CHICAGO — July 23, 2007 — Through its presence at HostingCon 2007 this week, Microsoft Corp. will announce its comprehensive strategy for enabling hosting providers to be successful in the world of software plus services. The strategy includes providing the next-generation hosting platform, delivering applications ready for hosting, and driving growth through tight integration with Microsoft's extensive partner ecosystem. At the show, Microsoft will demonstrate recent additions and updates to its core platform technologies and applications for the hosting industry that enable service providers to offer a compelling next-generation end-user experience for their customers. Microsoft will highlight new development tools and applications to hosting providers for the first time, detail the initial successes of its Internet Information Services 7.0 (IIS7) Go Live license program for Microsoft® IIS7 beta, and announce that cPanel Inc. has introduced a Windows® version of its control panel. With these enhancements, hosting providers are well positioned to play an important role in the software plus services ecosystem by partnering with Microsoft.
"The adoption of software plus services has presented many new possibilities for the hosting industry to evolve and grow. There is a tremendous opportunity through the emergence of the Web as a business and consumer platform, but it also introduces potential challenges for hosting providers as the industry undergoes this transformation," said John Zanni, managing director of Worldwide Hosting in the Communications Sector at Microsoft. "The hosting providers that will succeed are those that understand the software plus services opportunity and recognize how to leverage their expertise to offer compelling new services to customers. Our goal at Microsoft is to provide the technology, both our own and through our vast partner network, that will enable hosting providers to continue to successfully deliver a broad range of services."
In addition to providing technical resources, Microsoft is establishing profitability models for hosting partners that reach beyond the scope of traditional hosting, giving way to expanded business opportunities. Ranging from hosting to advertising to design and developing, among others, these models significantly expand the potential of hosting providers. Furthermore, a strong emphasis is being placed on creating relationships between hosting providers and value-added resellers (VARs), which enable them to grow their business.
The next generation of hosting will take advantage of existing infrastructure assets while adding capabilities to offer new services. Microsoft offers the core platform, applications, independent software vendor (ISV) relationships, development tools and Web assets that hosting providers need to transition into this new era.
Providing Next-Generation Platform Technologies
Platform technologies have always been an important competency, particularly for hosting providers that have mastered the core requirements for security, scalability and reliability. With the upcoming launch of Microsoft Windows Server® 2008 with IIS7, Microsoft will offer significant enhancements to these capabilities over previous versions of the platform. Focused on delivering a low total cost of ownership (TCO) for its server products, Microsoft has developed key features such as integrated health management for Web services, optimized PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor application hosting on Windows, a fast and scalable configuration system, and delegated administration.
In the next-generation hosting environment, TCO will continue to be a major consideration, but hosting providers will need to offer new services cost-effectively to be competitive players in the market. With the Windows hosting platform, service providers can gain the advantage they need to be successful.
As part of the IIS7 Go Live license program, hosting providers can test drive the new functionality, which will be integrated into Windows Server 2008. Microsoft has already seen a number of hosting providers sign up for the program, including Applied Innovations Corp., DiscountASP.net, HostMySite.com, MaximumASP LLC and WebFusion.
"As a Microsoft Certified Partner, we were able to participate in the IIS7 beta program, which has given us the opportunity to experience firsthand the considerable improvements in its reliability and flexibility," said Lou Honick, CEO of HostMySite.com. "IIS7 will benefit our business by substantially improving server performance. So far, we have received tremendous positive feedback from our beta clients, and we look forward to rolling it out for all our Windows hosting clients."
Delivering Hosting-Ready Applications
Identifying and deploying new services is the critical next step for most hosting providers. Microsoft provides a suite of applications such as Microsoft CRM, Microsoft Exchange Server and the 40 off-the-shelf applications included within Windows SharePoint® Services that can be easily converted into revenue-generating services. Microsoft also has announced several programs, including the SaaS Incubation Center Program and the SaaS On-Ramp Program, aimed at helping ISVs adopt the Software-as-a-Service delivery model with business and technical guidance from an established hosting channel, and discounted licensing.
In addition to connecting with ISVs, the next-generation model emphasizes stronger relationships between hosting providers and VARs. For hosting providers such as groupSPARK, partnering with VARs enables them to grow their business, while providing resellers with a platform to offer hosted Microsoft Exchange services through a completely private-labeled solution. Today Microsoft announced that cPanel, the leading Web hosting control panel software provider, will release its first Windows Server 2008-based product line in beta later this year. Traditionally a Linux- and FreeBSD-based supplier of hosting automation tools, cPanel is collaborating with Microsoft to provide its customers with a greater choice in platform selection with IIS7.
"Microsoft has shown a strong commitment to the hosting industry over the past several years" said J. Nick Koston, CEO of cPanel. "cPanel's Windows development team feels that IIS7 offers a robust, high-performance Web server with increased security that the industry will quickly adopt. Microsoft Server 2008 and IIS7 with its modern architecture and support for legacy products was the natural starting point for our expanded product offering."
Using the solutions Microsoft provides for hosters, such as Microsoft Solution for Hosted Messaging and Collaboration, service providers, including Apptix and groupSPARK, are able to reach new levels of operational efficiency by optimizing hardware and networking resources as well as features that help make administrators more productive.
Enabling a Compelling End-User Experience
The tremendous amount of content being created for the Web has opened up new opportunities for hosting providers to act as a one-stop shop for Web agencies and content producers. Microsoft will demonstrate at HostingCon its latest development tools and Web assets, including Expression® Web, Microsoft Silverlight™ and Virtual Earth™. Microsoft is helping developers and designers create cutting-edge Web sites and applications, and is driving demand for hosting providers with strong expertise with Windows.
Microsoft Honors Distinguished Partners Through New Competency Program and Award
Microsoft recently announced Rackspace US Inc. as the winner of its Hosting Solutions Partner of the Year award for Advanced Infrastructure Solutions. The award recognizes partners that have demonstrated solution innovation and a commitment to engaging with Microsoft. Rackspace was chosen as this year's winner because it exemplifies the key qualities Microsoft looks for in a hosting partner, such as constantly raising the bar on innovation and expanding into new markets.
As part of its continuing efforts to provide hosting providers with a full complement of industry-specific skills, Microsoft announced at its Worldwide Partner Conference this month that Hosting Solutions will become a full competency in the Microsoft Partner Program. As part of the program, Microsoft is helping to ensure that partners receive the benefits, tools, information and business opportunities that are most valuable to them.
Additional Microsoft Activities at HostingCon
Microsoft will also share its vision for the hosting industry through participation in the following speaking sessions and panels:
Monday, July 23, 11:15 a.m. "IIS 7.0 Preview: Architectural & Performance Enhancements for Hosters," Michael Joffe, product manager for Windows-based Hosting, Microsoft
Wednesday, July 25, 8:30 a.m. "Delivering Applications With Windows SharePoint Services," Hyder Ali, industry manager, Communications Sector, Microsoft
Attendees can obtain additional information by visiting Microsoft Booth 309 at HostingCon.