Thursday, 15 April 2010 14:44

Hosting company Emantra anticipates Microsoft 2010 lineup


Microsoft's 2010 server product releases are a big opportunity, according to the CTO of a hosting company.

Emantra is a Brisbane-based hosting company that's a 100% Microsoft shop. It caters for mid to high-end clients, including government departments, industrial companies, and one of the major banks.

The arrival of Exchange 2010 and SharePoint 2010, along with improvements to Hyper-V memory management present Emantra with renewed opportunities, according to CTO Cameron McFie.

"We're building a solution around [Exchange 2010]," McFie told iTWire, adding that Emantra expects to offer a hosted SharePoint 2010 within a month of its launch.

SharePoint 2007 wasn't good for hosted systems, he observed.

Memory management "was the last piece in the puzzle" missing from Hyper-V compared with competing virtualisation products, said McFie. It will be available at a fraction of the cost of the competition, and those savings will be passed on to clients.

How important is virtualisation to Emantra? See page 2.

Over two-thirds of Emantra's server infrastructure has been virtualised, the main exceptions being high-performance database servers and systems operated for "old school guys" who still resist virtualisation.

Microsoft's virtual machine manager now provides visibility into what's actually happening within the systems, allowing administrators to adjust the amount of memory allocated to virtual machines, or to move VMs to different servers to optimise overall performance.

Hosting companies' skill levels in this area shouldn't be taken for granted, said McFie, and "a lot of hosting companies really oversubscribe their infrastructure" so everyone gets bad performance. He suggested this is a particular problem with some US-based hosting companies, and that the practice can get the hosting industry a bad name.

"We have to provide that additional quality of service" to satisfy large corporate customers, said McFie.

McFie believes Emantra's potential clients now understand the merits of cloud or hosted systems: "they trust hosting a lot more [than previously]" and the required bandwidth is usually available, he explained.

What are the main reasons for choosing hosted solutions? Please read on.

But the motivation varies according to the size of the client. At the lower end, companies simply can't match the price offered by hosting companies.

Larger organisations may have the economies of scale needed to make insourcing financially competitive, but time to market or internal politics may make a hosted system more attractive to the business side of the enterprise.

For example, and in-house IT team may have a list of projects planned months ahead, whereas a hosting company can set up a new system almost immediately.

The arrival of a new wave of Microsoft server products comes at a good time for hosting companies, McFie suggested. Larger organisations tend to alternate between favouring insourcing and outsourcing, and the pendulum is  currently on the outsourcing side.

"This year is going to be exciting for Microsoft and companies like ours," he said.

Emantra has traditionally been the first to market with hosted versions of Microsoft's products - usually on the day of release - and McFie expects to do the same this year.


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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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