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Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) and partner opportunities

Microsoft recently announced the local availability of their Business Productivity Online Suite or BPOS, a set of applications delivered over the web, and available to users for a regular monthly fee.

Comprised of four established Microsoft hosted messaging and collaboration solutions including Microsoft Exchange Online, Microsoft SharePoint Online, Microsoft Office Live Meeting, and Microsoft Office Communications Online, the offerings are available here after being available in the United States. The offerings can be purchased as a set, or can be subscribed to on their own – it’s up to the organisation to decide. (Full details of pricing are available at http://www.microsoft.com/online/en-nz/buy.mspx.)

Cynics have deemed this as a “too little, too late” response to Google’s continual march online, after Google’s Gmail, Docs and Spreadsheets have commanded earlier adopter attention across the globe. Stating the obvious, Google’s strategy often runs counter to Microsoft, with the search giant currently reliant on revenue generated by online advertising to subsidise the creation of virtually all of its products and services – it’s a “one trick pony, ” as Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer once stated.

Closer to Microsoft, there has also been considerable debate amongst the Microsoft partner ecosystem as to whether Microsoft offering its own online solutions represent a threat or an opportunity. In the past, Microsoft has relied on its partners to host its applications online, and now it’s getting into the game itself, potentially cutting off a source of income for partners.

Here at Intergen, we’re supportive of Microsoft’s initiatives such as these, and see the delivery of solutions such as these as an opportunity. We see initiatives such as BPOS:

  • Creating opportunities for partners such as Intergen to add value to the implementation of solutions such as SharePoint Online, which can be configured to meet a customer’s requirements.
  • Providing customers with a way of conducting trials and proof of concepts without having to invest in hardware or software licenses. If an organisation wants to see how SharePoint works, they can try it out for minimal cost and risk.
  • Complementing our own Rapid Results packaged services offerings, which enable organisations to implement solutions such as SharePoint with a fixed scope and for a fixed price.
  • Grows the overall customer base for Microsoft, and raises the overall awareness of its offerings. Smaller organisations, in particular, now also have the opportunity to take advantage of some powerful solutions. And those organisations who outgrow the Online capabilities will be candidates for upgrades in the future – representing another opportunity for partners.
  • Demonstrating Microsoft is taking advantage of the cloud, particularly as more products, such as Dynamics CRM Online, are added, and the back-end infrastructure is migrated to Microsoft’s Windows Azure platform.

Developments such as these foreshadow an increasing move to the online delivery of products and services, by Microsoft and other vendors. Like any new technological wave, there are pros and cons – it’s up to organisations like Intergen to help our customers understand what these developments mean to them, and to take advantage of them where it makes sense

The move to offering hosted applications is a relatively new one for Microsoft, who will be the first to admit that, and we look forward to working with them to understand how these services fit into the local market, and what opportunities we can take advantage of.

Posted by: Tim Howell, Marketing Manager | 04 June 2009

Tags: BPOS

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