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Second reseller joins MS CRM hosting ranks

Feb 18, 20043 mins
CRM SystemsMicrosoftSecurity

A second reseller of Microsoft CRM said Tuesday it has begun offering hosting services for the software, citing strong customer demand for hosting options.

A second reseller of Microsoft CRM said Tuesday it has begun offering hosting services for the software, citing strong customer demand for hosting options.

Dallas-based midmarket business applications consultancy ePartners is teaming with hosting platform provider Data Return to offer ePartners’ customers hosted deployments of Microsoft CRM. Prices vary by configuration, but an average setup would cost $99 per user per month, ePartners said.

Microsoft CRM is aimed at small and midmarket companies and offers sales, account, and contact management functionality. It competes against similar software from vendors such as Onyx Software, and against products from service providers such as and Salesnet, which offer their software under monthly subscription plans. CRM heavyweight Siebel’s recent entry into the subscription market, with its new Siebel CRM OnDemand service, is a sign of the growing customer interest in remote management options.

“More and more customers are requesting to look at the benefits and costs, and are considering hosting,” said ePartners CEO Dan Duffy. He estimates that up to a third of ePartners’ customers now consider hosting when eyeing new products, up from less than 10% a year ago.

Microsoft’s first CRM hosting partner, Lexington, Mass.-based Surebridge, said that about 30% of its Microsoft CRM customers choose a hosted deployment — and 70% consider it. Surebridge has been offering hosting services for Microsoft CRM since the product’s release in late 2002.

“We really see much more focus and consideration being placed on the online solution,” said Chris Houpis, Surebridge’s director of corporate marketing. “The market seems much more focused on it now.”

Surebridge has several dozen customers live on its hosted Microsoft CRM service. EPartners, which has done 65 Microsoft CRM deployments so far, has three customers signed up for its new hosted service and about a dozen likely to go live shortly, Duffy said. EPartners’ service is available in the U.S. and the U.K.

EPartners recently ended a partnership with IBM, which previously provided the infrastructure for ePartners’ hosted application offerings. As the company began focusing more narrowly on Microsoft’s solution set, it found Data Return a better strategic fit than IBM, Duffy said.

“We did a lot of due diligence before we chose Data Return,” he said. “The hosting market has really come of age. All the providers out there have gotten really smart in figuring out how to partition servers, bring the price points down, and meet the service levels customers require.”