Microsoft's Plan To Buy FrontBridge Of Concern To MSPs

“VARs entering this space [by] building out their own infrastructure must realize that now the stakes have been raised dramatically,” said Oli Thordarson, president of Alvaka Networks, Huntington Beach, Calif., which partners with both Microsoft and FrontBridge. “By spending $100 million to build a managed services center in India, and its big purchase of FrontBridge, Microsoft is clearly serious about dominating this space.”

The Redmond, Wash., software giant recently launched Windows OneCare, its all-in-one PC health-care service for consumers and small businesses. It is also pilot-testing a desktop management service.

FrontBridge offers a fully managed service for e-mail archiving, spam filtering, virus scanning, encrypted e-mail, policy enforcement and disaster recovery. It competes against e-mail security service providers Postini, Redwood City, Calif., and MessageLabs, of the United Kingdom.

Microsoft maintains the service will be widely available through its channel. “I see it more of a benefit from a product perspective than as a threat to the managed services side because it fills some product gaps Microsoft had, especially in the e-mail archiving space,” said Stephen Moss, COO of NSPI, a Microsoft partner in Roswell, Ga. “We don&'t like Postini because—while it is a great product—we had problems migrating folks from Notes to Exchange.”

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Postini&'s founder countered that some FrontBridge partners have already contacted Postini because they don&'t trust Microsoft&'s record in security and have concerns about the terms Microsoft will impose on distribution and reseller partners.

“That&'s the $64,000 question—how it will impact Microsoft&'s channel,” said Scott Petry, founder and senior vice president at Postini. “It&'s not clear what role the channel will have for these guys.”