When Office 2010 ships, Microsoft will blur the lines between on-premise and Software as a Service (SaaS) productivity suites. A case in point: Office Web -- the "lightweight Web browser versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote" -- will be available for customers to host on their own. Smart move -- but where do managed service providers fit in the picture?
First, the official news: During the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2009 (WPC09), Microsoft said:
"Office Web applications will be available in three ways: through Windows Live, where more than 400 million consumers will have access to Office Web applications at no cost; on-premises for all Office volume licensing customers including more than 90 million Office annuity customers; and via Microsoft Online Services, where customers will be able to purchase a subscription as part of a hosted offering."It's a rather interesting move, considering some competitive settings:
- Google continues to host Google Apps on its own, and has also designed the Google Apps reseller program to channel partners.
- Zoho is hosting its productivity applications for customers. But in Asia, some third-party service providers are hosting Zoho for customers.
The VAR Guy's spin: Sounds like Microsoft doesn't plan to allow partners to host Office Web directly. But stay tuned. The VAR Guy wonders if Microsoft will change its tune as large service providers -- particularly those that support K-12 schools and universities -- increasingly offer SaaS to customers.
In the meantime, some VARs and managed service providers have found ways to offer Microsoft Office as a subscription service to customers. A prime example involves AllenPort of New Jersey.
The VAR Guy blogs daily on his own site. Follow MSPmentor via RSS, Facebook, Identi.ca and Twitter. Subscribe to our Enewsletter, Webcasts and Resource Center.