by Carmen Carmack
HyperOffice offers a Web-based integrated suite of collaboration tools that covers a range of productivity needs. Features and capabilities of HyperOffice include business email, contact management, calendaring, document management, intranet and extranet workspaces, forums, Web conferencing, online databases, and Web forms.
As SaaS (Software as a Service), HyperOffice solutions allow you to use a Web browser and Internet connection to access and use the collaboration tools. HyperOffice also operates on any Web-enabled mobile device, so you can collaborate with email, contacts, calendars, and tasks while on the go. To learn more about HyperOffice and how it works with mobile devices, we spoke to Shahab Kaviani, HyperOffice vice president of sales and marketing. Answers have been edited for clarity and space.
Q How long has HyperOffice been available?
A Originally known as webOS, HyperOffice has been around for about 10 years. We were one of the first SaaS companies, and we changed the name to HyperOffice about six years ago. We’ve always been doing mobile worker services over the Web. We started with mail, documents, and calendars, and we’ve been adding to our services ever since.
Q What services does HyperOffice offer that are well-suited to mobile workers?
A The services that HyperOffice delivers to mobile workers are what we call mobile business collaboration. People with Web-enabled mobile devices can share their contacts, share their calendars, and schedule tasks. With an iPhone, you also get online document collaboration capability, because you can open documents stored on the HyperOffice servers directly on an iPhone.
Q How do users access HyperOffice with a mobile device?
A When you use a mobile device, you can access HyperOffice through any mobile Web browser. HyperOffice is a hosted Web service, so users simply use the browser to log on to their portal on the Web. Our servers recognize when a mobile device is coming in, and they automatically serve a mobile version of our interface.
Q What do I need to install HyperOffice?
A All you need is a Web browser and an Internet connection. Setup takes less than an hour in most cases. Because HyperOffice is Web-based, you do not need to buy additional software or hardware to use the features and collaboration tools we provide.
Q How is HyperOffice different from other mobile collaboration services?
A With HyperOffice, users get access to live shared information. Most services provide information that is only as current as the last sync with the mobile device. If I make a calendar change, and I haven’t synchronized my device, you don’t know that my schedule has changed. But with HyperOffice, you are accessing live data because it is browser-based and accessing up-to-date information stored on our servers. With bandwidth as fast as it is today, live data access from a mobile device is a reality.
Q For companies that need to store sensitive data and documents, how is information and data secured on the Hyper-Office servers?
A Our data centers are at NTT/Verio, the largest telecommunications company in the world. The data is encrypted there, and the facilities are SAS-70-compliant to meet important industry auditing standards. We haven’t had any breach reported or the sort of attack that you find on the Internet these days, and we’ve never compromised anyone’s data.
In addition, data is backed up continuously, and we use redundant servers with 99.9% availability. To encrypt the data as it’s traveling between the PC/mobile device and our servers, some of our customers choose our SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encryption add-on service.
Q What email applications does Hyper-Office support? Can I use it with my mobile device email accounts?
A HyperOffice works with any IMAP or POP3 mail client, which includes most of today’s email software. If you have a Microsoft Outlook-compatible device, you can even manage Outlook information from your handheld with HyperOffice.
We can also act as a mail service provider, so if you have your own domain (company.com), you can point your email domain to our hosting service. This eliminates the need to manage your own email servers, but note that it is an optional add-on feature. We also plan to offer push email and over-the-air synchronization services by the end of 2009.
Q Can I use HyperOffice to collaborate with others on documents in applications such as Microsoft Office?
A We support access to all file types for PC and Mac browsers. You can open a document from your virtual drive (HyperDrive) as if it were a local file. HyperDrive acts as a Web folder, so you can save Microsoft Office files directly to the virtual drive. For other file types, you work on a copy that you upload back to the server.
Currently on the iPhone, you can open any Microsoft Office document, then save it back to your HyperOffice portal. Other mobile devices cannot open shared Word documents. In the coming months, we hope to support documents on non-iPhone devices, as well.
Q Is the mobile collaboration solution a Web-based tool? Is it different from the standard desktop tool?
A Yes, the mobile collaboration tool is Web-based. It is a scaled-down version of the desktop collaboration tool. To accommodate mobile devices, we drop some of the graphics and some of the less popular features. For mobile collaboration, we offer the more popular features such as email, calendaring, contacts, tasks, and documents (iPhone only).
Q What types of businesses benefit most from HyperOffice?
A For any small to medium business that needs mobile collaboration, shared calendaring, shared contacts, and email, HyperOffice is the lowest-cost option on the market. The only other way you can do what we do is to use Microsoft Exchange or BlackBerry servers, which cost more. HyperOffice is the lowest-cost way for mobile workers to get business email, business email service, and shareability of schedules and contacts.
Last year, we won an award from AT&T in the small-medium business mobile application category. We spotlighted our mobile collaboration tools that make it possible for users of mobile devices to access corporate email and share contacts, calendars, tasks, and notes. As an example, HyperOffice synchronizes the iPhone email client with Microsoft Outlook and operates as an alternative to Microsoft Exchange, the corporate messaging platform that the iPhone does not support. We are helping small business centers that don’t have the infrastructure to put in BlackBerry servers or Microsoft Exchange.
Q What is the pricing model for Hyper-Office? Is there an additional cost for mobile devices/collaboration?
A For small businesses (10 to15 employees), the average price is approximately $8 per month per person. Each user receives 100MB of storage, and an additional 100MB of space is available for $3 per month. We do not charge anything extra for mobile devices; it is an additional capability.