Microsoft Polishes its Managed Services Brands

Forgive me if I'm a little confused. I've read a ton about Microsoft Office Live and Office Online over the past year. Sometimes, it's a little tricky to understand exactly how Microsoft's managed services and SaaS (software as a service) offerings are positioned. But the answer is finally emerging.

The quick answer, apparently, is Office Online will target larger enterprises while Office Live Small Business will target the small biz market, according to details posted here.

Either way, solutions providers remain nervous that Microsoft's online software efforts will circumvent the channel. But I've got to be honest: I'm defending Microsoft on this one. In some cases, customers will surely prefer to purchased managed services and SaaS directly from a vendor. Such is the case over at Salesforce.com. In other cases, managed services are best offered through partners -- especially when it comes to ongoing network management, security and administration.

But this is truly a case-by-case situation. Instead of getting upset with Microsoft, solutions providers should get used to good old coopetition -- as former Novell CEO Ray Noorda used to call it.

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