A heads up to European VARs and MSPs looking to get into the SaaS (software as a service) market. You've got new competition from Orange Business Services, the managed communication services arm of European communication giant France Telecom. Orange has been granted "approved reseller" status for Microsoft Online Services. It's a significant move from two huge companies. Here's some perspective.
Known as Equant until 2006, Orange Business Services is one of the biggest players in the European channel, providing communications and collaboration solutions to large organizations. By reselling Microsoft products, they can add a huge range of industry standard solutions to their portfolio, from BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite) to Exchange Online to instant messaging.
According to an Orange Business Services spokesperson, they plan on packaging the full suite of Microsoft online tools as a complete solution, supporting it end-to-end from integration advice to after-sales. They'll even help their clients deploy Microsoft Online Services in a hybrid cloud model.
For Microsoft's part, this deal lets them get their hooks into new and bigger businesses. Orange has a global infrastructure already in place ready for the Redmond giant to leverage.
MSPs Flying Under the Radar?This seems to be a bad news/good news scenario. The bad news is: European Microsoft resellers now have a huge and well-funded rival competing for business. The good news: Orange Business Services really don't sound interested in selling this package to anything less than a Global 2000 company.
Microsoft is building similar relationships across the globe. Microsoft and Computer Sciences Corp. in November 2009 won a massive BPOS and cloud deal involving UK's Royal Mail Group.
Meanwhile, there's plenty of additional SaaS and managed services activity across Europe. Intermedia recently launched hosted Exchange 2010 in the UK. The EuroCloud organization is promoting cloud and SaaS services across Europe. We’re also tracking Acer-Gateway; the PC maker has been working with Level Platforms to promote managed services across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA).