Microsoft has unveiled four new partners under an expanded Cloud Solution Provider Program as it readies to launch Office 365 and Dynamics CRM from Australian datacentres.
The locally hosted services will be delivered from datacentres in NSW and Victoria and will be available at the end of March, next year.
Microsoft Australia managing director, Pip Marlow, said the launch was a paradigm change for Microsoft.
"Today isn't just about what we are doing locally." she said.
"It is about how we land innovation in the backyards of Australia and the potential of that. And it really is around a new model.
"A new way of doing things, and a new platform for productivity, which I think is going to spur innovation in this country.
"When we talk about innovation we know that our Australian customers deserve the most complete Cloud in the world and that wouldn't be complete without a world class ecosystem."
The company has expanded its CSP program following a pilot phase with Ensyst, iiNet and Melbourne IT.
The new partners include OBS, Cloud First, Nimbal (a joint venture between Kloud and XCentral) and OzHosting.
Microsoft director, partner and business development, Phil Goldie, told ARN, it was a continuation of what was announced and brought to market with Azure.
"It's another step in that journey. The power of having all three of those services in Australia is going to be huge," he said.
"The Cloud Services program is a new commercial construct for the channel to use around reselling Cloud.
He said it allows resellers to provide services on a monthly billing basis, and to continue to own customer billing.
"What we have heard is that they want to be able to own customer billing on a monthly, not an annual basis.
The new model will have a combination of traditional resellers and distributors (which will be announced in Q1, 2015).
Marlow said there would be direct CSPs and indirect CSPs.
"We will make sure there is the direct CSP, but for those partners not involved in that program they will go through the indirect CSP and distributors... so there is going to be an opportunity for the whole partner channel."
Goldie said he thought there was also a healthy margin for resellers.
"The killer question is how do you add value to maintain those margins," he said.
"I think if you look at some of the early partners that we are working with, they a looking at unique IP and apps to maintain that margin.
He said Microsoft was looking for partners who augmented the product with significant value.
"We have the right commercial construct and commercial applications to work with partners and make a very profitable business for them."
Cloud first chief executive, Brad Rappell, said CSP was an amazing opportunity for partners to create robust global Cloud services that are localised for a particular region and industry segment.”
“This week we are pleased to launch ‘Franchise First’, a platform powered by Microsoft online services enhanced with our intellectual property on franchise systems to supercharge the operations of franchisors and franchisees,” he said.
OBS managing director, Andy Neumann, said he was excited about joining the program, but did not want to be tarred with the same brush as competing Cloud providers.
"I hate the term born-in-the-Cloud, it kills me," he said.
"Every time I hear it a little piece of me dies inside.
"But essentially it's about having a solid business model."
He said the program allowed his business to evolve to a new model, where you have project services, which are tried and test over 15 years.
"But beyond project services you can also get managed services and annuity revenue, and IP services where you can add value to what we've been doing and trying to commercialise," he said.
"We don't see it as a loss leader around Office365, or the Cloud Solution provider program, because it's really additive to our business, it's evolving our business. That's why we are so excited about it."
More than 20 million businesses are now using Microsoft Cloud.
In Australia new customers include Coles, the Queensland Government and the Western Australian Government.
The company has recorded a commercial Cloud run rate of $4.9 billion, while 77 per cent of fortune 500 financial services companies have purchased Office 365 in the last 12 months.
Dynamic CRM has more than 40,000 customer and more than 4 million users, while CRM Online revenue grew 80 per cent in the last quarter.
Microsoft vice president, Office, John case, said he believed the company's Cloud was the best Cloud for business.
"The reality is there are some things about our Cloud which are truly different," he said.
"Microsoft Cloud is the only one that really allows customers to do things with private Cloud, true multi-tenant public Cloud as well as all kinds of hybrid environments.
"This idea of public and private, and hybrid really is different in our point of view.
"Because customers have been using our software for so long, in so many different ways, they know how to implement things on their premises, and they are able to choose and pick when they want to go to the Cloud, with what workload, and what works for them. That flexibility is really, truly unique to Microsoft."