Microsoft committed to web hosting

Commitment to web hosting was the message Microsoft conveyed loud and clear.

That resounded to more than 100 web hosts who attended Hosting Day held on March 1st at Microsoft’s Canadian Headquarters just outside of Toronto, Canada.

“We only make money if you are making more money,” said Michael Weening, Director of the Communications Sector at Microsoft Canada.

“We’re here to show you new ways to make your hosting company grow and more ways to make your businesses more profitable. Within the walls of Microsoft, hosting is always part of the discussion,” Weening emphasized.

To ‘walk the walk’, Microsoft said it has doubled the employee count on its Hosting Solution team to 45 in Redmond, WA and the company has 70 designated members just to work with hosting providers.

That move is warranted if you examine the business opportunity. For example, Hosted Messaging & Collaboration (HMC) alone is a $1.4 billion dollar business. Drilled down, there are 12 million business class mailboxes, 172 million PCs, 667,000 SMBs, 39 million small businesses and 13.5 million Windows mobile devices to be shipped in 2007.

Those numbers convinced Matthew Cassar of Sherbrooke, Quebec. The president of web host, Solutions SherWeb, said, “We’ll be pushing HMC more this year. We’re already a Microsoft partner because there’s no comparable alternative. We do a lot of Linux hosting now but, HMC and SharePoint are interesting growth markets.”

Software as a Service (SaaS) was also big on Microsoft’s agenda. Paul Kaczmarczyk, Manager of Hosting Partners & Solutions, said, “We’re living, breathing and eating SaaS. We’re committed to the hosting partner channel …aligning solutions to partners, showing hosts how to deploy, providing tool sets (as well as) providing sales and marketing information.”

Adding to that was Rob Kent, a SaaS Hosting specialist, who reiterated, “There’s serious traction in the marketplace. The enterprise market were the early adopters up to 2006. SaaS adoption by SMBs will now grow more than the enterprise…we’re at the tipping point.”

A Microsoft survey showed SMBs favored SaaS for a variety of reasons, including the cost factor, use in a variety of locations, reduced demand on IT staff and shorter implementation time.

ITUtility.Net, a Microsoft SaaS partner based in Kanata, Canada, confirmed that the market was heating up.

Marc-Henri Lauzon, the company’s president, said, “Interest in the product is good. We’re concentrating on local markets such as Toronto and Ottawa right now but we see our business expanding Stateside soon.”

Based on the active question and answer sessions and intense discussions that accompanied the event, there’s obviously no non-committal issues lurking on the web hosting front.

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