Microsoft gets SaaSy with Telstra but doesn't go all the way

Microsoft has dipped its toe a little further in to the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) world by making its online services available through Telstra's T-Suite platform.

The company's Exchange, Office Communications, SharePoint and Office Live Meeting products will now be available as a simple subscription services hosted by Microsoft and provided through Telstra's networks.

Clinging to its heritage, Microsoft refuses to call this a SaaS offer, continuing to prefer the term "Software Plus Service".

“This launch is the cornerstone of our software plus services alliance with Telstra,” said Microsoft Australia's Communications Sector Director, Kevin Brough.

Associate consulting director at IDC Linus Lai said the reason behind Microsoft's refusal to use the SaaS term is pretty obvious.

“Microsoft is a software company built on software licensing. To render this announcement as a software as a service one would be bit too much for them,” he said.

“[The company has] a lot of fiscal responsibility to shareholders. It would like to present a message to the customer that all options are covered. It still has on premise software, as well as software subscriptions and software delivered as a service.”

Research Vice President for Gartner Australia Geoff Johnson agrees: “It's marketing.”

When asked about how many customers have taken up Telstra T-Suite applications since its launch earlier this year, director of T-Suite at Telstra Business Marcus Bartrum admitted that the current customer base was small.

“The base is small today because we want to get things right because it is such an important strategic product for Telstra and Microsoft. The focus is on getting things right, getting the channel engaged and sorting out the operational side of things in order to drive take up,” he said.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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