Microsoft is aggressively pursuing business relationships with cable companies as it strives to strengthen its software as a service (SaaS) strategy, MSPmentor has learned. If it secures partnerships with cable companies, Microsoft could wind up competing with some managed service providers that offer hosted Exchange Server systems to small businesses.
Microsoft announced its updated SaaS strategy in March. Since that time, Microsoft has reached out to at least three major cable companies in an attempt to convert them to hosted versions of of Exchange Server email, among other applications. "They're offering some very aggressive pricing and consulting services to get us to roll out hosted email to our customers," said one senior IT executive from a major US cable company.
The executive, who requested anonymity, says his company is leaning toward testing Microsoft's entire suite of hosted applications as a potential offering for consumers and small business owners.
Bracing for CoopetitionMicrosoft's effort to transform cable companies into SaaS providers underscores how MSPs will need to cooperate and compete with the software giant.
On the one hand, Microsoft has been among the most partner- and channel-centric software companies for more than two decades.
But on the other hand, old software development and distribution models are crumbling. As Microsoft strives to compete against open source and SaaS leaders like Google and Salesforce.com, the company will need to give customers the option to buy direct or through partners.
Microsoft's growing portfolio of SaaS applications has attracted a growing network of partners. Ingram Micro earlier this month announced plans to offer hosted versions of Exchange, Microsoft Dynamics and Microsoft SharePoint to its Seismic partners.
Meanwhile, MSPs are buying up some of Microsoft's partners, in a bid to corner the market for emerging SaaS applications. Check the MSPmentor Merger and Acquisition Tracker for ongoing deals.