Recently, a company called BPOS Experts announced a product called BPOS Commander. The product has made quite a splash and it is the most feature rich BPOS management tool I’ve seen to date. For example, one of the features built into the tool is the ability to estimate how long it will take to migrate mail. The estimate is based on live conditions from the mail source to the mail target. Also, administration features like creating users and changing user passwords, and migration of Exchange Public Folders, SharePoint content, and file share content to SharePoint Online are all built in.
Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with John Liccione, President of BPOS Experts and I took the opportunity to ask him about BPOS Commander.
Brett: John, I know you’ve been in the BPOS business for a while and have worked with a lot of customers and partners over the last couple of years. What was your reason for creating BPOS Experts?
John: We felt there was a very strong need and market opportunity to create automation around BPOS ordering, setup, management, and content migration. We’ve had the product in limited use and testing for 6 or 7 months. At the most recent World Partner Conference [July 2010], we launched BPOS Commander and it is now available to the general public.
Brett: With BPOS Commander, is this a service or product you download?
John: It’s a software tool you download and run on a Windows workstation or server, and it bridges your on-premises and BPOS environments.
Brett: As a partner, why would I be interested in BPOS Commander?
John: We make BPOS Commander available for partners that are in the business of migrating customers to BPOS and managing customer's BPOS environments. In short, it will help BPOS Partners deliver more business with fewer resources in a shorter period of time.
Brett: So what you saying is, if I’m in the BPOS business, BPOS Commander is going to help me migrate and manage more customers?
John: Yes, as well as help you open up new revenue streams through maintenance. It also helps creates stickiness as the partner can use BPOS Commander to offer better support and maintenance for their customers post-migration, so they can keep getting that residual revenue stream.
At the front end, BPOS Commander decreases the “time to cloud” meaning that from the time you start your sales cycle to the time the customer’s content is migrated is greatly reduced. For example, our Getting started on BPOS wizard walks an end user through the entire process of signing up, , getting BPOS setup and configured, setting up your first SharePoint Online site collection, and gets you ready to migrate content. This takes what can be a 3 hour process and turns it into 30 minutes.
Also, we have pre-migration analytics for mail and public folder migration. We have speed tests built in that let you estimate migration speed in real time. This lets the partner provide better estimates about how long a migration will take. This results in better pricing for a project and overall, better customer satisfaction, since there are fewer surprises.
Brett: So what specific problems does BPOS Commander solve?
John: Let’s talk about the phases of BPOS adoption, specifically pre-migration/assessment and selling. BPOS Commander lets you easily demonstrate a migration to a free trial account. You can quickly show customers what their life will be like after the migration. We make it easier to migrate - customers can see migration happening, and we migrate more than just mail, so a Partner can offer a more complete Migration and on-going BPOS management service.
Brett: How so?
John: We provide the ability to migrate 4 types of content. Of course you can migrate an Exchange mailbox, but we can also migrate Exchange public folders to SharePoint Online, on-site or hosted SharePoint site lists and libraries, and corporate file shares to SharePoint Online.
Obviously, one of the big gaps we fill is migrating public folders to SharePoint Online.
Brett: Do you provide any synchronization capabilities?
John: Yes. We have the ability to take an Exchange mailbox or SharePoint content and sync it to a SharePoint Online list or library. This provides a workaround for email enabled lists in SharePoint Online which is not a part of BPOS at the moment. There are two parts of this, getting the public folder content into SharePoint Online and then keeping it synchronized. This can be done with multiple mailboxes via multiple sync jobs, and you can control the synch interval with Windows Task Scheduler.
In addition, on demand, you can request BPOS Commander to synch BPOS user account properties with mapped AD user properties. This is not intended to be a replacement for DirSynch, but this providea a good alternative for smaller accounts that don’t want to deploy DirSynch.
Brett: Mailbox migration – how do you to that mechanically?
John: The BPOS Commander client calls the Microsoft migration cmdlets for mailbox migration so it uses the same PowerShell commands under the covers that Microsoft uses. The BPOS Commander installer checks for the presence of PowerShell and the Migration Command Shell and will automatically download and install them as part of the BPOS Commander install process, making all that easier on the end user.
Brett: So BPOS commander is a functional replacement for the Migration Tool?
John: Yes, it does the same things but adds the SharePoint Online migration capabilities for public folders, SharePoint, and fileshare content, adds migration time estimation capabilities, and adds on-going user management features and on-going sync so that one doesn't have to become an expert in PowerShell or rely solely on the Administrative Center web console to manage BPOS.
There are few things we don’t do, such as create Distribution Lists and conference rooms as these capabilities are not yet exposed by BPOS via an API.
Brett: How can partners find out what the costs are?
John: BPOS Commander can be purchased outright by partners and resold or used on customer engagements for a per-user per-month fee that currently starts at $1 per user to the partner, suggested retail price is $1.25 per user. Currently, we require a minimum of 100 users and one year license so the minimum is $1200 to the partner. This is much less expensive than other tools on the market and it can easily pay for itself with just the resetting passwords feature which you do with a couple of mouse clicks in BPOS Commander.
We also have a revenue share model if the partner wishes to split the BPOS Partner of record revenue with BPOS Experts.
We have an overview of our partner program at www.bpos-experts.com and partners can submit a partner application at [ http://www.bpos-experts.com/bpos-partner-application/
BPOSExperts Partner Program - http://www.bpos-experts.com/bpos-partner-application/
BPOS Commander video tutorials: http://www.bpos-experts.com/bpos-commander/videos/