CenterBeam takes on Microsoft with cloud collaboration suite

The big hook for CenterBeam's new service is that organizations don't necessarily have to ditch all their existing, on-premise Exchange or Microsoft Office infrastructure.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor

it isn't all that hard to figure out the primary competition for the new CenterBeam 365+ cloud-based collaboration platform: CenterBeam's marketing materials offer a detailed comparison between its new offering and the Microsoft Office 365 platform.

The company's main message is that CenterBeam 365+ users won't have to give up the Microsoft productivity applications with which they are familiar because their cloud collaboration service doesn't require companies to upgrade all their underlying Microsoft applications.

Said CenterBeam president and CEO Kevin Francis: "Building on our experience as the first company to offer multi-tenant hosted Exchange in 1999, we saw a unique opportunity to meet a real need; giving mid-market enterprises the flexibility, economics and access of the could but with the look, functionality and high-level security of on-premise Exchange."

CenterBeam 365+ includes Microsoft Office Web Apps, Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft Lync and Microsoft Exchange. The big hook being pushed by the service provider is that companies can also integrate existing infrastructure and applications without having to ditch everything for the cloud version.

For example, CenterBeam 365+ supports PST files, it supports Outlook 2003 and it offers single sign-on for any version of Active Directory, not just ADFS 2.0. In effect, CenterBeam takes Microsoft Office 365 and does the integration that your organization might otherwise have had to do in order to get the serivice integrated into an existing infrastructure, just so.

Said William Santille, vice president of technology and CTO for Advanced Equities, one of the CenterBeam 365+ cloud service's earlier users:

"We wanted to maintain our preferences and high level of security but move to a cloud-based solution that delivers the flexibility we need in the most affordable way possible. We chose CenterBeam 365+ because it enables us to continue providing our employees with the Microsoft tools they are comfortable with, yet we do not have to sacrifice on functionality, control, support and most importantly, security, as we move to the cloud."

CenterBeam, an IT services company with 185 employees, has a long history in hosted Microsoft solutions. It has been migrating businesses into the cloud since 1999 through a series of major Microsoft upgrade cycles, including 2003, 2007 and 2010. The sweet spot of CenterBeam's target customer base is midsize organizations with 100 to 4,000 computers to support.

Here's what each level of service for CenterBeam 365+ provides:

CenterBeam 365 E1 - $10 per month per user (Exchange Plan 1, SharePoint Plan 1, Lync Plan 2)

  • E-mail/Antivirus/Antispam/Calendaring
  • Collaboration Portal
  • Conferencing
  • Instant Message/Presence
  • 25 gigabytes per user
  • ActiveSync

CenterBeam 365 E2 - $16 per month per user (Exchange Plan 1, SharePoint Plan 1, Lync Plan 2, Office Web Apps)
All features of basic package, plus:

  • Office Web Apps

CenterBeam 365 E3 - $21 per month per user (Exchange Plan 2, SharePoint Plan 2, Lync Plan 2, Office Web Apps)
All features of basic package, plus:

  • Office Web Apps
  • Forms, Visio, Excel Services
  • Voicemail and advance archive features

CenterBeam hosts its cloud offerings in a Tier 3 Class A data center that offers triple redundancy. It works with CenturyLink (formerly Qwest Communications); both are SAS-70, Type II certified.

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