Microsoft claims the launch of Office 365, the latest version of its cloud-based productivity suite, could open up opportunities for partners in the SMB market.
The product is being ushered in as a replacement for the vendor's Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) and will feature online versions of Microsoft Exchange, Sharepoint, Office and Lync.
Speaking to ChannelWeb, Simon Gautrey, software-plus-services lead at Microsoft, tipped SMB as a lucrative market for Office 365 partners.
"In the UK alone there are 3.9 million small businesses and many of them are looking for ways to evolve their technology solutions," he explained. "I think the biggest opportunity [for the product] is the SMB market."
At last week's CRN Partner Connect event in Coventry, Microsoft revealed that more than 17,000 end users and partners have participated in the beta testing for Office 365.
The feedback received from Microsoft partners who participated in the trial has added weight to his SMB observation, added Gautrey.
"Some of the feedback from partners is that it provides smaller customers with a level of technology they have previously not had access to," he said.
Gautrey also claims that Microsoft partners that have not worked out what role cloud will play in their future still have some time to make decisions.
"From this point forward, and over the next 12 months, I think we are going to start seeing a big ramp-up in end users adopting cloud services," he said.
"For existing Microsoft partners, this is a great time to start talking to their customers about the benefits of these new technologies."
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