Microsoft Debuts Business App Marketplace, Surface as a Service

Lynn Haber**Editor’s Note: Click here for our recently compiled list of new products and services.**

MICROSOFT WPC — Monday was about vision; Tuesday was about technology innovation around Microsoft’s three ambitions: reinventing productivity and business processes; building the intelligent cloud; and more personal computing; at day two of Microsoft WPC 2016.

Microsoft's Kirk KoenigsbauerKirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president for Microsoft Office, laid out the Office 365 vision and road map around collaboration, mobility, intelligence and trust.

The software giant is making big investments in Skype, and Koenigsbauer took a deeper dive into new functionality. He introduced the Skype Operations Framework (SOF), an end-to-end planning, deployment and operations methodology for Skype for Business that helps partners to create new revenue streams with managed services.

Microsoft also expanded the availability of Skype for Business to 92 countries. In the U.K. and U.S., the company made PSTN calling available for inbound and outbound calling, phone numbers and calling plans. And by yearend, partners will be able to preview the automatic transcription and translation services in Skype Meeting Broadcast.{ad}

Modality Systems, 2016 Microsoft Communication Partner of the Year award winner, is 100-percent focused on unified communications. Not only does the company specialize in Skype for Business, but the firm got a jump-start on the Skype Operations Framework (SOF).

“We’re very excited about it because it ensures a successful adoption of Skype for Business in the cloud — that means planning, deployment and operations,” John Lamb, president and co-founder, told us. Modality is one of the very first Microsoft partners on board with SOF.

Modality just announced that it will offer a Skype for Business managed-services offering that it based on the SOF, on a per user/per month basis.

“We would have built something similar ourselves but Microsoft made the investment and built the framework for us,” he said. The SOF is very prescriptive, repeatable and consistent, which is what Lamb likes about it.

For partners with an education practice, Microsoft introduced Office 365 Education plans that are available through the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program.

Enlightening partners about advancements that Microsoft is making around building the intelligent cloud was left to Scott Guthrie, executive vice president with the cloud and enterprise group. To rally attendees, Guthrie pointed out that $45 billion in partner-services revenue was attached to Microsoft enterprise cloud and projects last year. He also noted that participants in Microsoft’s CSP program …


… own the customer journey end to end — setting the price, terms and what they bill. And being the first point of contact for their customer’s cloud needs. Along those lines, he added that tens of thousands of partners, worldwide, transact through Microsoft’s app solutions marketplaces.

Microsoft's James PhillipsMicrosoft’s new business app marketplace – AppSource – was also announced today. Not only is it the go-to place for partners to help their customers find the applications they need, but partners who develop their own apps can put them in the marketplace, which has an easy onboard process, according to James Phillips, corporate vice president and general manager of Microsoft business applications, platforms and intelligence.

Also mentioned on stage was the launch of Windows Server 2016 and System Center 2016 at Microsoft Ignite coming this fall, and the general availability of Azure SQL Data Warehouse.

Microsoft geared up to offer more personal computing with two announcements: Windows 10 Enterprise E3 for CSP and Surface-as-a-service.

Windows 10 Enterprise E3 is a cloud offering and subscription service geared toward small and medium-size business (SMBs). The most significant benefit of the service is the security it offers users. The CSP partner opportunity includes licensing, provisioning and managing, as well as bundling SaaS offerings around Windows 10 and adding consulting services. The cost for the new Windows 10 E3 offering is $7 per seat/per month.

For SMB customers looking for no muss, no fuss IT, they can now get Surface as a Service, a new flexible purchase option that’s part of the new Surface global reseller program. Combine Surface-as-a-service with the new Windows 10 Enterprise E3 cloud offering and partners are presented with a whole new business opportunity.

Finally, Microsoft will release the Anniversary update of Windows 10 on August 2.

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