July 5, 2011
When Microsoft Office 365 officially debuted June 28, Talkin’ Cloud couldn’t help but notice that Microsoft didn’t say much about the Office 365 Marketplace and the Windows Azure cloud platform. Short term all three cloud solutions remain in their infancy. But long term we suspect Microsoft is going to help partners connect the dots between Office 365, the Office 365 Marketplace and Windows Azure.
No doubt, Microsoft has its hands full right now with Office 365 — which includes Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Lync Online and Microsoft Office. Monthly per-user prices start at about $2, though Microsoft’s SMB push starts at about $6 per user per month.
Even as Microsoft markets Office 365 in airports and on billboards, the company’s technology team is taking a conservative approach to Office 365 — even blocking established BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite) customers from migrating to Office 365. BPOS is Office 365’s predecessor.
Meanwhile, Microsoft said little — if anything — about the Office 365 Marketplace during the Office 365 launch in June. That surprised Talkin’ Cloud. Within the Office 365 Marketplace, software partners and integrators can promote their solutions to end-customers. As of June 21, the Office 365 Marketplace had grown to about 174 partners. Today (July 5, 2011), the marketplace has 305 companies — including 229 listings for professional services partners and 218 listings for application partners.
Now here’s where things get extra interesting. Microsoft also is developing Windows Azure, a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) that can host third-party applications. From giants like CA Technologies to upstarts like Quosal, numerous companies are launching their SaaS applications in the Windows Azure Cloud.
Near term, I believe Windows Azure faces an up-hill battle. In some cases, Microsoft is paying ISVs (independent software vendors) to port their applications into Windows Azure, Talkin’ Cloud has heard. But we do expect Azure to gain a critical mass of third-party SaaS applications.
SaaS Triple Play?
For Microsoft partners it’s getting easier to see potential synergies between Microsoft’s various cloud platforms. One simple example: Launch a SaaS application on Azure, promote it in the Office 365 Marketplace, and offer integration services to the core Office 365 suite.
We wonder if or when Microsoft will begin promoting those potential synergies to channel partners. And we’ll go searching for answers starting July 10 at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2011 (WPC11) in Los Angeles.
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