Zynstra integrates Office 365 into hybrid cloud managed IT services for SMBs

Zynstra has announced a new product as part of its Hybrid Cloud portfolio of managed IT services for small to medium businesses (SMBs), enabling integration of on-premise systems with Microsoft’s Office 365 cloud suite.

Available from 17 February, O365Connect has been developed in partnership with Microsoft and HP in order to provide the same control of on-premise IT but with the economics and service levels associated with cloud services, according to Zynstra.

As with Zynstra’s other Hybrid Cloud offerings, O365Connect is delivered to the customer pre-installed and configured as an appliance based on the latest HP server hardware, via one of the firm’s service provider partners such as Easynet or Voxclever.

Launched last year, the Hybrid Cloud portfolio offers firms with between five and 250 users what is effectively a pre-built private cloud, managed remotely by the service provider on their behalf.

O365Connect extends this by providing an appliance that delivers an out-of-the-box point of control and integration between the customer’s on-premise IT infrastructure and Office 365 services.

Zynstra chief executive Nick East told V3 that Office 365 has rapidly become a key IT service for SMBs, and so integration of this is a natural extension of its portfolio.

“We recognise that more and more small companies are selecting Office 365 as their primary business suite, and we wanted those customers to be able to enjoy the reliability and security of on-premise IT with the flexibility of the cloud,” he said.

In addition, key technologies that SMBs have historically relied on, such as Windows XP, Office 2003 and Windows Small Business Server (SBS), are all reaching the end of their lifecycles.

“We saw the need to create a natural upgrade path to a next-generation solution that continues to support the needs of those customers,” East said.

As an appliance, O365Connect offers a core set of IT services required to seamlessly integrate with Office 365, including a network gateway, Active Directory integration, identity services, security functions, a local file server and backup services.

The latter allows users to back up their local file storage to Microsoft’s Windows Azure cloud service, according to East, but this capability goes in both directions with company email data from Office 365 backed up using on-premise storage.

As with the existing Hybrid Cloud portfolio, Zynstra leaves pricing up to its service provider partners, but East said that O365Connect should cost no more than the equivalent of a monthly mobile phone contract, covering the cost of the hardware and licensing for any software on the appliance.

Zynstra also announced that it has added Ingram Micro as a service provider partner, and said the firm will be supporting O365Connect and its existing Hybrid Cloud portfolio.