Office 365 Open: One-Year Global Cloud Billing Rollout?
Microsoft Office 365 Open, which allows partners and VARs to manage end-customer cloud billing, will be available internationally before July 2013, a spokeswoman said. The statement shows Microsoft’s commitment to supporting all channel partners evenly, worldwide, in the cloud. But it also reveals that it could take Microsoft up to a year to get partners fully up to speed with the customer billing technology.
The company announced the Office 365 Open option this week at Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2012 (WPC12). At the time, Microsoft received high praise and cheers from 16,000 partners in the audience. Office 365 still sounds like a good step in the right direction. But plenty of questions remain about the partner-led billing policies, and Microsoft hasn’t said much about the nitty-gritty details.
Some of the questions come in from Australia, where some partners feel the Microsoft-Telstra Office 365 syndication agreement locks potential channel partners out of the market. I don’t know if or how Office 365 Open will change the Australia cloud market. But Office 365 Open is going international, so we’ll be watching to see if or how their are changes to how the cloud suite gets distributed in Australia.
Ironically, Microsoft is playing catch-up in some ways to Google Apps — which already allows partners to manage end-customer billing for cloud services. Also big distributors (like Ingram Micro Cloud) offer so-called cloud aggregation services to VARs and MSPs that want a single online mall for selecting and managing cloud apps.