Sure, cloud computing can drive monthly recurring revenue (MRR). But for Microsoft’s Office 365 Partner of the Year, professional services revenues continue to be the prime opportunity. That’s the message from Rick Koppin, a practice area lead at Slalom Consulting, the 2012 Microsoft Office 365 Solution Partner of the Year Award.
Over the past year or so, Talkin’ Cloud has focused less on Office 365′s MRR opportunities, and we’ve started to hear from partners that generate most cloud revenues from professional services. “We have the same philosophy here,” said Koppin. “We’re almost 100 percent professional services. The partner of record-related recurring revenue is gravy.”
Slalom Consulting’s cloud business has accelerated amid Microsoft’s shift from BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite) to Office 365, which turns one year old this month. In the BPOS days, most of Slalom’s Microsoft-focused cloud business involved email migrations. But as Office 365 came online, the opportunities expanded to SharePoint Online and Lync Online.
“During the tail end of BPOS, customers held off for Office 365,” said Koppin. “Then customers were waiting for Office 365 to bake a little bit — for three to six months — to make sure there was no significant downtime. The past three to six months have been a lot better” in terms of customer adoption.
Located near Silicon Valley, Koppin sees a lot of opportunity to integrate Lync with customers that are Cisco-centric shops. In the past year or two, Cisco and Microsoft have been partnering closely on ISV relations — even as they compete in the collaboration and unified communications markets.
Koppin sees big potential upside for Lync Online, which offers instant messaging, presence and collaboration technologies. Short term, he doesn’t believe Lync will replace all PBXes because many customers are married to legacy phone systems. But those collaboration capabilities represent a natural starting point for Lync customers.
Slalom Consulting also is watching Microsoft’s war with Google Apps. Koppin didn’t go into deep detail but it’s clear many customer discussions involve the merits of Office 365 vs. Google Apps.
On the enterprise social media front, Slalom is investigating how Microsoft’s $1.2 billion buyout of Yammer will potentially benefit customers. Slalom already partners with NewsGator, which adds social computing to SharePoint.
Still, Slalom wants to be known as more than a cloud migration expert. Steering clear of commodity cloud discussions, Slalom promotes its business process expertise to make customers more agile. “We have our processes down,” said Koppin. “The kinks have been worked out.”
Koppin was referring to Slalom’s long-term experience in the cloud. But perhaps his words also apply to Office 365. The shift to the cloud has forced Microsoft to build out support services and infrastructure that keep businesses online. It’s a foreign world compared to the classic client-server model. But Koppin seems impressed with Microsoft’s progress.
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