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Zoho Adds Another Microsoft Plug-In to SaaS Offerings

Software as a Service (SaaS) provider Zoho announced yet another online collaboration platform aimed at legacy Microsoft offerings.

The Boston, Mass.- and Pleasanton, Calif.-based company introduced Zoho Plug-in for Microsoft Access this week on the heels of announcing Zoho Office for Microsoft SharePoint in early July and Zoho Integration with Microsoft SharePoint in June.

"We are meeting a strong demand from small to medium-sized businesses [SMBs] for cloud offerings that are based on legacy systems," said Raju Vegesna, self-described evangelist for Zoho, in a telephone interview. "Our plug-ins for Microsoft applications are becoming very popular, and in most cases are free."

Zoho Plug-in for Microsoft Access is part of Zoho Creator, a cloud computing  platform introduced in 2007. The plug-in allows users to migrate database MDB files from Access to Zoho Creator to create a robust Web-based collaborative database application, according to Vegesna.

Zoho currently has more than 1.8 million users and is growing at about 100,000 users per month, Vegesna said. He also noted that more than 200,000 applications have been created with Zoho Creator.

Zoho Creator has an online marketplace where customers can directly interact with developers and have custom applications created, according to a company statement.

Vegesna said that while SMBs are Zoho's primary target, they have noticed more and more departments within enterprises using Zoho Apps.

"Security is obviously the most important aspect for the enterprise and we take care of it at every level," Vegesna said. "We are no different than a bank in terms of storing customers assets."

Industry watchdog Directions on Microsoft is keeping a close eye on competitors offering alternatives and integrations with Microsoft products.

"I think it's inevitable that we're going to see many new solutions that are competitive to, and collaborative with, the Azure Services Platform as it approaches its general release," said Rob Sanfilippo, research VP and developer for Tools & Strategies, Directions on Microsoft. "Amazon and Google have already had cloud offerings, so they may adjust those as it becomes clear what Microsoft's platform can do and for what cost."

About the Author

Herb Torrens is an award-winning freelance writer based in Southern California. He managed the MCSP program for a leading computer telephony integrator for more than five years and has worked with numerous solution providers including HP/Compaq, Nortel, and Microsoft in all forms of media.

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