MCI WorldCom to Offer Hosted E-mail

ATLANTA (04/10/2000) - MCI WorldCom Inc. this week jumped into the hosted e-mail applications business with the help of Critical Path Inc., a major messaging vendor in San Francisco.

The carrier announced the immediate availability of MCI WorldCom Managed E-mail, a service that provides options ranging from Internet e-mail to a hosted Microsoft Exchange enterprise platform.

E-mail outsourcing currently appeals to a minority of enterprise users, although the number is growing, according to analysts. Gartner Group in Stamford, Connecticut, estimates the market will reach $1.3 billion by the end of the year.

In reality, the new MCI WorldCom service itself will be mostly coming from Critical Path. Critical Path provides POP3 and Internet Messaging Access Protocol e-mail hosting service from several sites around the country and the fully hosted Microsoft Exchange service from one site in California.

MCI WorldCom will now private-brand the offerings and add it to their billing.

Its sales force and Tier 2 technical support personnel will also be trained on the product. Pricing will range from $2 to $22 per seat per month, depending on the options chosen by users.

Range of options

MCI WorldCom will offer the service much the same way that Critical Path has tailored its product suite to the users it sells to directly - avoiding an all-or-nothing approach and offering a range of options.

The strategy, which Critical Path dubs Allsourcing, offers users the ability to pick from a smorgasbord of services: e-mail gateways, groupware hosting, calendaring and scheduling, integrated fax, security, wireless access and directory services.

Critical Path is a 21/2-year-old company that has worked itself into a dominant position in the e-mail outsourcing field. Much of its growth has come through eight acquisitions in the past year.

'Boundary services' important

One of the important aspects of Critical Path's offerings is to provide what Peter Charland, its vice president of marketing and sales, calls boundary services. Those include virus scanning, content filtering, distribution lists and delivery of messages to non-e-mail devices.

MCI, before its acquisition by WorldCom, was one of the pioneers of the first generation of service provider electronic messaging systems with its popular MCImail service.

"We still have customers up on MCImail," says Angie Holmes, senior manager of messaging services for MCI WorldCom. The carrier will look to migrate those users to the new managed e-mail offer.

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