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Microsoft touts channel-ready hosted services

by Stuart Wilson, Tuesday 8 July 2008

Software giant Microsoft is making some serious noise around channel-ready services hosted by service providers at its worldwide partner conference. Private label distributors Smarthost and Groupspark are deploying new Microsoft-based services, enabling the reseller channel to expand their portfolio of hosted services and providing greater choices for resellers as they go to market with software plus services.

Smarthost, one of the fastest-growing private-label distributors of software plus services in Europe, announced it will deploy the Microsoft solution for hosted messaging and collaboration (HMC) version 4.5 and Microsoft connected services framework to help ISVs create software-plus-service offerings.

The new offerings will be sold through Smarthost’s network of VARs and service providers as a cost-effective and simple way to quickly reach new markets. It is also claimed that these solutions will further enable Smarthost’s resellers to rapidly deliver hosted services that are tailored to address the specific business needs of their customers, without the requirement to invest in deploying a hosting infrastructure themselves.

"As a leading distributor of software plus services, we have a mission to continuously broaden and improve our portfolio of services, regardless of whether it’s targeted at resellers or their end consumers," said Michael Wicander, CEO at Smarthost. "By deploying connected services framework for service enablement, and private-labelling hosted services based on HMC, we give our partners the opportunity to create new revenue opportunities, while also strengthening their brand name and growing their customer base."

John Zanni, general manager of worldwide hosting at Microsoft, said: "At Microsoft, we recognise that private-labelling our hosted solutions creates a unique opportunity for our service provider partners to deliver branded, resalable, targeted hosted services to resellers, allowing resellers to address specific business needs for their customers."

"The evolution toward software plus services is ultimately about empowering customers and partners with greater choice and flexibility in how software is delivered. By extending rich solutions such as HMC and connected services framework to private-label providers, Microsoft not only gives customers the options they value, but also enables its partner ecosystem to meet those needs with a broad array of choices," added Zanni.

Groupspark is another software-plus-services provider of hosted Microsoft-based private-label offerings. Like Smarthost, Groupspark has deployed the HMC solution in a way that enables its channel partners and resellers to launch their own branded hosted services rapidly without requiring large initial investments or recurring management costs.

"Traditional IT resellers don’t need to be left behind in a service-based delivery world. The success of our private-label services has demonstrated the tremendous opportunity that resellers have to leverage existing customer relationships to drive new recurring revenue streams," said Ravi Agarwal, founder and senior executive officer at Groupspark. "Microsoft’s suite of solutions, including HMC, gives us a stable, scalable and, most importantly, familiar, platform of applications that the end customers demand."

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