Friday, September 11, 2009

Finally available

Microsoft and Telstra have finally made the Microsoft Business Productivity Suite (BPOS) available in Australia. This means that people can now obtain Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint, Live Meeting and Office Communicator as hosted applications. It also means that providers like myself can sell the suite to customers and earn some commission. Gotta say this has been a long time coming but I can’t tell you how glad I am that it has finally arrived.

I see BPOS as being the early days of the way things are now heading. Most encouraging is that it allows me to sell solutions to customers without the constraints of geography anymore. In a few recent presentations I’ve given I’ve told other resellers they should be afraid of something like BPOS because it means that I’m coming to their market and their customers. I say this with the full knowledge that exactly the same is possible in my market space because this is what the new world order of cloud computing brings. It means a completely new business model. It means you face a greater number of competitors but it also provides you with greater opportunities to reach new markets as well. The only question is whether you will exploit the opportunities presented or simply react when the competition arrives on your shores.

As I have said before I believe the killer app for BPOS will be Live Meeting, simply because it is something that is going to provide real benefits for most customers who have never had access to technology like this. They will be able to conduct remote meetings, present sales demonstrations and importantly record them for repeat use. How powerful is that going to be to a business to provide a video presentation of their products and allow people to view it on demand?

Of course the other huge potential I see is for SharePoint, given that so few people are aware of the benefits it can provide. Another great opportunity will be the ability of SharePoint to provide templated solutions, that can be developed and then resold many times over. Combine that with something like OneNote and you have a really great collaboration solution as the Pfizer case study demonstrates.

Perhaps another benefit that BPOS provides resellers is environment standardization. This means that every BPOS implementation of SharePoint say is identical. Everything is always in the same place, the software is always at the same version and so on. How many times is this the case between different client sites? Almost never. Having a completely standard environment not only makes it much easier to support but means that I can develop standards and procedures that allow others to easily implement the administration while I can concentrate on the higher return work.

As I have detailed in a previous blog post I am always encouraged when other resellers ignore or are hostile to SharePoint because it simply means more opportunity for my business. It provides me an opening with their clients that I can now exploit no matter where they are in the world. In the end I see BPOS not only providing greater opportunities but also simplifying the ability to deploy and support solutions for customers. Isn’t that what we’re all really after?