Microsoft (MSFT) announced at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference this week the global availability of Microsoft Communication Services, a partner program to help hosting providers and their resellers market hosted unified communications to SMB customers. Microsoft Communication Services provides a common set of marketing collateral and the ability to utilize the Microsoft brand beyond individual product brands for better recognition in the SMB marketplace. The initiative is open to Microsoft partners that have attained the Hosting Solutions competency, part of the broader Microsoft Partner Network.
“SMBs are increasingly interested in communication and collaboration tools to improve productivity and reduce costs,” said John Zanni, general manager of the Worldwide Software plus Services Industry team for the Communications Sector at Microsoft. “The majority of customers in the SMB segment want to purchase Microsoft Hosted Exchange and Microsoft Office Communications Server services from companies that package these offerings. With Microsoft Communication Services, hosting providers and their resellers are speaking the language of their customers.”
Microsoft Communication Services was designed with Comcast to help enable service providers to offer higher-margin services, create customer loyalty and become a trusted advisor. Collateral and guidance focuses on marketing a solution of collaborative hosted services, including hosted Microsoft Exchange Server, Hosted Windows SharePoint Services, Microsoft Office Communications Server and Microsoft Office Live Meeting. Microsoft-branded collateral includes demo videos, marketing guidance and telesales scripts.
Microsoft and Comcast piloted the program in November 2007, helping Comcast market business-class e-mail, calendaring and document sharing to its SMB customers. To date, Comcast has more than 100,000 e-mail users on Microsoft Hosted Exchange. Based on the success of the pilot for Comcast and its customers, Microsoft will now offer Microsoft Communication Services worldwide to all its hosting partners.