Australia's third-largest internet service provider (ISP), iiNet, has moved into hosted email services, offering Hosted Exchange to small and medium businesses in partnership with Microsoft.
iiNet is deploying Exchange servers in its Melbourne datacentre, and is offering two different types of packages for small and medium businesses to host their mail using their own domain name with iiNet. The AU$2.95 per inbox per month package comes with 3GB of storage, IMAP and POP support, and web access. The AU$6.95 per inbox per month package comes with 25GB of storage and also includes email, calendars, contact sync, and push notifications for mobiles.
iiNet's chief business officer Greg Bader said iiNet has gone down the path of Hosted Exchange to bring an enterprise product "to the smaller guys" in the small business market.
"It's not really a product that the smaller end of the business community has had access to," he said. "A lot of these products come out from what our small business customers are asking for."
The company opted for Microsoft because it was what most small businesses were used to running, he said.
"Microsoft still, to this day, has such a dominant share of the market. The product suits itself perfectly for people running a Microsoft desktop, but also for people just running a web browser," Bader said.
"It's just easy, and Microsoft has proven to be a great partner to work with. We see this as a start, not a single product. We would like to evolve with this over time right through to voice and video."
Telstra has an exclusivity agreement signed with Microsoft to prevent iiNet from being able to offer the fully hosted Office 365 package. While iiNet would welcome being able to offer Office 365, Bader said that the Hosted Exchange service would suit customers who were concerned that Office 365 data was hosted in Singapore, and not Australia.
"Some of our small business customers were telling us there were concerns about the Office 365 solutions being hosted out of Singapore and backed up in Hong Kong," he said.
"Whether that's real or imaginary, it was something they felt was important for them."
While Telstra and iiNet have picked Microsoft for their email services, Optus has opted for Google.