard of CenterStage?

CenterStage is EMC Documentum next generation information workplace that will provide an integrated end user experience that's contextual, visual, multi-modal and personal. CenterStage will include two offerings:
  • CenterStage Essentials: a free client that requires the Documentum Content Server and provides basic content services functionality
  • CenterStage Pro: the full Web 2.0 client built upon CenterStage Essentials and the Documentum ECM platform.

CenterStage Essentials Beta will be announced with EMC Documentum 6.5 launch. We have also created a community on to manage the beta program. Join us there.