Microsoft BPOS: SaaS Debate Continues Among MSPs

Microsoft BPOS: SaaS Debate Continues Among MSPs

The debate continues. Can managed services providers (MSPs) really profit from Microsoft BPOS? Or is Business Productivity Online Suite a SaaS Trojan Horse -- allowing Microsoft to grab hold of your customers and never let go? Here are the two most recent sides to the story.

For those arriving late to the debate, BPOS includes Microsoft's core SaaS applications -- Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and Office Communications Online. Some VARs and MSPs think BPOS is a fast way to profit from SaaS. Others worry about slim margins and potentially losing account control to Microsoft.

Keeping Score

The BPOS debate continued today during a SaaS webcast hosted by The VAR Guy (MSPmentor's sister site).
  • On one side of the fence, Rich Anderson, president of Next Level Cafe, said he's absolutely leveraging BPOS as a SaaS system for his customers. Instead of pitching BPOS as a big profit opportunity, Anderson said Microsoft's SaaS offerings deliver automation -- freeing up solutions providers to focus on higher value-added services. "We're selling BPOS all over the place," said Anderson. "Pushing it to our managed services clients, too."
  • On the other side of the fence, Ted Passalacqua, president and CEO of Strategic Micro, firmly stated that he views BPOS as competition from Microsoft, since Microsoft ultimately controls billing, branding and other key variables for BPOS. Plus, Microsoft sells BPOS direct as well.
The BPOS debate won't be ending anytime soon. On April 8, HTG Peer Groups and ConnectWise will be involved in a private call for about 25 managed services providers. The title: "Making Money with BPOS." Steve Weiler (Anderson's business partner at Next Level Cafe) is hosting the call.

Got a Strategy?

Regardless of where you sit, I think MSPs need to spend some time with BPOS. I do see some competitive risks around BPOS, but MSPs can't afford to simply ignore the Microsoft platform. Whether you partner up with Microsoft or compete with Microsoft in the SaaS market, you're going to need to communicate clear, consistent recommendations to your customers.

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