It's important to know your market, particularly if you're in marketing. That's why it wasn't much of a surprise to hear Dusan Vitek, vice president of worldwide marketing for Kerio Technologies, say, "You hear sometimes one size fits all. I don't think that's quite true. With IT, I think one size fits nobody. There are good reasons why somebody would want to deploy Kerio Connect on prem, and very good reasons why somebody would want to outsource the infrastructure part of it and just have control of the administration of the service."
Vitek's comment was part of a discussion about Kerio's latest announcement, which introduces Kerio Cloud, the company's first self-hosted cloud infrastructure for Kerio Connect, a cross-platform email and calendaring server aimed at small-to-midsized businesses (SMBs). Previously, Kerio has allowed partners to provide Kerio Connect as a hosted service, but with Kerio Cloud, the company is providing customers or partners with a pre-configured, linux-based Kerio Connect 8 virtual machine (VM).
"Our Kerio Cloud is essentially a private cloud offering," Vitek said. "It sits between on prem and a public cloud. It gives people full control over their infrastructure and full control of their data. It's not like with, say, Office 365 where, on the admin side, you can hardly control anything. In our case, we're essentially deploying private clouds for customers who want to dip their toes in the cloud with a hosted email service."
In addition to the news about Kerio Cloud, Kerio Connect 8 adds greylisting for added spam defense. Provided as a cloud service, greylisting delays messages from any unknown senders, requiring the sending server to queue and resubmit the message -- which spammers typically won't do. To avoid delaying messages for legitimate senders, the Kerio Greylisting Service maintains a database of "trustworthy senders" based on information from greylisting-enabled Connect servers around the globe.
The other major change in Kerio Connect 8 is a complete redesign of the webmail client. "We were witnessing sort of a growing need for simplifying how people use email, calendars, and contacts," Vitek said. "That was one of the driving factors for redesigning the client, and we tried to marry good design and usability." Clearly, this trend toward simplification is something we're seeing throughout the industry, perhaps most notably in Windows 8's Metro-style UI (or whatever they're calling it these days) and the way that Microsoft has standardized that look across its 2013 product line.
The new Connect webmail interface is pictured below. It appears uncluttered yet functional, much like Microsoft Exchange Server 2013's Outlook Web App (OWA), although the Kerio interface actually looks a little more appealing to me. Maybe it's a better color palette or that it contains more than one color. Anyway, your opinions may vary.
An interesting factor driving Kerio Connect adoption lately is Microsoft's decision to discontinue Windows Small Business Server (SBS), which was announced earlier this year. "We've seen both end users -- customers -- as well as partners coming to us looking for the alternative to what they had [with SBS]," Vitek said. "They came to us and looked at Connect and said, 'This makes sense for us.' So we're getting a lot of inquiries from the SBS community, including the Microsoft MVP group for SBS." This point is just a good reminder that when it comes to serving the SMB market, Microsoft might not always be the best first choice.
Although Kerio Cloud is a major new move for Kerio, the company will continue to offer Kerio Connect in the on-premises version as well, which goes back to knowing the market and providing your customers the opportunity to choose the deployment method that suits their needs. However, it's through recognizing increasing interest in the cloud that Kerio has made the current move. Now customers and partners can choose how best to proceed.