Seismic Changes

Ingram Micro leads Microsoft partners to recurring revenue streams by adding private-label hosted Exchange, SharePoint and CRM services to its Seismic SaaS offerings.

Ingram Micro announced it has added three key Microsoft products-Exchange, SharePoint and CRM-to its Seismic family of hosted Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings aimed at partners that want to deliver managed services to their customers.

Until now, the Seismic brand of SaaS offerings, which is provided through Ingram Micro's Seismic Virtual Services Warehouse, included remote monitoring and managed (RMM) services from Level Platforms Inc.; a Managed Network Operations Center, a Managed Help Desk and professional services automation (PSA) Software through a deal with Autotask Corp.; E-mail and Web Defense Services through a deal with MX Logic Inc.; Online Backup and Restore, based on VaultLogix LLC technology; and Print Monitoring and Management from Print Audit.

Now the vendor has added Microsoft Exchange 2003 and 2007, Windows SharePoint 3.0 and Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 to the mix.

"It's delivered as a service, in a hosted manner, so partners don't have to handle application integration, installation or any of that," explains Justin Crotty, vice president of services at Ingram Micro. "You simply buy it on a per-mailbox or per-user basis. It makes it much easier for the partner to manage and deliver."

The new offerings provide some key features designed to make partners' lives easier, including daily backups, 99.9 percent guaranteed uptime on shared servers and 100 percent uptime on dedicated servers, as well as the ability to perform automated customer setups via a Web portal and an automated process for adding BlackBerry devices and other mobile phones to the service. Plus, partners can take advantage of a 30-day, no-obligation trial for each of their end customers.

With average pricing running at about $8 per user, the services are also easy for most partners to swallow. "Not only is the price point a good one for the service, but then you have to take into account you don't have to buy the equipment to run this stuff and you've got full admin and management capabilities delivered by the third party if there are issues," Crotty says. "It's a multi-value offering, which is why SaaS is kind of a neat idea."

Partners agree. "From the partner perspective, a key thing here is that the value of the recurring dollar is a lot higher than a one-time dollar for simply selling Exchange into a customer site," says Martin McCarthy, general manager at Synapse Information Technology, a Seismic partner in Eugene, Ore. "It's now a revenue stream, rather than a one-time event, and that really helps."

Ingram Micro

Seismic Hosted Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings for Windows SharePoint 3.0, Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 and 2003 and Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0.

SharePoint and Exchange offerings were available in April; CRM was expected to be available in mid-June.

Hosted Exchange 2003 and 2007 starts at $5.50 per mailbox per month for Outlook Web Access (OWA) only. Full Exchange capabilities cost $8 to $25 per mailbox per month, depending on the storage for each mailbox. SharePoint pricing ranges from $8 to $175 per user per month, depending on storage. Dynamics CRM pricing will be similar but was unavailable at press time.

Key Features
  • Fully hosted SaaS offerings designed to ease partner entry into managed services.
  • Comes with daily backups and a 99.9 percent uptime guarantee on shared servers and 100 percent uptime guarantee on dedicated servers.
  • Provides automated customer setup tools for new users and mobile devices such as BlackBerry devices and smartphones.
  • Other hosted Exchange, SharePoint and CRM offerings from companies such as Postini (recently acquired by Google Inc.) and AppRiver.
  • Because it's a service, vs. a point product, it providers partners with a recurring revenue stream.
  • Because it can be packaged with other managed services, it insulates partners from competing on price alone.
  • Offerings can be private-labeled, increasing partners' visibility and value proposition.

The Competition
There are several competitive offerings in the marketplace for partners looking at hosted Exchange and other Microsoft services, including those from companies such as Postini (recently acquired by Google Inc.) and AppRiver. What differentiates Ingram Micro's Seismic offerings is that partners can private-label the services.

"Being able to private-label it shifts it away from becoming a commodity, which hosted Exchange mailboxes could become," McCarthy says. "It lets you have value conversations instead of price conversations."

He says he sees the new Microsoft offerings as a way to add value to the services he already provides. "If I have a base managed service package, with 24x7 monitoring, remediation of server and network-attached devices and help desk, now I can add hosted Exchange mailboxes or SharePoint, too. With small and midsize businesses, that gets you closer to being an outsourced IT department. And that's where the real value comes in."

Marketing and Sales
Ingram Micro provides several partner aids on its Web site, and a good place to start is the services section ( servicesdivision). Here, partners can get free offers, access to a reseller portal and Seismic webinars, and a complete overview of the Seismic VAR reseller program. In addition, partners can take advantage of a free 30-day trial of the new Microsoft services for each of their end customers.

