What is(are) Microsoft Online Services? And what is BPOS?

Microsoft Online Services is the hosted service offering by Microsoft. You can label this as SaaS (Software as a Service), but Microsoft actually seems to prefer S+S (Software plus Services). However you slice it, Microsoft is offering their products in several distinct flavors.

First, you can get Microsoft’s server-based products on-premise. This means that you host it yourself (either in your building, your data center, or at a co-location facility). This is the ‘traditional’ model that most of use every day. The on-premise model represents nearly 100% of the solutions that I’ve architected over the past 15 years. There have been a few exceptions to this rule (such as multi-tenant applications), but even in these rare cases the overall architecture was on-premise based.

Second, you can get their server-based products hosted by third-party companies. For SharePoint and Exchange and nearly any other product, third-party companies have been providing a hosted, SaaS, ASP-type solutions for years. I’ve used a few of these products in the past for a variety of clients with some success.

Finally, you can get Microsoft server-based products hosted by Microsoft. This is the Microsoft Online Services offering. This is new. This is ‘in the cloud’. This will change how we work with Microsoft.

Microsoft Online Services are available in two varieties today: Standard and Dedicated. The Microsoft Online Services Standard offering is a multi-tenant architecture. This is the perfect environment for many small and medium organizations. The MOS Standard offering offers fast deployment and configuration with no limit to the number of users (seats). The Microsoft Online Services Dedicated offering is not just a clever name; it is a Dedicated environment. Dedicated hardware, dedicated architecture, for businesses needing more than 5,000 seats. For the purposes of this discussion, I’m going to focus on the Microsoft Online Services Standard offering.

Microsoft Online Services Standard is currently in Beta and expected to be formally launched in October 2008. The Standard offering includes Microsoft Exchange Online, Microsoft Office SharePoint Online, Microsoft Office Communications Online, and Microsoft Office Live Meeting. Each of these services can be purchased independently for a small monthly fee per user (per seat). There are also a couple of options with the Microsoft Exchange Online and the Microsoft Office SharePoint Online.

Exchange Online is offered as Exchange Online Standard and Exchange Online Deskless Worker. Both versions of Exchange Online are protected by (surprise!) Microsoft ForeFront and anti-virus and anti-spam filters. Exchange Online Deskless worker includes email, calendar, address lists, and is available only through Outlook Web Access (OWA). Exchange Online Standard includes both desktop and mobile support, offers Outlook Web Access, but also includes full Microsoft Outlook 2007 integration (this does not include Outlook 2007 license).

Microsoft Office SharePoint Online is also available as both SharePoint Online Standard and as SharePoint Online Deskless Worker. The SharePoint Online Deskless Worker includes access to the online portal, team sites, and the search. However, the SharePoint Deskless Worker does not include collaboration. This is basically a ‘read-only’ view into the SharePoint Online environment. SharePoint Online Standard includes Portals, collaboration, search and customized team sites. I would like to point out that this is NOT Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) but this is indeed MOSS Standard (minus a few items). This means that you do get things such as the Publishing features and much more!

BPOS, or the Business Productivity Online Suite (rolls right off the tongue), is a ‘package’ of the four core offerings in today’s Online Services. A BPOS seat gets you Exchange Online Standard, SharePoint Online Standard, Office Communications Online, and Live Meeting Standard. The Deskless Worker Suite is both the Exchange Online Deskless Worker and the SharePoint Online Deskless Worker offered as one per seat cost.

So, what does all of this actually cost? The good news is that it is cheap and that there are no setup fees.

Exchange Online Deskless Worker Seat per month: $2.00
SharePoint Online Deskless Worker Seat per month: $2.00
Deskless Worker Suite per month: $3.00

Exchange Online Standard Seat per month: $10.00
SharePoint Online Standard Seat per month: $7.25
Office Communications Online Standard Seat per month: $2.50
Office Live Meeting Seat per month: $4.50

BPOS Seat per month: $15.00 (38% discount)

By John Stover

John Stover Bio.

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