Microsoft Lync: Gaining Momentum with Partners, Customers?

Microsoft Lync: Gaining Momentum with Partners, Customers?

Anecdotal evidence suggests Microsoft Lync -- the unified communications platform -- continues to gain momentum. For instance, both Volkswagen Group of America and LA Fitness have rolled out Lync, the software giant says. Plus, the Microsoft Pinpoint partner locator tool now lists at least 100 Lync channel partners across the U.S. My bigger question: Can MSPs somehow generate recurring revenues from Lync?

First, the dollars and cents. Despite Microsoft's challenges in the desktop, mobile and tablet markets, the software giant continues to gain momentum in the server application business. Indeed, Microsoft Lync, Dynamics CRM, SharePoint and Exchange drove roughly 30 percent of Microsoft's business division growth last year.

Plus, Lync is available as part of Office 365 -- Microsoft's cloud application suite. I'm not exactly crazy about Microsoft's Office 365 partner program, in which Microsoft controls customer pricing and customer billing. Plus, the full-blown Lync PBX isn't available in Microsoft's cloud -- at least not yet.

Still, I'm watching to see how third-party service providers host and sell Lync services to their customers. Intermedia, for one, recently launched a "secure" Microsoft Lync service in the cloud. And MSPs such as Azaleos now offer managed Lync services.

My best guess: Lync will soon become Microsoft's next $1 billion server application business -- following in the footsteps of Exchange Server and SharePoint (I don't have a feel for Dynamics CRM annual revenues, however).

We all know that hosted Exchange margins have spiraled downward in recent years. And the SharePoint market is now flooded consultants, ISVs and MSPs that offer development services and managed services. I suspect there's an 18 month opportunity for MSPs to develop Lync consulting, deployment and managed services practices that are highly profitable. But the competition is coming and the clock is ticking...

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