8x8 Simplifies Entry Into Cloud Computing For SMBs

8x8’s new Windows Cloud Server hosting solution has a variety of features, including a streamlined user interface that makes it easy to purchase, configure, and manage via an online portal. It’s affordable, too, since end users can elect to pay either 12 cents per hour or $49 for 1,000 MHz of RAM per month, with no set up fees or contracts.

It’s the ease of use that differentiates 8x8’s new offering from others on the market, said Matt Hutchinson, director of channel marketing at 8x8.

“There are other [service providers offering cloud hosting], but I think we are the only ones doing this in this very simple and clean way that’s Linux and Windows based,” he said.

Hutchinson said the solution will appeal to mid-market data VARs who can now plug into 8x8’s data center in order to provide clients with a simple and clean cloud hosting solution, while taking advantage of 8x8’s unique Authorized Reseller Program , in which VARs can enjoy both upfront and residual revenues.

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“That’s what makes our program so unique. It’s constructed so that they still receive that upfront bounty by selling hardware or software from a licensing or hardware transaction, but then they also get that recurring revenue every month, which will help smooth out their cash flow,” said Hutchinson.

The new Windows-based cloud offering rounds out the Sunnyvale-Calif.-based 8x8’s cloud portfolio, and moves the service provider closer to its goal of becoming a one-stop-shop for both communications and computing cloud solutions, according to Joan Citelli, 8x8’s director of corporate communications.

The new hosting solution expands on a hosted cloud service that was previously available only for Linux systems. 8x8 picked up the Linux-based cloud server capabilities last June with its acquisition of Littleton, Colo.-based Zerigo , a specialist in virtual private services, and managed DNS. The Windows-based platform will meet the needs of 90-plus percent of businesses, Citelli said.

Because it’s so easy to set up and manage, Don Tremble, 8x8’s vice president of channel sales said the new offering could be considered a “gateway to the cloud” for SMBs. In the SMB space, the transition to the cloud often starts by moving to the data center. And as servers and storage become more expensive to deploy and difficult to maintain, the flexibility offered by 8x8’s Windows-based hosting service will be an attractive option for businesses currently operating on-premise systems.

“I look at managed hosting and public cloud offerings as a door opener for data VARs who are selling server storage today and potentially losing to cloud solutions provided by Rackspace or Terremark that would sell directly to their customers and cut them out the equation,” said Don Tremble, 8x8’s vice president of Channel Sales.

And as SMBs get accustomed to the hosted server offering, VARs will be able to layer some of 8x8 cloud-based communications offerings on top, said Tremble.

“We’re going to position [the Windows Cloud Server] as a lead-in and later [VARs] can offer up unified communications services, as well,” he said.

But don’t expect 8x8 to stop with this vending machine approach to cloud hosting. 8x8 has been rapidly adding to its cloud offerings this year, and the new hosted server solution is yet another arrow in 8x8’s ever-expanding quiver of over 20 cloud-based services, including VoIP, conferencing, video, and cloud computing. 8x8 made another strategic acquisition in September, when it scooped up Contactual, adding call center services to its arsenal .