With Microsoft's Office Live open for business, its shadow looms large over other hosted collaboration and e-mail services for small businesses. Many of these hosting partners had been recruited by Microsoft to offer SharePoint- and Exchange Server-based offerings. But now that Microsoft is hosting its own low-cost collaboration, Web page creation and e-mail service, what are they supposed to do? "Forge ahead," seems to be the operative response.
Asked why a VAR or carrier targeting the SMB segment should go with an Office Live alternative, companies like SMBLive and InfoStreet are ready with an answer: They are more channel-friendly and feature rich than Microsoft's nascent service. "Office Live is at heart a direct play [and] not currently available for redistribution through the channel," said Matt Howard, CEO of SMBLive, a Rockville, Md.-based e-mail and collaboration hosting specialist.