Microsoft partner bosses urged to tackle Office 365 concerns

Microsoft has rejigged its channel management structure to smooth resellers move to its cloud services model, one that partners have expressed serious concerns over.

Microsoft has rejigged its channel management structure to smooth resellers move to its cloud services model, one that partners have expressed serious concerns over.

As a result of the reshuffle, Clare Barclay, director of partner programmes and strategy is moving to become UK director of SMB and distribution, replacing Simon Aldous who is now UK hosting lead.

In a statement, Microsoft said a large portion of Barclay's role is to help customers and existing partners "transition to the cloud as well as developing new channels and communities".

She will maintain a dual role until a successor for partner programmes and strategy is found.

Aldous - a popular figure in the channel community - will need to draw upon all the good will among the partner base and experience gained in the SME sector, as he takes on the hosting role.

"Simon will bring some specific insight and expertise about the challenges faced in the SME space that will be extremely beneficial to our hosting parters," said Microsoft.

Office 365 - due to replace Microsoft's existing cloud product BPOS later this year - has got a number of detractors in the reseller network.

Major concerns include the ability to only sign customers up via Microsoft's site, and the need for customers to nominate an incumbent partner for their work to be recognised and rewarded.

"The client has to sign up the reseller as the partner of record, if they don't, we don't get paid. We need to handhold them at every stage to be recognised. It is channel friendly at the moment? No," said one large partner.

Others claim BPOS is set up to be a direct sales tool with a channel component linked to it.

"BPOS and Office 365 are set up as direct touch [sales models]," said another large reseller.

Directing customers to Microsoft's cloud portal was a stamp of creditility countered a third, smaller Microsoft dealer.

"The biggest benefit to us of not selling on premise is the professional services we are charging to help clients move to the cloud, hand hold them and be their front line support."

Microsoft has previously said the Office 365 will be available in 2011 but partners are not expecting a launch before July, with others mooting the possibility of an August timeframe.

"There is plenty of time for the management to get to grips with the concerns in the channel," said a Microsoft LAR.

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