Low Cost Replacement for Microsoft Outlook and Exchange Server
Gen-9 Introduces 'StratoVista – Google Edition v1.0'
A Desktop Client That Uses Google Web Services as an “Exchange Server”
Mountain View California start-up Gen-9 has just released a product that introduces a new “client/server” model designed to displace Microsoft's flagship Outlook/Exchange Server pair in the small enterprise. Gen-9 integrated StratoVista, which replaces Outlook functions, and Google's suite of Web Services, which replaces Outlook Exchange Server functions. The StratoVista/Google combination promises to deliver more power and flexibility to enterprise users for 90% less cost than the Microsoft Outlook/Exchange Server products.
For years users have been debating if there will ever be a viable, low cost, alternative to Microsoft's 'dynamic duo' Outlook and Exchange Server products. Lowering operating costs is always welcomed by the small business operator. But in today's economy, it could make the difference between life and death. So, there probably couldn't be a better time to introduce a product that could save enterprise customers thousands of dollars each year in IT costs.
When fully factoring in the total cost of installation and maintenance, Outlook/Exchange Server probably represents the single largest IT cost for most small businesses. But unlike other essential IT resources users have had little in the way of options to replace it. With office suite products such as Microsoft Office, for example, low cost and even free alternatives exist. Open Office is one example of a viable free Office replacement. But until now, no similar alternative existed for Outlook/Exchange Server.
So, for more then a decade Outlook has dominated the personal information management (PIM) space. Some low cost products have been introduced that partially filled the bill of replacing it, but ultimately they've all have come up short when it comes to features, data compatibility and/or collaboration capability. For example, Mozilla's Thunderbird provides a solid alternative for users interested in basic email functionality. But Thunderbird lacks many of the crucial PIM features, such as appointments, note taking, and the ability to manage data other than email. It also doesn't provide the collaboration capabilities that Outlook provides when paired with Exchange Server. But Thunderbird does have one major advantage – it's free!
It's difficult to overstate the advantage of low cost (or in this case, no cost) when your target market is the consumer. But within the enterprise, even in difficult economic times, functionality is still king. This same rule applies to the more recent Web service alternatives. Google, for example, offers an excellent suite of free tools that are capable of performing many of the functions provided by Outlook and Exchange Server. Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Docs represent just some of the growing number of Web services competing for Outlook users. Google's basic service, which includes over 7GB of email storage per user, is free. Google also provides a premium version, with 25GB storage, for a small monthly cost. The centralized nature of these services eliminates the substantial cost of installation, maintenance and upgrades associated with an in-house server running Exchange Server or Domino. They also offer the additional advantage of being easily accessible from almost any device with a browser and an Internet connection.
While these products are potentially very attractive to the enterprise user, they are struggling to gain acceptance in the enterprise. So what's not to like about these new Web services as a replacement for Outlook/Exchange Server? Here are a few things:
And this is where StratoVista comes into the picture. It was designed to compliment the strengths of Web delivered services while filling in these weaknesses. StratoVista provides a single user interface to sign-up, sign-on and provide a single look and feel front-end for Web services. Since StratoVista runs locally, and has a robust local database, it retains most of its functionality even when an Internet connection is not available. As a desktop application it provides the user with a suite of powerful data management features, which run crisply like only a local application can. And finally, if the user decides to use other Web services in the future (and Gen-9 plans to continually add new API's to other Web services beyond those offered by Google) they'll be able to do so immediately with a few clicks of their mouse without any concern about data ownership or transportability.
So how much can the StratoVista/Google Web Services solution save a small enterprise? Let’s look at an example that illustrates the relative costs of a StratoVista/Web Services solution verses a Microsoft/Exchange Server solution. Setting up the Microsoft solution involves a complex and variable pricing model that includes a variety of costs (hardware, software, installation and maintenance) resulting in an average recurring monthly cost of approximately $30 - or $360 dollars per seat per year (using a three year cost structure). For example, an in-house Microsoft Outlook/Exchange installation for 100 seats, over three years, would include the following costs:
This would result in a total 3-year cost of $174,900 or approximately $49.00/seat/month. The alternative? Assuming a one-time license purchase price for StratoVista of $50 per seat, the three year monthly cost is $1.40 seat/month. Google’s Standard Edition service is free and provides all of the necessary server-side capabilities and over 7 GB (and growing) per seat of storage. The Google Premier Edition provides the same services, as well as other premium services, and 25 GB per seat of storage. It costs $4.17/month/seat. So using a solution that includes StratoVista coupled with Google Services, provides superior functionality and at a much lower cost/seat/month between $1.40 - $5.57/month/seat verses an Outlook/Exchange Server solution that costs $49.00/month/seat. In other words StratoVista – Google Edition v1.0 is a better solution that is between 88% and 97% less expensive then an Outlook/Exchange solution.
Furthermore, this comparison does not include the value of the StratoVista/Google solution’s nearly instant and limitless scalability. Keep in mind also that StratoVista is not just limited to the server functionality provided by the Google family of Web Services. StratoVista will continue to build value by including integration with the growing number of sites participating in the Open API Project.
Since StratoVista is a rich client, it is also capable of providing very powerful capabilities not found in a browser or in the Web Service. For example, for most people the biggest Internet information challenge is managing their email. While email has been, and continues to be, one of the most important means of communicating and collaborating, it has also become one of the primary playground of the unscrupulous and malicious. Email users are constantly struggling with an ever-increasing tide of junk email that’s useless and sometimes harmful.
StratoVista was built from the ground up with this problem in mind. Multiple layers of tools enable users to eliminate spam and get their inbox under control with such powerful features as the:
StratoVista provides all of these and other functions in one powerful, easy to use, rich client. And at the same time it couples its capabilities with an ever-growing suite of powerful Web Services.
In conclusion, StratoVista – Google Edition v1.0 represents a new, low cost option for small enterprises that are interested in implementing an integrated client/server PIM solution that incorporates the best components of the desktop with the new, powerful Web services being provided by a growing number of vendors like Google. For more information go to: