Exchange and SharePoint Online

There’s been a fair amount of coverage of the release of Exchange and SharePoint Online over the past few days and it’s been interesting to hear peoples different takes.

Steve Clayton rightly highlights the potential benefits of using a hosted service for applications that could well be considered ‘commodity’ these days.  Shifting costs from Capex to Opex is generally quite an attractive prospect, and if MS can deliver services at a lower cost per user – like-for-like – then more power to them.  These services offer a really good alternative, especially for small or new companies.

The big thing for me is the like-for-like part… the current Online services are pretty basic.  You’re not getting a ‘full fat’ Exchange or Sharepoint here.  There’ll be no MySites or Excel Services in your SharePoint Online environment for example, so while it may be cheaper to host sites in MS clouds, you won’t getting much of the pixie dust (as Steve puts it!).

The interesting thing for me is where Exchange, SharePoint and OCS will be going over the next few years.  As I understand it the current Online solutions aren’t running on the Azure platform.  My guess would be that this is being saved for the products that will start arriving next year.

From what I understand, and I could be wrong, both Exchange and Sharepoint 14 will be offered as both hosted and on-premise solutions.  With Azure in place to manage the infrastructure, Geneva there to manage the nuts and bolts of authentication and identity, and many more ‘full fat’ services available over standard http connections, I’d hope that the v.14 products offer a more full fidelity experience.  Now those are the services I’m interested in.

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