Ceryx lands LePage for Microsoft

Ceryx put another arrow in its quiver by signing Royal LePage to its Hosted Microsoft Exchange service for the realtor’s 12,000 sales representatives. Other big wins in the past year have been with Rogers and Allstate Canada.

The story isn’t just in the choice of a hosted solution, but that Ceryx pulled LePage off another provider for anti-spam and anti-virus, and that it migrated 80 Royal LePage employees at headquarters onto an Exchange-based service for mobile device integration.

Mark Kaminski, CTO for Environics Analytics, sees the attraction as the price point. “The reality is that for a company of any size, bringing Exchange Server in-house means three or more people to manage it,” he said. “The loaded costs per employee are pushing $100,000 a piece, so you’re out the gate spending $300,000 a year.”

However, Ceryx is pushing less on pricing than the added value of its geographically redundant infrastructure and proprietary anti-spam and anti-virus capabilities.

This means that Bryan Rusche, unified communications product manager for Microsoft Canada, is put in the awkward position of promoting Microsoft Hosted Exchange’s built-in security, while agreeing that important partners like Cyrix can add value. “Cyrix has developed anti-virus and anti-spam on top of Microsoft,” says Rusche, “and this can be how the customer chooses to purchase it.”

For Kaminski, the extra layer makes sense and allows for companies with unique capabilities to play in their own space. “Anybody that is getting e-mail these days is getting spam problems,” he says, “and the solution that Ceryx offers is better by definition. It’s what they specialize in.”

LePage itself represents a distributed business model in that the agents are financially responsible for enhanced service levels. Beginning with an “Ultra Lite” version of Exchange, agents can then opt for full collaboration or tighter integration with Blackberry and ActiveSync smart phones.

“Integrated BlackBerry service has improved over past 18 months,” says Kaminski, “and Ceryx is leveraging off of this. That’s something else you wouldn’t want to do in-house.”

f it all makes so much sense, then why doesn’t everyone choose Hosted Exchange? “We are dealing with legacy resistance here,” says Kaminski. Rusche agrees, “We see a very strong move toward hosting and SaaS (software as a service),” he says, “and the tipping point is the sophistication of the IT department. The more they have invested in IT resources and staff, the likely they are to keep it on-premise.”

Much of the growth is coming from the SMB and mid-market, where there is demand for enterprise class e-mail for small-seat environments. Hosted Exchange can be purchased on a per-user and per-use basis, as can its filtering service. Kaminski raises one modest concern: performance. “By definition, the further anything gets from your computer, the slower it gets,” he says.

That might not be such an issue with straight e-mail and messaging, but could cause some latency for those organizations that regularly move large file attachments great distances.

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