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Office 365: Will Distributors Resell Microsoft's Cloud Apps?

The VAR Guy

June 15, 2011

3 Min Read
Office 365: Will Distributors Resell Microsoft's Cloud Apps?

Microsoft is set to launch the Office 365 cloud suite on June 28. Sure, VARs and MSPs can resell the cloud suite directly from Microsoft but those partners can’t control end-customer billing. With that challenge in mind The VAR Guy wonders: Will distributors like Ingram Micro, Tech Data and Synnex provide Office 365 customer billing capabilities to channel partners? Here’s the update and the speculation.

By now, most readers know Office 365 is the successor to Microsoft BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite). It includes Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and a boatload of additional applications, with prices starting at $6 per user per month. VARs and MSPs can earn nominal recurring revenues reselling Office 365 but Microsoft — at least so far — will not permit channel partners to manage the end-customer billing process.

That’s where distributors enter the picture. During the recent TruMethods Schnizzfest conference, at least one expert in the audience said Synnex will offer Office 365 end-customer billing capabilities to channel partners. The VAR Guy is checking in with Synnex, Ingram Micro and Tech Data to see if any — or all — of the distributors plan to offer Office 365, and how end-customer billing will be managed.

Meanwhile, keep a close eye on both Parallels and Jamcracker. Here’s why:

  • Parallels provides the SaaS foundation for a Tech Data cloud deployment in Europe. And at least one U.S.-based distributor is about to use Parallels for a similar SaaS initiative, The VAR Guy has learned. Moreover, Parallels is working with Microsoft on so-called Office 365 syndication strategies. The idea is for major service providers — perhaps distributors? — to use Parallels as a means to fetch Office 365 services from Microsoft’s data centers. As part of the Microsoft syndication strategy, The VAR Guy believes service providers will be able to offer Office 365 billing capabilities.

  • Jamcracker is a veteran of the ASP (application service provider) era. The company has been busy reinventing itself, and Jamcracker now serves as the foundation for Ingram Micro Cloud Marketplace, a procurement system that will allow VARs and MSPs to select from numerous SaaS applications, set prices and manage end-customer billing. Just a hunch but The VAR Guy believes the Ingram Micro Cloud Marketplace will eventually offer Office 365 in some format.

Admittedly, The VAR Guy is yet to hear from Ingram Micro, Tech Data, Synnex and other distributors regarding their Office 365 strategies. Ingram Micro VP of Managed Services and Cloud Computing Renee Bergeron has previously stated that Ingram will offer Office 365. In what capacity? The VAR Guy is checking…

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