Microsoft is seeking new ways to bolster its cloud services and managed services momentum with VARs and MSPs. Among the scenarios unfolding: Microsoft will likely seek to build closer cloud- and MSP-related relationships with MSP coaching organizations and channel peer groups. One potential target: TruMethods, MSPmentor believes.
Among Microsoft's core priorities: Promoting Windows Intune, a cloud-based PC management platform, to MSPs. In recent days, Windows Intune US Product Marketing Manager Asha Sharma met with TruMethods President Gary Pica, according to a tweet from Sharma.
Is something brewing between Microsoft and TruMethods? I can't say for sure. I've reached out to TruMethods and Microsoft for comment. And of course, casual business meetings happen all the time in the IT channel.
Windows Intune and Office 365 for PartnersStill, I have a strong suspicion that Microsoft will seek to improve its cloud services and managed services relationships through coaching organizations and peer groups this year. Among Microsoft's challenges:
1. Windows Intune: Less than 2 percent of top MSPs are using Windows Intune to remotely manage PCs, according to our fifth-annual MSPmentor 100 survey (complete results will surface in February 2012). Admittedly, Windows Intune is only a year old -- which may explain the low adoption figure among MSPs.
However, I believe Windows Intune's appeal to VARs and MSPs has been somewhat limited because most MSPs already have remote management tools in place. Plus Windows Intune focuses purely on Windows PCs and doesn't support Mac OS X, Apple iOS, Google Android, Linux and servers. And Microsoft ultimately controls pricing for Windows Intune.
2. Office 365: According to our MSPmentor 100 survey, an impressive 42.9 percent of top MSPs say they partner with Microsoft on Office 365, the SaaS platform that includes Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and more. But I suspect the figure is inflated; lots of VARs and MSPs are kicking Office 365's tires, but some channel partners are concerned about Microsoft controlling customer pricing and customer billing. Also, Office 365 lacks phone support for small business customers -- though that could present an opportunity for channel partners to remain customers' preferred help desk.
What's Microsoft's next cloud and managed services move in the IT channel? I'm betting it involves potential relationships with TruMethods and other coaching/peer group organizations.