Microsoft's BPOS: Partner Opportunities Ahead

Microsoft BPOSWhen it comes to understanding Microsoft's SaaS (software as a service) strategy, there are only four letters managed service providers need to know: BPOS, short for Business Productivity Online Suite. Most of Microsoft's major SaaS applications fit under the BPOS umbrella, and the software giant has started evangelizing BPOS opportunities to MSPs. Now, the big question: Is BPOS a real opportunity for channel partners?

In case you're not familiar with BPOS, the SaaS product family includes Microsoft Exchange Online, Microsoft Office SharePoint Online, Microsoft Office Live Meeting, and Microsoft Office Communications Online. Eager to accelerate BPOS deployments, Microsoft produced the following video -- which shows partners and customers how to set up a BPOS trial account.

Who's Profiting From BPOS?

In a press release issued April 27, Microsoft highlighted four specific partners that seem to be profiting from BPOS:
  • PointBridge, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner based in Chicago, has sold more than 3,000 seats of Microsoft Online Services, which generated over $100,000 in advisor fee revenue in just four months.
  • Solvi, an IT solutions provider in the Milan, Italy, area, expects to expand its customer base by 50 percent, and reduce deployment times from one month to one day.
  • Tam Tam, a full-service Internet agency in the Netherlands, expects to double its customer base and boost revenues by at least 15 percent by expanding its offerings with Microsoft Online Services.
  • Zipper, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner in Stockholm, Sweden, expects to increase revenues by $10 million annually with its Microsoft Online Services offering, which it can implement 10 times faster than on-premises software today.
Of course, the partner info above came directly from Microsoft. So MSPs should do their homework and check in directly with BPOS partners in the months ahead to see how the online software suite performs in the market. Also, to keep tabs on the BPOS strategy, I recommend reading two blogs:
In one recent entry, Mike described how BPOS partners "get marketing resources, training, and access to Microsoft lead-generation engines." That last little tidbit -- the lead-generation mention -- certainly caught my attention. I'm curious to know if Microsoft is funneling BPOS opportunities out to partners.

The Jury Is Out

Whether you're dealing with Microsoft or another software provider, SaaS partner programs remain works in progress.

During the 2009 HTG Summit in Dallas last week, ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini recommended that MSPs get started with SaaS and cloud computing by reserving rack space at a local Web hosting provider, and launching hosted Exchange or something similar for customers.

But some MSPs are thinking bigger. Much bigger. Instead of leveraging BPOS directly from Microsoft, MSPs such as Azaleos are launching their own managed SharePoint services for customers.

Will more partners opt instead to work directly with Microsoft BPOS? We'll be watching.

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