An Office 365 cloud management tool, called 365 Command, seems to be catching on with Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) channel partners. Indeed, 365 Command now has more than 1,000 partners and customers worldwide, up 65 percent since January 2013. At the same time, Office 365 seems to be attracting a range of third-party management, monitoring and reporting tools -- which suggests Microsoft's cloud platform is catching fire with some ISVs and channel partners.

Talkin' Cloud first heard about 365 Command, built by MessageOps, in January 2013. Cloud partners and customers now use 365 Command to manage more than 520,000 mailboxes worldwide, up from 365,000 mailboxes two months ago. 

"Admins from all industries and companies of all sizes are taking advantage of 365 Command to gain control of their Office 365 environment," asserts Chris Pyle, CEO of Champion Solutions Group, which owns MessageOps. "365 Command brings unprecedented ease of use to the Office 365 platform with the stringent security controls that deliver the performance, security and management ease that world-class business email requires."

One Piece of a Larger Puzzle

While 365 Command automates some Office 365 management tasks, there are alternative approaches in the market. For instance, Level Platforms' Managed Workplace platform allows MSPs to remotely monitor and manage on-premises systems along with cloud systems like Office 365. 

Dave Sobel, director of partner community at Level Platforms, says channel partners want a single dashboard for end-to-end systems and network management -- from the customer office out to the cloud. 

Serving Its Niche

Still, 365 Command is carving out its own market niche. Hosted in Microsoft's Windows Azure cloud, 365 Command offers three core capabilities to channel partners -- particularly those that want to wrap managed services around Office 365. Those capabilities include:

  • Administration: The service helps administers and help desk staff to perform common tasks that would otherwise require Windows PowerShell scripting knowledge.
  • Reporting: Channel partners can generate reports to show such information as mailbox sizes, archive sizes, quotas usage and more.
  • Partner Scalability: Channel partners can administer all of their Office 365 customers from a single login.

Partners can purchase up to 50 seats per month for $19.95, with volume discounts available.

How About Some Reporting?

Meanwhile, reporting tools are also entering the Office 365 cloud market. One example is Cogmotive, which provides reporting on:

  • mailbox size, quota usage and trending
  • last logon dates and activities
  • mobile device and ActiveSync statistics
  • licenses applied per user
  • retention policy compliance
  • and more.

The bottom line for existing and potential Office 365 channel partners: An ecosystem of management, monitoring and reporting tools is starting to emerge. That's good news on two fronts. First, Office 365 must be gaining critical mass to attract developer support. Second, Office 365 should become easier to deploy and monitize -- assuming the tools work as advertised.