All businesses have goals and visions that they wish to attain in order to increase productivity, performance, and profitability. Within the realm of communications, there are several common goals which are always sought:

  • To enable every employee, regardless of location, to have access to critical business information - e-mail, contacts, account information, critical documents, schedules, announcements, discussions and tasks
  • That highly mobile employees have 'always on' access to the information they need to do their jobs, whether they are at the office, at the client site, at home or on the road
  • To ensure that critical business information is protected, secured and archived to ensure the business can recover in a time of disaster - from a simple lost PC to a destroyed building
  • That the day-to-day operational headaches of maintaining, enabling, preserving and protecting this critical business information are minimized or eliminated

Microsoft Hosted Exchange

Technology can be a great enabler for small and medium businesses. It can make every employee more efficient, more productive and more valuable. True business efficiency and effectiveness is characterized by anywhere access, peace of mind and the ability to get more done.

Unfortunately, small and medium businesses struggle with the technology required to be 100% efficient. The following headaches are common:

  • Limited IT Resources - Many businesses suffer from limitations in IT resources who are already fully taxed supporting other systems within the business.
  • Increasing Complexity of a Mobile Workforce - Employees are moving 'out of the office'. Extending technology to these mobile employees presents additional security and technology risks and complexity.
  • High Total Cost of Ownership - Purchasing, integrating, deploying and maintaining business-class messaging technologies can require significant upfront and on-going investments.
  • Misconception - Many businesses believe that 'good enough' e-mail is sufficient without realizing that business-class messaging does so much more than 'good enough' to enable substantial productivity increases.

This is where Microsoft Exchange business-class messaging can deliver on key goals, enabling businesses to achieve their visions:

  • Shared contact and address lists that all employees can view, share and edit, regardless of location
  • The ability for employees to schedule meetings, events and resources by viewing every other employee's current schedule and commitments
  • Shared folders and document repositories that all employees can access regardless of location Microsoft ActiveSync mobile solutions that enable employees to access mail, calendars, contacts and tasks wherever they are
  • Comprehensive archiving and backup solutions to protect critical business e-mails, contacts and data
  • Advanced anti-spam and antivirus protection to eliminate the annoyance of unwanted e-mails and the risk of downtime

Through Microsoft Solution for Hosted Messaging and Collaboration version 4.5, a hosted business-class messaging solution, service providers can deliver all of the benefits of Microsoft Exchange to small and medium businesses while eliminating the operating challenges. As a hosted solution, end-customers and hosted organizations benefit from:

  • No requirement for technical expertise: All technical complexity of installation and maintenance is handled by service providers.
  • Complete administrative control: Simple tools and utilities enable the least technical end users to configure and administer e-mail, folders and contact lists
  • Zero up-front investment: By avoiding the expenses of purchasing, maintaining and upgrading software and hardware, customers eliminate startup expenses and contract for predictable on-going costs.
  • Enterprise-class security: As a hosted solution, expert technologists are responsible for protecting your messaging environment and data by providing security, antivirus, anti-spam, system updates, data archiving and backup solutions.
  • Guaranteed backup and recovery

Different providers will have different pricing packages that suit various customers. Once you have chosen a provider, you will have a predictable Total Cost of Ownership.

Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 Services

Office Communications Server 2007 is the real-time communication component of the Microsoft Solution for Hosted Messaging and Collaboration version 4.5. It enables end users to communicate via instant messaging, voice/video conferencing, and web conferencing. Besides, end users can also view presence information when using Microsoft Office applications or when using a Microsoft Windows SharePoint® Services team site.

In competing with the free services, Office Communications Server 2007 provides a secure encrypted communications channel that free services do not. This allows organizations to better protect communications from being intercepted and manipulated whilst in transit.

The following table describes Office Communications Server 2007 benefits in more detail.

Benefit Description

Instant messaging (IM)

Office Communications Server 2007 supports real-time point-to-point IM communication.

Group IM

Office Communications Server 2007 supports conversation among three or more parties.

PC-based audio and video conferencing

Office Communications Server 2007 supports multiparty A/V (audio/video) conferencing. Users can specify A/V when scheduling a conference or can add audio or video to an existing IM conversation or conference call.

PC-based Web conferencing

Office Communications Server 2007 provides the ability for users to take part in a Web conference. These conferences can be scheduled or unscheduled, and can include IM, audio, video, slide presentations, application sharing and other forms of data collaboration.

Microsoft RoundTable

Office Communications Server 2007 supports the Microsoft RoundTable communications and archival system, Microsoft's new 360-degree surround audio/video conference-room device, which turns an online meeting into a true face-to-face experience. Attending a video conference by using RoundTable is much the same as attending a meeting in person. The audio and video of your entire conference room is delivered to a remote meeting location for your co-workers to interact in real time.

Service plans

Office Communications Server 2007 Hosting provides a number of features that allows service providers to offer a variety of service depending on customer requirements.

Meeting policy

Office Communications Server 2007 Hosting controls meetings through the use of Meeting Policy objects. A meeting policy object gives the service provider the ability to define items such as audio/video conferencing and web conferencing.

Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services

Hosted Exchange e-mail is the first part of an on ongoing, upscaling solution. Windows Sharepoint Services enables the solution to extend into the realm of Unified Communication & Collaboration. Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services are an integrated portfolio of collaboration and communication services designed to connect people, information, processes, and systems within and beyond an organization.

Although SharePoint Services can be operated from within your business, a hosted solution removes all the requirement of upfront time/money/technical expertise before being able to reap the benefits.

Adding Elements Drives Value

SharePoint server is much more than just document sharing - it provides a rich applications environment complete with development tools and services such as authorization and workflow. Over time, adding key hosted services elements will increase the overall value of the Microsoft solutions being deployed and offered into the market place. As you add more portals, templates, applications & functionality - so you can increment the service charge. Microsoft provide 40 pre-created Intranet Templates which can be altered by the Hosting Company, re-branded, customized, and made to look unique to the Hosting Company across the range of templates - as well as completely 'built from scratch' portal templates. Some service providers are also building relationships with 3rd party sharepoint development partners to create applications that can be hosted to meet the needs of vertical markets, such as healthcare, real estate or finance, to ensure that they can provide differentiated service offerings in the marketplace to drive a sustainable business advantage.