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A Software Plus Services Strategy for Partners?

If you're worried about how Microsoft's software-as-a-service strategy will affect you as a partner, you're not alone. Robert Deshaies, vice president of the Microsoft U.S. Partner Group, says figuring out how to create partner programs around SaaS is one of the topics that keep him up at night.

Talking to partners during his opening keynote at Redmond Channel Partner magazine's TechPartner conference in Orlando on Wednesday, Deshaies said Microsoft will be providing a lot more clarity on its SaaS strategy for partners at the Worldwide Partner Conference in Denver, July 10-12.

Deshaies provided a few hints on Wednesday, however. For example, the "Software Plus Services" name that Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie started using at TechEd last year (instead of the industry term, "software as a service") appears to have stuck at Microsoft.

"You're going to see Microsoft brand [SaaS] a little differently," Deshaies explained.

It's not just to change the name, though, he added. Software Plus Services gets at how Microsoft will approach SaaS -- namely, offer three different deployment models: 1) on-site deployment; 2) on-site deployments augmented by services in the cloud; and 3) completely in the cloud (either hosted by a partner or hosted by Microsoft).

Analysts at IDC recently said it's critical for Microsoft and other big vendors to announce SaaS strategies this year, because partners in nearly all channels are pushing so hard for answers. So let's hope Redmond follows through with those Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference details.

In the meantime, it happens that we recently published a feature looking at Microsoft's Dynamics CRM "Titan" plans for clues to Microsoft's SaaS strategy. Here's what we found:

  1. Microsoft will adopt a blended approach (on-site, hosted, and mixed).
  2. Microsoft's first moves will involve following others into established markets.
  3. Microsoft will make a serious effort to haul partners along.
  4. Some partners will be hurt.
  5. Opportunities will open up for other partners.

See the full article about those plans here: http://rcpmag.com/features/article.aspx?editorialsid=694.

Posted by Scott Bekker on March 28, 2007 at 11:57 AM