Microsoft Office, SaaS and Managed Services: Can You Combine All Three?

Microsoft Office, SaaS and Managed Services: Can You Combine All Three?

Microsoft Office SaaS and Managed ServicesIf you could provide Microsoft Office as a managed subscription service, would you do it? Before you answer, check out a new development from AllenPort Co. Apparently, the New Jersey-based company is working closely with Microsoft to connect the dots between Microsoft Office, Software as a Service (SaaS) and managed services.

AllenPort's flagship offering is the Virtual File Cabinet, which allows small businesses to:

"replace the office network by providing backup, remote access to files from any location, synchronization of any number of computers, file sharing, disaster recovery, and public and private directories ... all the while maintaining high security."
Building on that vision, AllenPort today announced a "strategic alliance with Microsoft" to:
"provide access to Microsoft Office as a subscription service through the AllenPort Virtual File Cabinet, reducing the upfront cost of acquiring these most essential software applications. By using AllenPort, businesses now have the ability to subscribe to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Exchange, and Access on any PC. AllenPort's hybrid Software as a Service "SaaS" model makes these applications and all the user's data available even when the user is offline."
In some ways, AllenPort's approach sounds similar to Google Apps and Zoho. Yes, Google and Zoho are aggressively reaching out to resellers. But I was impressed to see AllenPort reaching out directly to MSPs. In the AllenPort press release the company wrote:
"An MSP can now setup the IT for a small office: assign users, choose the software each member will need, and remotely deploy the applications in a structured file management system for an entire office, all in less than 15 minutes."

But Does It Work?

Ah, the wonder of marketing: Two hours ago, I had never heard of AllenPort. Now, news about their apparent relationship with Microsoft is going viral.

So, I'll offer up my usual words of caution: I haven't tested AllenPort's software. I don't know if they're a profitable, growing entity. And I find it curious that Microsoft wasn't quoted in the AllenPort press release.

When companies announce "strategic alliances" with Microsoft, press materials typically require close scrutiny by Microsoft's legal team. In this case, it looks like AllenPort went ahead and promoted the messaging solo.

Still, AllenPort has my attention. Office has a massive installed base. And the blending of Office with managed services and SaaS sounds like a legitimate opportunity for MSPs -- assuming the solution is viable, technically and financially.

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