Microsoft somewhat-recently released a product that every business should consider – a hosted spam filtering and anti-virus service. Originally Frontbridge, Microsoft Exchange Hosted Services offer a nice menu of mail-related services at very competitive prices. Their spam filtering service (MEHS) can be had for just over $2/user from your local Microsoft partner/vendor.
Excited by this prospect, we signed one of our clients up for a free 30 day evaluation of the service. There were some minor gotchas with it – such as some mail routing and strange mail logging issues in our pre-testing, but once we had it up and running it was quite pain free.
Most importantly, the customer was very happy, and their egos were no longer taking the hit from the constant e-mails offering to “enlarge their pen1s”.
Great! At $2/user, this was a slam dunk. Right?
When it came time to buy, things got REALLY fun. First of all, our vendor couldn’t even get a call-back from Microsoft/Frontbridge to get the process started. This was our vendors first sale (they were very eager to get our feedback, since this could be a fantastic service). Of course, I wasted hours on the phone to keep the process rolling. It took nearly 2 weeks to go from quote to sales order.
Then it got worse. The gotcha that nobody knew about reared its head.
Currently Microsoft Exchange Hosted services are only available with a 3-year contract. That’s right – 3 years. This isn’t listed anywhere on Microsoft’s website, or in any of the pre-sales/evaluation information.
Okay Microsoft, what kind of crack are you smoking. No small business in their right mind should EVER sign a 3-year contract for technology. It’s in their best interest to take a look at the service on an annual basis then renew.
Needless to say, I couldn’t recommend this to my clients. It’s more than a bit ridiculous, and very disappointing. I know I wouldn’t be buying enough seats to make a difference on my own, but it’s important that others looking for this kind of service be fully aware of what they’re getting into.