I told you this was coming…
Cable companies started out by offering cable service to the home. Over the past few years they have morphed into providers of high speed Internet access to businesses as well – in direct competition to telephone companies who provide DSL and/or T1 line services.
It is more than just Internet access but now they are also providing voice and a range of other services as Comcast and Microsoft announced this week.
Comcast’s press release reads Comcast’s small business customers will be the first in the country to receive Microsoft Communication Services from Comcast, which will provide them with corporate- class e-mail, calendaring and document sharing. This product is Internet- based, so SMBs do not need additional server capacity and is backed by 24×7 Business Class customer support from Comcast, which will serve as an SMB’s “help desk.”
What does this mean to you?
This means that small businesses, thanks to the rise of hosted applications, have a much wider range of solutions offered from a larger pool of service providers.
Traditionally Microsoft’s offering would be put together by Microsoft consultants/partners and often housed on corporate servers.
Now, Microsoft’s partners are Internet service providers as well. These providers already have a pipe into the home, their next stage is for them to add value added services to their existing customers.
How should you decide which service provider to work with?
This really depends on your needs and your business.
Let’s say you want an intranet for internal and external communications. You could go directly to WebEx WebOffice, HotOffice or some other online office provider – including Microsoft’s Office Live. Or you could elect to take a solution from your telecommunication provider.
If collaboration and communication are critically important to you, I would highly suggest that you look for a BEST OF BREED solution. This means a solution from the best provider of services you can provide and not necessarily one resold to you from a 3rd party or otherwise.