Having been in my new role for just under two months I feel I have come to understand better what the dedicated offering is and will share for those that may have wondered. I am focusing on Lync as I work in this area but I believe that this could apply to Exchange and to some extent SharePoint as well.
Customers have options for deploying Lync Server 2010. Public descriptions are here - http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?displaylang=en&id=18128
1. On-Premise. This means the customer is deploying the product themselves and deploying the features they have licensed. Today this approach gives the customer the ability to deploy the product to its fullest feature set including interoperability and allows them to control all aspects of the deployment. With control comes maintenance of the hardware and software. The larger the deployment the more skilled your IT staff needs to be.
2. Hosted. This deployment means that someone else is taking on the ownership of having a datacenter, installation of the solution and ongoing monitoring and maintenance. There is a variation of this model where the customer still has the deployment on their premises and the hosting company has been granted the necessary administrative rights to monitor and maintain the solution.
3. BPOS / Office365 – These are the terms used to describe the suite of products one can purchase from Microsoft online. The products included are Exchange, SharePoint and Lync and referred to as Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Lync Online. Customers are able to purchase the products individually or combined as desired. This is the topology people will assume you are speaking of if you simply say Office365 and it is our multiple tenant (multi-tenant) offering.
4. BPOS Dedicated / Office365 Dedicated – This also is the suite of products, Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and Lync Online however the customer is now getting their own hardware for the deployment. They would still share the core infrastructure in this datacenter such as networking equipment, power and the physical property. Customers tend to choose this option because there may be a feature offering available only here due to complexity, regulatory or licensing issues. For example we are currently piloting our voice offering with customers having an on-premise Session Border Controller (SBC), expecting this offering to be available by request of other dedicated customers in 2012.
One difficulty with Office365 Dedicated is that the features for the customer can be limited initially, not currently planned or on a release schedule later than desired. Despite each customer having their own deployment, Dedicated is run in a manner seeking consistency in the offering among all customers to ensure managing all the deployments is smooth and stable. This can be frustrating at times when the customer is seeking a feature or product integration that is ready for customers with their own on-premise deployment but still being investigated, analyzed or tested for dedicated and sometimes may require further work with a vendor to achieve the type of integration required in the Office365 Dedicated topology.
If you have other questions, feedback or comments feel free to use the forms on the page and I will respond appropriately.