By Edward F. Moltzen
Cloud computing-based collaboration suites range from those that are free and limited to those that are expensive and robust.
HyperOffice provides a low-cost collaboration suite, built in the cloud, that offers strong functionality, nice reliability and a strong example of the possibilities of team-based productivity from anywhere.
The CRN Test Center examined the HyperOffice Collaboration Suite at the invitation of company executives – examining the solution through a free, online trial. It was great to see a full-function solution available to try, for free, immediately without the aggravating and time-demanding step of first waiting for a direct sales rep to telephone and make a hard sales pitch.
HyperOffice provides many basic productivity and communication tools: email, calendaring, task creation and tracking, and contact management. While these functions work well, they are far from out of the ordinary. But HyperOffice doesn’t stop there. It delivers value in how it turns personal productivity into team productivity.
HyperOffice provides ultra-easy sharing and collaboration functions for each aspect of its suite, turning its browser-based console into a collaboration command center. Here are some examples of what we liked:
•The suite provides an administrator with an intuitive, easy-to-use console for adding or deleting members, and managing their access to content and data;
•Tools, including wiki and intranet page creation and management, are dead-on simple but effective;
•HyperOffice did the heavy lifting with intranet-page creation tools for each member in a group. For example, it allows for objects to be dragged and dropped onto individual member page for quick construction of an internal site for sharing with the team;
•Task creation, assignment and notification is a snap, and intuitive;
•Calendar shares are set up so that different team members may be given access to different levels of information. For example, a calendar item on a sales meeting may be shared with others on the sales team, but hidden from non-sales colleagues.
Cloud-based collaboration is a crowded field. HyperOffice must compete with Microsoft (NSDQ:MSFT)’s SharePoint (both on-premise and hosted), LotusLive, Google (NSDQ:GOOG) Apps and the free-and-pay service Zoho.
To measure HyperOffice’s effectiveness in comparison to the competition, we need to examine the cost and complexity it creates compared to the others – since cost and complexity tend to be among the biggest enemies of small or mid-sized businesses. HyperOffice pricing begins at a five-user plan at $44.95 per month – meaning the $8.99 monthly user cost is competitive. As user numbers scale up, pricing per user scales down; for 250 users, the user monthly cost is $6.25 – even more competitive.
In terms of complexity, there isn’t any. Because it is a hosted service, no back-end infrastructure is required. Set-up takes minutes. Enabling user accounts takes minutes. Getting a work group or team up and running and collaborating, in a pinch, is about an hour’s work.
The one area where we found HyperOffice came up short was an absence of apps for iOS or Android mobile platforms. (Here, competitors like Lotus an Zoho have apps.) That’s not a deal breaker but, with the hypergrowth of mobile device use, it needs to be noted.
For Value-added Resellers, HyperOffice provides up to 50 percent margins on seat sales, and notes that services like portal customization can carry 100 percent margin. HyperOffice also provides training, second-level tech support and marketing support.
HyperOffice has more than earned a seat at the table for VARs discussing cloud-based collaboration with customers, and it provides a solution that the CRN Test Center is happy to recommend.