Microsoft Preparing Small Business SaaS?
Microsoft has its head in the clouds again. This time, the news involves a small business version of BPOS — Business Productivity Online Suite. The original BPOS lineup includes Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and other hosted applications. Now comes word that Microsoft is planning some sort of BPOS Lite offering for small businesses. The question: Will VARs be involved in the effort? The early buzz says “Yes.”
First, some details and a tip of the hat. Mary Jo Foley’s AllAboutMicrosoft blog broke the BPOS Lite story earlier today. The BPOS Lite chatter comes the very day Microsoft officially launches paid Windows Azure services, the cloud platform for ISVs, partners and customers. Plus, Microsoft recently launched a SaaS partnership with Intuit — which has a strong hold on the small business accounting market.
So, where does BPOS Lite fit in? According to Foley:
Microsoft is working on such an offering, however, that insiders currently refer to as “BPOS Lite.” Unlike BPOS, which is managed by Microsoft, BPOS Lite sounds as if it will be managed by partners.
Hmmm…. Some solutions providers applaud the current BPOS offerings as a way for channel partners to test the SaaS waters. But other partners worry Microsoft will squeeze SaaS margins with continued price cuts.
The VAR Guy suspects BPOS Lite details could emerge at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) 2010, scheduled for July in Washington, D.C. In the meantime, our resident blogger is checking in with Microsoft partners that already host Exchange, SharePoint and other applications. Will they welcome — or reject — BPOS Lite? Lots of questions… and not that many answers at the moment.