BPOS, short for Business Productivity Online Suite was a first of its kind attempt by Microsoft to establish its presence in the SaaS cloud computing field. To an extent it was successful with a user base of about one million customers. The popularity of BPOS was eventually shrouded by the fact that Microsoft charged much lower for per-seat BPOS as compared to the pricing of per-seat hosted Exchange providers out there. This didn’t go too well with the hosted Exchange providers and this gave rise to many controversies.
Office 365 can be broadly be considered as the BPOS v2, but with many added features and capabilities, Office 365 is an offering from Microsoft way too advanced than BPOS. There are quite a few differences between Office 365 and BPOS worth mentioning:
1. Office 365 is based on the 2010 version of SharePoint, Exchange and Lync Server (formerly Office Communications Server), while BPOS was launched in late 2008 and hence was built upon the 2007 version of all the three. The important aspect of version here is that cloud delivery model was adopted for 2010 versions, while it wasn’t in 2007 versions of the component products.
2. Office 365 includes Office Professional Plus, while BPOS didn’t have that and was merely restricted to web apps.
3. BPOS was designed to cater the needs of smaller businesses, while Office 365 has been designed to cater to organisations of all sizes. Microsoft’s aim to enter the enterprise segment for cloud-based SaaS is quite evident from this move.
4. Service Connector Enhancements in Office 365 that simplifies desktop management, update and patch management along with login process management are not present in BPOS.
5. SharePoint Online in BPOS was more or less considered as just a document repository for document sharing, while SharePoint Online 2010 in Office 365 has evolved as a true collaboration tool that simplifies enterprise wide application delivery through cloud delivery platform.
6. BPOS lacked Customer Relationship Management (CRM) while Microsoft has already planned an integration of Dynamics CRM Online with Office 365.
7. Cloud functionality was not the building block of BPOS while Office 365 was designed from grass roots as a cloud delivery platform. Because of the design limitation of BPOS, it was suitable only for small business as previously mentioned whereas the cloud centric design from grounds up for Office 365 has made it scalable for large enterprises.
With Office 365, Microsoft’s inclination toward on-premise solutions seems to be changing and is giving way to off-premise and more manageable solutions. With the latest offering Microsoft may finally update cloud based products first compared to on-premise solutions.
This latest offering from Microsoft is definitely a major leap forward for cloud based email, collaboration tools, web conferencing, telephony and other services. Office 365 would certainly establish the Redmond based operating system giant as one of the leading cloud based solution provider which caters to organisations according to their requirements which unfortunately BPOS wasn’t able to deliver despite the large user base it caters to.