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Monday, March 3, 2008

Microsoft to reveal its "cloudy" future

Several announcements are expected soon about Microsoft's plan for SaaS, hosted, cloud-compute, etc. product offerings. To date Microsoft has talked about a "software-plus-services" strategy that blends installed Windows desktop applications with a hosted component. This is a safe way to begin the process to embrace cloud compute without destroying the existing revenue pipeline of Vista, Office 2007 and Exchange.

We already know Microsoft has a service called Microsoft Online which offers managed PC desktops and will soon add hosted Exchange and Sharepoint to the menu. For quite a while now, Microsoft has been managing the desktops as a service provider for Energizer Holdings and XL Capital. Now smaller companies will be able to subscribe to these offerings.

It is still unclear where the channel partner fits in this new "direct to customer" world. Microsoft Online doesn't mean there is no role for its channel partners, but clearly something will have to change in this new SaaS-y world.

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