Microsoft Online Services: SaaS Pricing, Partner Strategy Announced

Microsoft has announced pricing and partner details for Microsoft Online Services -- the company's software as a service (SaaS) product portfolio. At the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Houston, the company also pushed downstream with entry-level SaaS offerings for so-called "deskless workers" who don't spend much time on computers but still need to collaborate with peers.

Here's a quick overview of the product portfolio, and the implications for managed service providers.

Microsoft Online Services include Microsoft Exchange Online, Microsoft Office SharePoint Online, Microsoft Office Communications Online, Microsoft Office Live Meeting, and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.

The new Exchange Online Deskless Worker and SharePoint Online Deskless Worker starts at $3 per user per month. According to a Microsoft press release, the solution includes e-mail, calendars, global address lists, anti-virus and anti-spam filters, as well as Outlook Web Access Light for access to company e-mail. SharePoint Online Deskless Worker gives employees read-only access to corporate SharePoint portals. A higher-end version of the suite -- for so-called information workers -- costs $15 per user per month.

So, where do partners enter the financial picture? According to Microsoft:

Partners that sell Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite, Deskless Worker Suite or any of their components receive 12 percent of the first-year contract price and 6 percent of the subscription fee ongoing. This can translate into 18 percent of the subscription value in the first year of the partner’s relationship with the customer.
Partners that want more info can visit http://www.quickstartonlineservices.com.

I'm still not sure about Microsoft's partner pricing model for Exchange Online, Dynamics CRM Online and other higher-end solutions. But I'll be poking around this week to find more answers.

The Bottom Line

Microsoft will surely make its share of mistakes as it pushes into the SaaS market. And in some cases, the software giant will wind up competing with partners. I've taken my shots at Microsoft over the years, but in this case I do believe the company will be working overtime to engage partners with its SaaS opportunities.

As MSPmentor stated earlier today, there are at least five reasons why Microsoft will ultimately get its SaaS strategy in order.
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