Office Live a Threat to the SMB VAR

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Print this article Print


Desktop-as-a-Service Designed for Any Cloud ? Nutanix Frame

Microsoft is taking aim at the SMB market with their latest iteration of Office Live Small Business.

General talk about Microsoft’s Office Live offering has been floating around for about a year and a half now, and Microsoft has found some limited success in getting users to adopt the hosted service as their product of choice.

Now, Microsoft has fired a shot across the bow of the small business VAR by offering up a bunch of freebies to entice those very small businesses that many VARs rely on to butter their bread.

On Feb. 11, Microsoft relaunched Microsoft Office Live Small Business and collapsed the three tiers into a single product, which offers a great deal more services for free. The company hopes to entice a plethora of small businesses into the Office Live fold by offering everything from Web hosting to e-mail to remote storage for free. For VARs servicing mom and pop shops, that could be terrible news!

Those are the very services that VARs were once able to squeak a meager profit from when dealing with those mom-and-pop shops.

So what should those VARs do? Simply put, if you have a small business customer that considers Office Live Small Business a viable solution to their hosting needs, by all means, help that customer to setup using those free offerings from Microsoft but be sure to point out where the free offerings end and the charges begin.

Odds are that any tech savvy small business will outgrow the freebies. But, what about those businesses whose needs can be met by the freebies? Simply put, those businesses will need plenty of help setting up the free services and probably are not very tech savvy to begin with. After all, there is still a lot of money to be made with "hand holding."

Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at frank.ohlhorst@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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