The business case for Office-as-a-Service

San Francisco – Office-as-a-Service is going to change the conversation for both customers and the channel, according to P.J. Hough, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Office division.

“The way we dialogue with Office has to change. No more will there be a box in the store. The product is being improved all the time now and streamed onto your computer. This new Office is in the cloud; personalized for you and streamed to you,” Hough said.

Hough announced that the solution provider channel can develop apps in an internal store or repository and make them available to customer employees. One immediate change because of Office-as-a-Service will be with SharePoint. Hough said SharePoint apps can come in a 10 user license pack or 100 user license pack. “This change is important because of workflow and it will also give back some control to the IT department. The IT department can now manage those who go to the internal IT store because sometimes the app is just for a few people or whatever is applicable,” Hough said.Hough told CDN that he sees two areas of growth for the global channel immediately with Office-as-a-Service.

The first is with solution providers who have a developer practice. Hough believes this channel will have broad reach and be able to generate new business by offering free trial then pay apps. Hough said that customers today are looking to try apps on trial versions to see if the work in their environment.

The second opportunity is for managed services providers and cloud brokers. Hough said that internal developers at these channel organizations should target customers with custom-built apps specifically for vertical markets or industries. Usually, Hough said, these channel partners know the industry they serve and have built up a considerable amount of expertise for these vertical markets. “They know the target market and can price it accordingly and put it into their own apps store,” Hough said.

Adis Tucakovic, Advanced Infrastructure Practice Lead for Toronto-based solution provider Navantis Inc., said when applications are delivered through a cloud based delivery model, the big user benefit is the seamless experience and anywhere access across a variety of devices.

“In this model however, two pillars are critical to ensure that the experience is truly seamless. The first is cloud based storage for anywhere access and the second is rich offline capability. Office 15 provides that rich integration experience and seamless access with SkyDrive and Office 365. We are excited by the possibilities for our clients,” Tucakovic said.

Randy Clemens, Managing Director of Redwood Global Inc., a Toronto-based technology consulting and staffing organization, has been beta testing the new Office-as-a-Service and said the Office 15 apps roams with you because of SkyDrive. “It doesn’t matter where you are; they are at your finger tips,” Clemens said.

He added that the staffing company does a lot of interviewing and meetings and Lync enables the team at Redwood Global to ramp up quickly in terms of the screening and qualifying process before they have to deploy resources. “Lync makes us work faster and this is key in our industry,” Clemens said.

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Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Former editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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