Is There Room for Partners in Microsoft's Software + Service Model?

Ann All

I blogged last month about Google's decision to slash prices for Postini's e-mail monitoring services, a move that seemed to strain relations with resellers of the SMB-oriented services because it will cut into their revenue streams.


Turns out that Google's nemesis, Microsoft, isn't exactly earning raves from its resellers. Microsoft's recent decision to offer Web-hosted versions of Exchange and SharePoint Server directly to SMBs, a customer demographic that has typically been served by its sales partners, is seen as a slap in the face by some, reports CRN.


Microsoft partner Vlad Mazek doesn't mince words in a recent blog post linked to in a CRN article. He writes:

Moves like this make me realize that I am no longer in a partnership with Microsoft, but just sending them money so they can crush me faster. Microsoft got to where it's at by working with partners, but now their "giving more choices to the customers" means "getting more ways to work with the end user directly without the middleman."

The article includes comments from resellers who agree with Mazek, as well as some who don't believe Microsoft's move will negatively affect their business. Says solution provider Ric Opal:

There are still going to be opportunities for VARs to add value in areas like guidance and how to secure the services. Software + services may amount to a revenue shift for us, but it won't matter, because the revenue will still be there.

Software + services is what Microsoft is calling its version of SaaS. Its intent is to allow customers to choose from among three ways to access its services: a traditional on-premise model, hosted by a reseller, or hosted by Microsoft itself.

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