McCarthy says the program also makes it easier to keep customers on the latest software versions. "This is a much cheaper way for clients, especially in midsize environments, to get new technology, at least up-front," he says. "If a client is considering the features and benefits in Exchange 2007 and they already have Exchange 2003, typically it requires hardware, a new operating system and then Exchange itself. And that's going to cost a chunk. Instead, they can use the hosted Exchange 2007 environment, and then they're paying just per-mailbox."

The Final Word
The new Seismic hosted Exchange, SharePoint and CRM offerings from Ingram Micro are key tools for partners looking to get into the managed services arena without having to invest in expensive software licenses and hardware infrastructure.

"There's no reason a VAR should be getting into the admin and user management of this stuff when it can be done so simply and easily via third parties-for a good value proposition and a good profit opportunity for the VAR."

Tech Spotlight: Mobility Apple brings buzz to the market that could translate into sales of other types of smartphones in the short run. By Scott Bekker/RCP Staff

Corporate mobility has been a consistently hot market for the channel over the last few years, with customers clamoring to have their corporate e-mail systems, especially Microsoft Exchange, accessible anywhere through handheld devices.

It's a market dominated by Research in Motion Ltd. and its BlackBerry devices and by smartphones from Nokia. But consumer-technology darling Apple Inc. is making a splash July 11 that could have ramifications on the corporate side.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled Apple's second-generation smartphone, the iPhone 3G, and its accompanying iPhone 2.0 software on June 9. The iPhone 3G will be available July 11 in an 8GB model for $199 and a 16GB model for $299. As the name implies, the new smartphone brings support for the 3G data network, which is much more robust than the first-generation iPhone's EDGE network. Users still must enter into a contract with AT&T to use an iPhone.

More to the point for the Microsoft channel, Apple has introduced support for Microsoft Exchange. The new iPhone will integrate with Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 and Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 through support for Microsoft ActiveSynch, which allows customers to receive e-mail, calendar and contacts. The phone also supports Cisco IPSec VPN and wireless network services with WPA2 Enterprise and 802.1x authentication.

Computer-Like GUI
Having brought a desktop-like, rather than a mobile-phone-enabled Internet browsing experience to the iPhone in the first generation, Apple now touts the iPhone 3G's ability to display HTML e-mail, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint and PDF documents much like a computer shows them.

Apple also added remote wipe capability, a key checkbox for corporate IT executives concerned that a lost or stolen phone carrying company secrets or private customer data could lead to disaster. Further, Apple is encouraging corporate developers to create applications for the phone, and the company says a software development kit for the iPhone had been downloaded 250,000 times since March.

Analysts don't see iPhones immediately, or possibly ever, taking over the corporate market. Reasons include Apple's cultural reluctance to commit major resources to meeting the special requirements of corporate and enterprise markets, concerns over whether the security features in the iPhone are robust enough and technical quibbles with the way Apple handles the remote-wipe functionality. In the short term, the iPhone seems more likely to be a conversation starter for customers and their solution providers, and those talks could lead to a sale involving a different brand of smartphone.

For existing players like RIM, observers note that Apple's moves have helped drive down stock values as Wall Street reacted to the buzz around the iPhone. But in the world of unit shipments, Apple's announcements have translated into substantial sales increases, according to executives from RIM, Palm Inc. and Nokia.

Other Offerings
Meanwhile, other companies have also been busy with their mobility offerings.

RIM is at work on the 5.0 version of the BlackbBerry Enterprise Server (BES), code-named "Argon," the software that connects to Exchange and Lotus Domino servers and allows administration and management of BlackBerry devices. General availability is tentatively set for the end of this year.

Like Apple, RIM sees mobile applications as a key to growth in the platform. To enable that on the enterprise side, BES 5.0 will include new features for surfacing, securing, deploying and managing mobile applications in enterprise settings with hundreds or thousands of BlackbBerry users.

At the same time, RIM plans to release a new smartphone called the BlackBerry Bold this summer. From the timing to the RIM description of the phone, the device seems to be aimed squarely at providing an alternative for customers who might be considering an iPhone 3G but have more buttoned-down requirements. In a May announcement, RIM described the BlackBerry Bold as "crafted from premium materials, inside and out, that radiate elegance."

The company says the Internet browsing experience will more closely match a desktop browser.

Building on its January 2007 acquisition of Good Technology, Motorola Inc. in June announced plans to roll out version 6.0 of the Good Mobility Suite later in the year. Similar in functionality to BES, the Good suite provides tools for managing smartphone devices and provides the back-end connections to Exchange and Domino.

The 6.0 version will include a new managed-service VPN and an enhanced device-management and security platform.