HostPro enters ASP market with messaging service

Web-hosting company HostPro Inc. is making its first foray into the application service provider market Tuesday with an advanced messaging service targeted at small companies.

Called HostPro Advanced Messaging, the service is based on Microsoft Exchange 2000 Server and Microsoft Outlook 2000. The service will give users "anytime, anywhere" access to all of Outlook's features, including e-mail, collaboration and calendaring, says Rob Maupin, area vice president of product development.

"We're enhancing the ability of these companies to communicate and offer a service that previously was too expensive -- both in technical people to run the infrastructure and in the cost of hardware and licensing from Microsoft," says Maupin. "We're empowering [smaller companies] to compete with large businesses."

Maupin says HostPro is offering the service in response to a customer survey that found that many small businesses want high-level messaging capabilities, but can't afford to run them on their own.

With Tuesday's announcement, HostPro enters the volatile ASP market, forecast by the Gartner Group to surpass $25 billion in 2004, but not without some casualties along the way. Still, HostPro is jumping into the game with the service most likely to be outsourced: communications. A study released earlier this year by Zona Research and commissioned by the ASP Industry Consortium found that communications applications, such as e-mail and messaging, were the most popular applications to host with an ASP.

HostPro Advanced Messaging is immediately available, starting at $20 per mailbox, with a minimum of five mailboxes. There is no set-up fee, for a limited time. After that, the price will be $25 per month per mailbox, with a one-time set-up fee of about $100. The service includes round-the-clock support, virus protection and server backup.

In addition, users will have Web-based control of their messaging service so they can add or delete users using a browser interface. The messaging service is accessible from the desktop Outlook 2000 interface, or through any Internet browser, Maupin says.

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