Big Microsoft Cloud Wins: Partners Included?

Apparently, it's a red-letter week for Microsoft Online Services and the software giant's All In cloud strategy. Specifically, Microsoft says The Dow Chemical Co., Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, and the University of Georgia have all inked deals to embrace Microsoft-powered productivity and collaboration cloud solutions. The big question: Will partners play a role in the SaaS engagements?

Dow Chemical and Hyatt will both migrate their enterprise users to Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS), which includes Microsoft Exchange Online, Office Communications Online and SharePoint Online.While Microsoft’s press release doesn’t indicate how many BPOS seats Dow Chemical will deploy BPOS to, we know that Hyatt purchased as many as 57,000 BPOS licenses.

“Many people working in our hotels aren’t available full time at their desks, but still need access to the same e-mail, instant messaging and other collaboration tools as the rest of our employees,” said Mike Blake, CIO at Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, in a prepared statement.

The University of Georgia, on the other hand, is moving its 85,000 students, faculty, and staff to Microsoft [email protected], a no-cost browser-based solution enabling documents, messaging, and calendars in the cloud. Of course, all facets of the [email protected] offering are based on ubiquitous Microsoft applications like Outlook and Office.

These are all major customer wins for Microsoft -- and being able to announce all three on the same day is just icing on the cake, though there's no mention of channel partners within any of the three wins.

Recent Progress

Still, Microsoft has been making cloud headway in the enterprise space lately, in both the public and private sectors.

Microsoft says its cloud customer base now includes:
  • 13 of the top 20 global telecom firms
  • 15 of the top 20 global banks
  • 16 of the top 20 global pharmaceutical companies.
  • Plus, more than 10,000 customers have embraced Windows Azure (Microsoft's Windows cloud platform) in the past nine months.
Meanwhile, Google Apps hasn’t announced any major customer wins in the last month or so and the last update on the City of Los Angeles migration wasn’t exactly exuberant.

Does that mean Microsoft is making competitive progress against Google?

BPOS Partner Reality Check

Frankly, it's difficult to track market share numbers. And besides, we're more interested to learn whether partners -- including MSPs -- are participating in Microsoft SaaS and Google Apps customer wins.

During the recent Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2010 (WPC10), held July 2010 in Washington, D.C., Microsoft claimed more than 16,000 partners were now supporting BPOS. But when pressed, Microsoft conceded that only 8,000 of those partners had two or more BPOS customer wins.

We're curious to know how many of those BPOS partners have gained critical mass -- for instance, how many have sold 1,000 or more BPOS seats, or how many have 50 or more BPOS customers?

We'll keep digging for answers on the partner front. But we're also aware of market realities. Partners that expect Microsoft's cloud strategy to be all channel, all the time might be out of touch. Without an extensive direct sales team, we suspect Microsoft wouldn't be able to compete against Google, Salesforce.com and other pure online players.

Additional reporting by Joe Panettieri. Sign up for MSPmentor’s weekly Enewsletter, Webcasts and Resource Center. And follow us via RSS, Facebook, Identi.ca; and Twitter. Plus, check out more MSP voices at www.MSPtweet.com.


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