OK, so I exaggerate a little with my subject but the reality is that Microsoft has worked really hard to make it easy. Why? Some will say so they can steal the revenue that we were charging our customers to manage Exchange and give us a measly 6% as part of their strategy to own OUR customers once and for all and cut us out. DIRTY ROTTEN SUNKEN DITCHES!!!
Truthfully, I don’t see it that way (Is it OK if we see things differently?). What I see is a company that is keeping it’s eye on the enemy. The enemy is customer demand for services that they are unable to provide because they are too worried about loyalty to partners, politics or the enemies of yesterday. Tom Peters would call the continued practice of ignoring the competition of today for the sake of yesterday’s way of doing business “Paving the Cow Paths”. How you see the new SaaS strategy is completely based on how where you sit and how believe MS should run their business. They have a loyalty first to the customers, the shareholder, then maybe us, if we still fit in the value proposition that will keep MS software consumers MS software consumers.
Don’t like it? Change your attitude or change your partnerships but the harsh reality is that business as we know it is chainging. Perhaps the greatest skill you can learn right now is not how to sell what you have today (that is important) but how to build process, systems, relationships, brand and culture that will enable you to quickly (almost clairvoyantly), adapt and execute on the opportunities of tomorrows . Getting stuck in the past is for companies of the past. As Vlad so much appreciated, I must again share the quote from Tom Peters book Re-imagine that we both like so much. It was actually General Shinseki that said,
“If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.”
I’m sorry if you disagree with me but the success of my business is not going to be based on inability of Microsoft to put me above themselves. As an MSP I’m constantly re-inventing my processes and business model. Almost monthly! (Download Chapter 2 from Tom Peters book here where he discusses the importance of destroying and starting over on a regular basis. Totally worth the 15 minutes to read.) I’m in the risk management business! I take risk in exchange for money from my customers, I determine how successful I am at profitably managing that risk, and then I either give it back, keep it, or pay someone else to take that risk from me. Then, I go after more risk.
(Graph courtesy of Service Leadership Institute 2009)
To me Microsoft Exchange is the biggest risk in a customer’s LAN (unless they have CRM) that I can absorb and it may just be worth my time (money) or make more sense (money) for me to share that risk with a more qualified provider that has more customers to share the risk with. Does that make sense? If not, you probably don’t understand health insurance (bad example I know but a real one).
I get what Microsoft is doing and I’ve got two choices; either accept and work with it to make it win, win, win (MS, customer and myself) or disagree with it, take my customer (the ball) and go find another game. I’m afraid all the kids play rough in this league so the latter is not really an option for me.
Susan Bradley sent me the link to the latest set of instructions for moving customers off of local SBS 2008 Exchange 2007 to hosted Exchange 2007 and I’ve posted them below. Before you read them I would point out the three things I see missing and possibly as or more important are:
- Where is the Client Desktop Backup Solution?
- Where server data backup to cloud solution (Live)?
- Where is the $ credit customers get when purchasing hosted exchange accounts after already purchasing SBS 2008 CALS?
If you decide to use Exchange Online instead of a local installation of Exchange Server immediately after installing Windows SBS 2008, complete the following steps:
- Sign up for an account on Microsoft Online Services.
- Add the domain for your organization to Microsoft Online Services.
- Disable local Exchange Server mailboxes.
- Remove the offline address book from the Public Folder Database.
- Remove the Public Folder Databases.
- Uninstall Exchange Server.
- Install and configure the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol service.
If you decide to use Exchange Online, you are already using a local installation of Exchange Server, and you have existing e-mail that you want to migrate, complete the following steps:
- Sign up for an account on Microsoft Online Services
- Establish e-mail coexistence between your server and Microsoft Online Services
- Migrate existing mailboxes
- Delete the local Exchange Server mailboxes
- Remove the offline address book from the Public Folder Database
- Remove the Public Folder Databases
- Remove the Send connector
- Reroute incoming e-mail from your server to Exchange Online
- Uninstall Exchange Server
- Install and configure the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol service
- Change the e-mail addresses for domain accounts and reports