- With a flat fee, you reduce up-front costs, especially for the necessary infrastructure, and you can forecast spending accurately based upon the number of users you will place online.
- Updates, service packs, upgrades -- these are not your problem. Microsoft is responsible for handling all your online security patches and maintenance.
- A centralized administration console along with tools released from the Microsoft Online Services team will make it easy to administer your services.
- Users can connect using Outlook, through a browser (including IE6 and later, Firefox, and Safari), and through a mobile device (including Windows Mobile 6, the Nokia E and N series, BlackBerry devices, and even Apple's iPhone with 2.0 firmware).
To provide the infrastructure necessary to support such a huge undertaking, Microsoft has invested a boatload of money to establish data centers that are geographically dispersed. Two "mega" data centers that were revealed last year are located in Chicago and Dublin.
SLA-supported uptime and performance offers a 99.9 percent uptime guarantee, with service credits provided if that percentage is not provided. Disaster recovery and high-availability solutions are built-in, along with real-time antispam and antivirus protection.
BPOS (Business Productivity Online Standard Suite)
This offering combines hosted solutions of Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Office Live Meeting, and Office Communications Online. If you are new business, for $10 per user per month you could have all of these services available immediately without spending a dime on infrastructure or IT personnel to maintain that infrastructure. By the way, you can thank Google for that low price tag. Microsoft has to be price-competitive to avoid an impending Googleopoly -- although Microsoft's offering is double the price of Google's $5 per-user-per-month offer for Google Apps Premier Edition under certain price plans.