Dell Delivers Office 365 to SMB Customers
Dell (NASDAQ: DELL) will be taking the Microsoft Office 365 cloud service offering to its SMB customers as part of its growing portfolio of cloud services aimed at the small and midmarket, in ways likely competing with its channel partners but probably not having much of an impact on the channel, believes industry analyst Charles King of Pund-IT.
King, who is Pund-IT’s principal analyst, instead puts any channel conflict problems on the shoulders of Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) — really, where they belong, although the Redmond-based technology giant has acquiesced to certain channel demands recently at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2012.
Dell will be a provider of the entire Office 365 to its SMBs — including Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft Office Web Apps, Microsoft SharePoint and Microsoft Lync — enabling the cloud SaaS offerings from any Dell device, including smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops. In addition to this announcement, Dell also committed to 24x7x365 (presumably 366 during leap years?) customer support and services on almost any PC platform.
Part of this is possible because Microsoft has taken the iron fist control off of billing for Office 365, something that has been a common channel complaint since Microsoft first announced its Office 365 go-to-market strategy.
Dell’s Office 365 strategy is likely to have minimal impact on the channel.
“I’m not sure Dell’s decision to offer Office 365 in its cloud portfolio will result in any major impact on channel partners,” King told Talkin’ Cloud. “There may be some who offer Office installation/maintenance services, but I doubt that constitutes a huge part of their overall business. In fact, virtually all the decisions around Office 365 development and deployment are Microsoft issues. Dell’s just following Redmond’s lead here, so I expect potential conflicts largely or entirely end up in Microsoft’s lap.”
That said, King thinks there are some interesting opportunities for the channel, particularly in helping organizations sort out which Office 365 package is best for them, considering the richness of the various offerings.
Upon launch, Dell is offering Office 365 monthly subscription rates starting at $9 per month for what it calls the Small Business Plan. More pricing options and bundle packages will be available soon.