By Brian Winstead
Are you a little tired of being told you need to migrate your messaging systems either to Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 or to Office 365, as if those were the only two choices left in the wide world? Assuming you need a technology refresh, you might want to consider other options, of which you’ll find there still are plenty. It’s true, if you’re considering a cloud service, Office 365 has some compelling selling points, but you just might want to check out some of the competition: for instance, HyperOffice.
The HyperOffice collaboration suite is a cloud-based service aimed at small-to-midsized businesses (SMBs). “With our mail, contacts, calendar, we’re essentially an Exchange alternative,” HyperOffice president Farzin Arsanjani said. “And then we have documents and projects and the rest where you straddle the line between Exchange and SharePoint to some extent. It’s a full-blown business-class email with all the regular bells and whistles, with full spam control, and virus control, and quarantine control. It has filtering capabilities, folders, out-of-office replies, and we support it on many different mobile devices, many difference browsers—PCs or Macs, it doesn’t matter. We have full support for POP as well as IMAP clients, and we have deep support for Outlook.”
Arsanjani provided me a fairly comprehensive demo of the product, and the integration of the email and collaboration side of things is quite impressive. With the click of a button, you can turn an email message into a task with workflow—a nice feature for project management. Shared calendars and groups are easy to manage. Administrative control is granted through three levels of access, so you can segregate users such that workers have access only to the information they need—both a security precaution and an aid in preventing information overload.
HyperOffice offers free training and phone support, leading to one of the company’s key slogans: No Geeks Required. Now, I suspect such a slogan won’t sit well with established IT departments, particularly those already fearing losing their jobs to cloud outsourcing. However, the idea here is a good one: HyperOffice is making is easy for companies to learn and take advantage of the service they’re offering, and implement it with little or no in-house IT support required. Although the company lists some large, high-profile clients on its website—Dell, Sony, Yamaha—the sweet-spot really seems to be SMBs or startups.
As Arsanjani said, “We have tried to put together a collection of applications and features and an interface that will be conducive to small and medium businesses who may be lacking the sort of technical resources that are required to implement more powerful types of applications. But it really comes down to what resonates with each particular customer.” If you’re testing out Office 365, you might want to look at a blog HyperOffice posted, “Microsoft Office 365 : An assessment“—granted, a biased view, but it includes an nice feature comparison chart with the E1 Office 365 plan.