New partner opportunities for small business with Teams Essentials - Microsoft AI Cloud Partner Program

New partner opportunities for small business with Teams Essentials

Team meeting in a conference room while videoconferencing with four other people on a large screen

Today, we announced a major new product for small businesses which brings a tremendous opportunity for our partner ecosystem: Microsoft Teams Essentials. Small businesses have shown incredible resilience over the past 20 months, adapting to a rapidly changing world to keep the doors open and continue serving customers. As small businesses transition from remote work to hybrid work, they need the right tools to enable them to thrive with the new business models, ways of engaging with customers, and workstyles that they now experience. Teams is the one app where you can create space to meet, connect, and work—when and how you want, with your coworkers and your customers. With Teams Essentials, small businesses will be able to grow their businesses with Teams easily and at a low price.

I’m also incredibly excited about the opportunity Teams Essentials creates for partners to deliver impact and acquire new customers. We’ve put extra effort into building a version of Teams Essentials exclusively for partners in our Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program. This version delivers all the same commercial-grade meetings, chat, channels, and file collaboration that comes with Teams through our Microsoft 365 suites, but without the need to fully deploy Microsoft 365. Teams Essentials is built for partners, with full manageability and the ability to easily transition into more advanced Microsoft 365 for business suites as customer needs grow. Below are four scenarios for partners that I see Teams Essentials unlocking:

  1. Enable Teams for on-premises or hosted email customers: We often hear from small businesses who want to use Teams but are concerned about how cloud migration might disrupt their day-to-day business. Teams Essentials works on top of whatever email your customers are already using, meaning partners can add the full power of Teams into any environment.
  2. Replace legacy PBX with Teams Essentials plus Teams Phone System: Teams Essentials works seamlessly with Teams Phone System, and Direct Routing, Operator Connect, or 1st Party Calling Plans to enable partners to sell a targeted voice offering to customers looking to replace their legacy systems with modern calling capabilities.
  3. Connect frontline workers in small businesses: Frontline workers have been critical to the continued operations of small businesses. Teams Essentials delivers the right features like shift scheduling in Teams and the right price point to digitally empower them.
  4. Deliver Teams ISV apps directly to customers: Teams Essentials supports full 3rd party integrations, meaning partners now have an easy entry point to deliver customized experiences on top of the Teams platform.

Most importantly, Teams Essentials provides you as partners with a new front door to service small businesses, while retaining your ability to grow those customers into full Microsoft 365 over time. Teams Essentials is available today to transact through the CSP program.

Zooming out, Teams Essentials through the CSP program is just one step in our continued journey to grow partner opportunity in small and medium businesses. As part of our Modern Work strategy, we want to provide every partner with the ability to acquire new customers using a portfolio of best-of-breed platform-agnostic on-ramps. Teams Essentials enables the best meetings, chat, and collaboration experience regardless of a customer’s current IT infrastructure. Microsoft Defender for Business, which we announced last month at Ignite, enables enterprise-grade endpoint protection for small businesses whether they use Windows, Mac, Android, or iOS. Both Teams Essentials and Microsoft Defender for Business enable partners to address critical needs for small businesses today, whether it be enabling new ways to get work done with meetings or protecting devices in an increasingly hostile security landscape.

On top of these new products, we’re investing in the right partner tools like Microsoft 365 Lighthouse and Project “Orland” to enable partners to effectively deploy, nurture, and grow with their customers. And we’re committed to offering the best end to end solutions with products like Microsoft 365 Business Standard and Microsoft 365 Business Premium, that have both compelling value for customers and substantial surface area for partners to deliver customized managed services.

Small business is a major area of focus for Microsoft, and I’m proud that we are investing in partners to grow in this space with us.

You can learn more about Microsoft Teams Essentials by visiting the Microsoft 365 Partner Portal to get training content, to-customer assets and more.


  • Dan Truax
    General Manager, Global Partner Solutions

    With more than 23 years at Microsoft managing internal and customer facing, at-scale, online digital marketing solutions, Dan Truax leads the Partner Digital Experiences and Programs team within Microsoft Global Partner Solutions (GPS). He is focused on delivering innovative, engaging digital and programmatic experiences to enable success and growth for our partner ecosystem.