Cloud services, such as Office 365 or CRM Online, are a significant breakthrough in how technology can level the playing field. Prior to the emergence of cloud services, it was a significant capital cost for small and mid-sized businesses to invest in sales management systems or collaboration and communication systems. Now, because of the service orientation of cloud offerings, even small businesses are able to take advantage of the same class of scale that large businesses have.

 
It would be easy, on first blush, to assume that cloud services like Office 365 were cannibalistic to the core value of the channel. But on deeper inspection it has become clearer that cloud offerings significantly change the game for solution partners by creating more opportunity—albeit in new areas. I thought it would be good to review where these opportunities are and how partners are already taking advantage of them.
 
Currently, most of the growth in cloud offerings sits in very commodity-oriented markets: delivering hosting services for websites, delivering cloud backup and core application scenarios (productivity, server platforms, etc). But as these services come online, smart partners are seeing a clear opportunity. Offerings that traditionally went against on-premise servers are being mapped to the cloud. Plus, partners are providing their own services to build out a robust, multi-supplier cloud that’s richer than the core platform offerings from Microsoft.
 
 
 
One such partner is SkyLite Systems and their SideKick365-DCM​ application. SideKick 365 adds comprehensive and secure document sharing from Office and SharePoint, allowing users across the group to add content—documents, images, media, etc.—to a single case file that can be shared with external customers or clients online. This is a great example of creating value on top of Office 365 to create industry-specific value for consulting firms and legal clients.
 
 
 
Another example is LiveOffice​, which provides email archiving, discovery and compliance solutions for Office 365. With LiveOffice, customers can easily remain compliant with regulations regarding email retention and archiving for legal and other compliance needs, such as auditing. 
 
Microsoft is, first and foremost, a company that builds platforms that our partners use to create even more value for their businesses. As we advance our cloud offerings, we’re able to provide these services to new customers—including those for whom this technology was previously out of reach. We’re also able to give existing customers a lower cost alternative to on-premise. And these cloud offerings are significantly expanding capabilities and integration points. 
 
So come see the complete set of Office 365 innovations our partners are creating through Microsoft Pinpoint!
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