Microsoft’s decision to launch a Syndication Partner programme in the UK for its Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) has been greeted with caution by the channel.
The product suite provides users with access to cloud-based versions of Microsoft Exchange, Sharepoint, Office Live Meeting and Office Communications.
The vendor has come in for some criticism since the launch of BPOS because of the way it bills partners’ customers directly for using its services.
This has raised fears that Microsoft might attempt to use that information to bypass the channel in delivering BPOS at a later date.
From now on, VARs that supply BPOS through a hosting provider with a Syndication Partner accreditation will not have to hand over their customers’ details to Microsoft, as they will be billed directly by the hosting provider instead.
Bristol-based hosting provider intY is the first in Europe to acquire BPOS Syndication Partner status.
In a statement released by the firm, Mark Herbert, business development director at intY, confirmed that by partnering with the them, resellers would retain ownership and control of their customer relationships.
“Our BPOS syndication agreement allows us to take Microsoft Online Services to our channel partners in a different way, enabling them to seamlessly combine them with cloud products from other vendors and their own services.
“We are signing up partners who are focused on mid-size and larger enterprises and, because of our collaboration with Microsoft, we are able to provide improved margins, sales support and incentives.”
Talking to CRN from the vendor’s partner summit in Washington, Microsoft’s director for strategy and programmes Clare Barclay said intY was the “first of many" hosting providers the firm hopes to make BPOS Syndication Partners in the future.
“Hosting providers have been very successful at driving uptake and growth of BPOS,” she said. “By becoming a Syndication Partner, it allows hosting providers to integrate BPOS into their own offerings. So it is more of a go-to-market strategy than a programmatic one.”
Adam Smith, a director at Microsoft hosting provider xe2, said he thinks the introduction of the Syndication partner status would be welcomed by VARs.
“It is probably an acknowledgement by Microsoft that not as many customers have flocked on to the platform as they would like, and that is because partners have not been very keen on pushing it on them.”
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