According to sources close to Microsoft, the company's top 10 U.S. cloud channel partners, in terms of deployed BPOS customers, are:
- CDW LLC, roughly 390 customers
- LiveOffice, 125 customers. LiveOffice specializes in email archiving and hosted Exchange.
- StrategicSaaS LLC, 95 customers. Perhaps not surprising, StrategicSaaS also has close relationships with CDW and LiveOffice.
- MessageOps, 85 customers. The company specializes in Microsoft Online migrations.
- Cloud Strategies LLC, 75 customers. Doug Fraser, director of Cloud Strategies' U.S. relationship with Microsoft, previously worked for Microsoft's alliance team.
- Software House International, 70 customers. SHI is a well-known $3 billion provider of IT solutions.
- SoftChoice, 70 customers. In a Q4 earnings report, SoftChoice pointed to the strength of its Microsoft-related sales.
- Vorsite Corp., 70 customers. The company has bet its entire business on Microsoft-related cloud deployments for small, midsize and enterprise companies.
- Dell, 65 customers. On a potentially related note, Dell has been mulling its own cloud computing partner program, according to TalkinCloud's sister site, The VAR Guy.
- Champion Solutions Group, 65 customers. Not resting on its laurels, Champion Solutions group is busy educating customers about Office 365, the forthcoming successor to BPOS.
The Deeper Story
The cloud partners list above surfaces as Microsoft attempts to reassure partners about its channel commitment even as cloud computing gains momentum. (For the record: I do believe Microsoft remains committed to the channel.) Microsoft has also taken heat from some partners who want to control end-customer cloud billing -- a service Microsoft doesn't permit, though Channel Chief Jon Roskill is listening closely to partner feedback.
Meanwhile, lingering questions remain. Chief among them:
- The Top 10 list above represents BPOS customer deployments. Sources declined to declined to disclose how many end-users are actually represented within the deployments. However, sources said some deployments involve tens of thousands of customers.
- Also, it's unclear how many BPOS applications each customer is running, nor can we estimate how cross-selling efforts (between Exchange Online and SharePoint online, for instance) are performing.
- Where are distributors such as the Ingram Micro Cloud initiative? Ingram has a hosted Exchange relationship with Intermedia, but we're curious to see if Ingram climbs into Microsoft's top 10 list of BPOS cloud partners.
Bottom line: Microsoft has taken its share of lumps from some VARs and MSPs who worry if the company is shifting away from the IT channel. But I truly believe Microsoft remains committed to the channel. Microsoft's decision to closely monitor channel partner wins for BPOS and SaaS applications reinforces that point. On the one hand the numbers didn't overly impress me. But on the other hand, sources say the figures include some Fortune 500 cloud wins for Microsoft's channel partners.
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