Cloud Services Providers Bet on Microsoft Lync, SharePoint
Even as Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) promotes its own cloud platforms (Office 365 and Windows Azure), cloud services providers (CSPs) and channel partners continue to launch Microsoft Lync, SharePoint, Dynamics CRM and Exchange in their own clouds. The moves suggest there’s still a growing, thriving market for third-party CSPs that offer Microsoft’s business applications in the cloud.
Among the latest examples:
1. ITUtility.NET, a cloud services provider in Canada, recently launched Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 as a multi-tenant cloud environment for partners. ITUtility already offers hosted Exchange to partners, and focuses on white label solutions for the IT channel.
2. NextUC has bet its business on hosted Lync, promoting cloud-based unified communications and VoIP. NextUC launched hosted Lync about 10 months ago, and claims to have offered 99.997 percent uptime so far.
3. Rackspace (NYSE: RAX) CEO Lanham Napier says hosted SharePoint customers “tend to be more loyal and faster-growing than our typical customer.” Napier made that statement during a Rackspace earnings call yesterday, while adding:
“We significantly doubled down on our SharePoint franchise in the quarter with the acquisition of privately-held SharePoint-911. As you may be aware, we have a strong and growing business running SharePoint environments for our customers. What you may not know is that SharePoint has been a great entry point through which we’re gaining more enterprise business.”
4. SIPCOM of Europe recently unveiled GSN (Global Services Network) 2.0, a commercial grade Microsoft Lync hosted platform. In a related move, SIPCOM is helping Microsoft to great the Microsoft Lync Hosted Pack Reference Architecture.
Evolving Office 365 Views
Meanwhile, a growing number of VARs and MSPs seem to be warming up to Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft’s various business applications. At the Kaseya Connect 2012 conference last week for VARs and MSPs, Infinity Technology Solutions CEO Terry Hedden suggested that Microsoft SharePoint was “the best gift Microsoft ever gave the channel” because there are so many opportunities to customize, integrate and extend SharePoint with various IT systems.
Instead of worrying about potentially thin margins reselling Office 365, Hedden is promoting Office 365 and focusing on these five cloud revenue opportunities: Consulting, planning and design, delivery, implementation, operation and management.
Top Cloud Software Provider?
Based on expanding relationships with CSPs, Microsoft Channel Chief Jon Roskill in March 2012 suggested that Microsoft is the top software provider to cloud services providers (CSPs). Some big software companies may debate that point, but the growing popularity of Lync and SharePoint, in particular, among CSPs is an interesting trend.