CenterBeam 365+ Takes On Microsoft In Hosted Collaboration Space

The San Jose Calif.-baed company's new CenterBeam 365+ includes hosted Microsoft Office Web Apps, SharePoint, Lync and Exchange.

Benefits of CenterBeam include the MSP's ability to direct bill the client and the fact that you don't have to upgrade to 2010 versions of Microsoft products, said Karen Hayward, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at CenterBeam.

"We've heard a lot of noise in the marketplace about Microsoft (billing the client directly). We allow you to keep that relationship," Hayward said. "We have a come-as-you-are approach. We support Outlook 2003 and any version of Active Directory."

CenterBeam 365+ also keeps 16 features of on-premise Exchange that Microsoft doesn't offer in Exchange Online, according to CenterBeam. Those features include Blackberry appliction push, hierarchical address book. Global address list segmentation, MAPI/CDO access, public folders, third-party add-ins for transport rules, the ability to provision users in multiple data centers, and more, according to Shahin Pirooz, executive vice president of engineering operations and CTO, at CenterBeam.

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"The goal is to deliver the same functionality as an on-premise solution and do it in a cost-effective model, Pirooz said. "We've built a solution as close to on-premise as you can with Sharepoint, Lync, with fractional ownership costs. The way we do that is to think of ourselves as a Fortune 100 company for IT and think about a segmentation of that to many customers." CenterBeam 365+ pricing starts as low as $10 per node for its E1 offering, excluding licenses, Pirooz said.

Hugo Perez, managing director of Datacorp, a Pembroke Pines, Fla.-based VAR, plans to test CenterBeam 365+ with a client soon and believes its flexibility will be a boon to his company.

"The client is interested in going to the cloud for e-mail. The easiest one is Microsoft and Microsoft is a great offering. But [CenterBeam] also offers a little bit of a maturity [path] for my clients. Ultimately, I want to get them full-blown in the cloud, not just e-mail. One of the benefits of CenterBeam is you can use things the customer has today that would break if they go with Microsoft. If you're not on Microsoft for unified communications, that will break. It's a lot easier to get a customer onboard through CenterBeam and their mandates are not as strict as Microsoft."

Also, CenterBeam has additional cloud offerings that can be easily integrated in the future after starting the customer with e-mail, Perez said.

"My customer might ask me for more than I can deliver. I have the ability to mature that client with CenterBeam. It allows me to address key gaps I have today to compete against bigger companies out there," Perez said.