Microsoft claims state first with Minnesota cloud
Email money saver
Microsoft's crusade to convert earth-bound customers into cloud floaters has landed an army of 30,000 government email and collaboration users in the US state of Minnesota.
The state will stop running its own Exchange email servers for executive-branch communications, and will switch to Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) for hosted Exchange email, SharePoint Collaboration, Live Meeting, and messaging with Office Communication Server.
Microsoft says Minnesota is the first US state to move to a large collaboration and communication suite in a private cloud environment.
The move should help Minnesota save money — the state faces a projected budget gap of $5.8bn.
Microsoft claims an immediate saving of $800,000 in moving to BPOS — presumably in software licenses, server hardware, and support. This will go towards an overall state goal of achieving $3m in cost savings.
Both Microsoft and Minnesota were gung-ho about the news. Minnesota stressed predicted savings and efficiencies from moving online.
Time will tell if this pans out. The supposedly always-on BPOS suffered outages recently, inconveniencing end uses who were unable to get their email. Microsoft apologized, saying the company had fallen short of its quality-of-service aspirations.
Interestingly, BPOS is being phased in through an "discovery" phase lasting three to eight weeks, with Minnesota working with Microsoft to prepare for the switch in every state executive-branch agency.
Microsoft needs to prove that its cloud strategy is working and winning. It has been on the hard sell for BPOS, actually paying partners for each Gmail inbox they rip out in return for installing hosted Exchange.
High-profile and large, flag-carrying accounts like Minnesota fit the bill of proving that Microsoft's services strategy is succeeding. Having a relationship with this existing Exchange customer no doubt helped the deal. It may even have facilitated talks, if Minnesota has started telling suppliers like Microsoft that it can't afford to continue paying them. ®
We've been hosting Exchange and the rest of the Microsoft stack for clients as long as it has existed. The only thing cloudy around BPOS is the billing mechanism and baffle-them-with-bullshit technology oriented sales pitch for what is really a substandard service offering. When you add the wrapper (specifically L2) back in to what they provide, it usually winds up being more expensive to go with BPOS than a traditional outsourcer. That's what we've seen with the bigger clients at least... and assumes that Microsoft isn't giving their licensing away (which is something we've suspected in a few cases).
The sad thing is that most clients don't really understand what they're signing up for until it's too late and financial penalties are involved if they want to back out. Our clients wouldn't let us in the door with the shit T&Cs in BPOS, but everyone runs Microsoft so they can get their foot in the door anywhere... and by the time they're done throwing out this low Low LOW price offering and talking Mississippi and clouds and automated provisioning and pay-by-the-drink most clients think this really is something new and revolutionary where it's really anything but.
Have we met before?
Considering my company builds the hardware Microsoft runs on, the only advantage they have vs. us is that they can give away their licensing. Nothing from an architecture standpoint is different than what we could provide sans their proprietary Mississippi AD replication process. All the rest of their "advantage" is that they are providing cut rate T&Cs in their contract. For example:
1.) My service could be a lot cheaper if we didn't back anything up and just relied on redundancy
2.) My service could be a lot cheaper if we never had to interface with end users
3.) My service could be a lot cheaper if there were an enforceable contract term that *made* the client stay on current technology
4.) My service could be a lot cheaper if my folks could use one login to manage every client
5.) My service could be a lot cheaper were it not for the risk of service restoration SLA's vs. aggregate uptime over a month
6.) My service could be a lot cheaper if we just used VLAN segmentation vs. firewall segmentation
All of those are constraints that our clients put on us when we deliver their service, and I've worked with enough clients migrating to BPOS to know that when the clients start to dig at that level, there is plenty of buyer's remorse going on. The real question is if our clients really need that crap... which is a fair question. They *think* they do, and write their RFQ's with those types of expectations. I find it humorous that they occasionally throw those out the window to go with Microsoft - such is life.
I don't lose sleep over big-bad-Microsoft entering into the market and we're sure as hell not going out of business because our "best buddy" (considering we're probably their biggest client) is peeing in the pool. Our win rate vs. BPOS is just fine TYVM... So why don't you "go away" and keep your comments to discussions that you actually know something about. Obviously you don't understand IT services, or you wouldn't have that smug-ass, ignorant attitude.
The funny part is that you sound like most (all but one in fact) of the Microsoft guys I've worked with on BPOS transitions - no f*cking clue what service delivery is or means. Seriously... have we met before?
Yup.. hosted Exchange
Just what the AC "Old Hat" says. This sounds like hosted Exchange with a bunch of buzzwords and bullshit thrown on.
"and assumes that Microsoft isn't giving their licensing away (which is something we've suspected in a few cases)"
Given away? Hell, read the article, they are PAYING some to switch to them!