The recent rollout of productivity and collaboration applications directly hosted by Microsoft will be a welcome development for small Canadian businesses, but the services lack the functionality and scale required by larger enterprise.

On Monday, Canada and 17 other countries in Asia and Europe gained acces to Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite. (For the full story and a list of other countries receiving the service, click here)

The subscription price for the suite, which is already available in the U.S., is US$15 per user, per month, and prices overseas will be comparable to this, Microsoft said.

Microsoft appears to be positioning the new service for large companies, as it mentioned that global pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline has signed a multiyear contract for the service for 100,000 desktops. It also mentioned Eddie Bauer and Coca-Cola as other big name clients.

However, Tim Hickernell, senior analyst for Info-Tech Research Group in London, Ont., cautions large Canadian companies that the new service is actually more apt for SMBs looking to do some penny pinching by subscribing to hosted e-mail, archiving and Web filtering apps that will allow them to dodge high upfront costs associated with in-house applications.

“The applications do not have the granularity and scale that large organizations will require,” he said.

Moreover, Hickernell warned, Microsoft appears not prepared (in the near future at least) to deploy data centres in Canada. This could pose a problem to businesses with clients want the data to be housed and managed in local servers, the analyst said.

ITWorld Canada has several white papers covering Microsoft Exchange Server, unified communication and Microsoft application delivery systems.

Check out:

Microsoft® Exchange Server 2007 deployment scenarios for midsize businesses

Enabling Better Decisions Through Unified Access to Information

Keys to Microsoft application acceleration: advances in delivery systems

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Nestor E. Arellano
Toronto-based journalist specializing in technology and business news. Blogs and tweets on the latest tech trends and gadgets.