Office 365 is a comprehensive platform that delivers main pillars like email, calendar, collaboration (including search, document management...etc.), unified communications and social. Microsoft continues to add to this platform with the likes of Project Online and PowerBI further extending its range of capabilities.
However, Office 365 is not an isolated platform, it works in tandem with Microsoft Azure to extend its services through Azure websites, Active Directory, and more to come. The platform is fully managed by Microsoft and supported by Microsoft SLA.
So with that said, how will this growing pool of interconnected technologies and capabilities affect the existing SharePoint ecosystem, and how in particular how will this continue to affect Microsoft partners?
I would categorize existing Microsoft partners into:
- Boutique services: delivering software services in the shape of custom developed solutions on top of SharePoint and consultancy services.
- Products companies: developing ready-made products that utilize or serve SharePoint as a platform. For example workflow products, governance management, administration, back-up and restore, custom web parts, custom HR solutions, ideas management...etc. You can check a lot of these products on SharePointReviews.com
- Hosting and platform management companies: providing managed services to clients who want to outsource the hosting of their own SharePoint platform.
Each of these categories will be affected differently:
Boutique services are the least affected of these categories, however they should adapt and understand the change and the new vision. Microsoft is pushing all the custom development to be outside SharePoint in the form of apps hosted on Azure websites, or custom applications (websites, windows apps, mobile apps...etc.) that utilize SharePoint as the backend; the applications will connect to SharePoint (or Office 365) using the new Office 365 APIs.
Product companies will need to reassess their strategy, review their market segments and understand how flexible their clients are to the new changes. There will always be certain clients that are slower to adopt change or maybe even reject the cloud concept altogether.
In my opinion, the companies focusing on the platform management like upgrade and migration, back-up and restore and administration are hurt by the new move. In Office 365 there will be no version upgrades or new farms that requires content migration. These companies, at some point, will need to repurpose their products, move up in the technology stack (rather than focusing on the platform move up to the application).
The companies building ready web parts or solutions on top of SharePoint will need to re-architect their solutions and maintain a close working relationship with Microsoft to stay on top of any upcoming platform changes.
However it is of course the hosting companies that are the most affected category. Simply put they are going to lose all of the clients that make the move to the cloud. And this isn’t only about SharePoint; most clients will move the email and unified communication workloads to the cloud first, and then SharePoint follows.
Cloud strategy is an important item on the agenda of all CIOs; either in the short term or long term. That's why all IT professional service firms need to re-innovate their offerings, focus on maximizing the business value for their clients and divert their focus from IT only solutions.
Here at BrightStarr we are embracing the change that Office 365 is bringing to the enterprise technology space and we can't wait to see all the great things that are coming next. If you want to find out more about Office 365 Intranets and what can be achieved through the power of the Microsoft cloud, then download our whitepaper via the button below. You wont be disappointed!