Over the last year, I have shifted my focus to “The Cloud”. It started in January 2009 when I was asked to run an Architectural Design Session for a large company in Northern California. My part of the session was about domain consolidation and infrastructure optimization. The more exciting part of the session was done by one of our BPOS Solution Architects, and was a proposal to move the customer to BPOS. I was hooked on BPOS as soon as I heard the pitch, having helped hosting customers deploy HMC (Hosted Messaging and Collaboration) over the last 10 years.
Wait, what is BPOS? BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite) aka Microsoft Online is Microsoft’s infrastructure in the cloud which currently includes Exchange, SharePoint, OCS and LiveMeeting. Customers pay a monthly fee directly to Microsoft based on the number of users which covers their server licenses and operational costs. If you do that math, Microsoft can run the service more efficiently than most companies can run their own services. For those of you already calculating operating expenses in your head, remember to throw in:
- Personnel salaries
- Hardware cost
- Software license costs
- Real Estate
- Support Agreements
- Upgrade to next version costs
A couple other things to consider is that if you are a large company, you most likely have a multi year Enterprise Agreement that doesn’t allow your licensing costs ever go down if your user population goes down. You will need to bump up your connection to the Internet or Microsoft datacenters since your services are now hosted “in the cloud”. Lastly, does your company deliver 99.9% uptime? BPOS has a 99.9% financially backed SLA through both High Availability and Disaster Recovery.
BPOS has a long, mature history. It is based on HMC which was first officially release around 2003. Before that, it was called MCIS (Microsoft Commercial Internet Server) which was deployed in the late 1990’s. Microsoft discontinued the availability of MCIS in 2001, and we helped some really large hosters migrate off MCIS’ Windows NT/Site Server/Exchange 5.5 base to what some would consider the first version of HMC which was Windows 2000/Exchange 2000 based. HMC has been used over the last 7 years to bend Windows and Exchange into hosting multiple companies (tenants) on the same infrastructure, it was never supported directly through support but by a special team.
BPOS changes everything. The products are designed to be hosted, multi-tenant, and have real support from the product teams and the support organization behind them! In addition, Microsoft allows customers to have hybrid deployments were some users might be in the cloud, while some are still on-premise. BPOS has been in use by small and large customers for over 2 years, so we aren’t new at this by any means.
I am part of a new team that helps customers get ready to move and migrate to the cloud, we call it Microsoft Online Provisioning or Microsoft Premier Provisioning. I hope to use this blog space to highlight some of the more interesting things we find along the way. It is like a consulting engagement but moves about 10 times as fast, and is a constant roller coaster ride. I love it.