While The VAR Guy ruminates on a possible VMware-Alfresco partnership, I decided now would be a good time to take a quick look at some of the major SaaS players attacking Microsoft Exchange/SharePoint’s dominance in the enterprise. Here are seven competitors looking for a cloud slice of Microsoft’s pie.

They include:
  1. Google Apps - The search giant’s cloud productivity suite probably bears no introduction, but a relentless anti-Microsoft PR campaign coupled with the drive to make it easier for administrators to migrate from Exchange makes it probably the biggest threat to Redmond’s supremacy - as evidenced by the fact that Microsoft singles them out for counter-marketing moves.
  2. Zoho - Where Google Apps goes after both the consumer and enterprise spaces, Zoho is constantly releasing new enterprise-focused SaaS applications like Zoho Invoice and Zoho Helpdesk. But it doesn’t stop them from finding new users by integrating with Google.
  3. HyperOffice - Like Zoho, HyperOffice is looking for enterprise users. Sold and packaged as a full-fledged replacement for Microsoft Exchange and SharePoint, users get a lot of functionality (and a graphical inferface) typically associated with desktop environments, all in the browser. It even pushes to your iPhone.
  4. IBM LotusLive - While the Microsoft/IBM rivalry isn’t quite back up to the levels of old, Big Blue’s cloud version of Lotus Notes is still a force in the channel.
  5. VMware - The most recent entry to this list is also the most mysterious. The launch of the Zimbra open-source email appliance marks the real start of their push against Microsoft Exchange. But VMware is a powerful enough player in the market to make them worth watching.
  6. Open-Xchange, which has significant momentum with VARs and MSPs that are moving into SaaS-centric email solutions.
  7. There is no number seven. The VAR Guy doesn’t play by the rules and neither do I.
There’s no doubt that Microsoft Exchange is currently on top in the enterprise space. But that continued dominance is no longer so assured.

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