Will Office 365 change the vendors focus?
Office 365 is a comprehensive platform that delivers main pillars like email, calendar, collaboration (including search, document management…etc.), unified communications and social.
Microsoft keeps adding to this platform like Project Online and PowerBI.
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 Microsoft SLA.
Having that said, how this will affect the existing SharePoint ecosystem and Microsoft partners specifically?
I would categorise existing Microsoft partners into:
- Boutique services: they deliver software services in the shape of custom developed solutions on top of SharePoint and consultancy services.
- Products companies: they develop ready-made products that utilise or serve SharePoint as a platform. For example workflow products, governance management, administration, back and restore, custom web parts, custom HR solution, ideas management…etc. You can check a lot of these products on Sharepointreviews.com
- Hosting and platform management companies: they provide managed services to clients who want to outsource the hosting of their own SharePoint platform.
Let’s see how each category will be affected:
Boutique services are the least affected in these categories. However, they should adapt and understand the change and the vision. Microsoft is pushing all the custom development to be outside SharePoint in the form of apps hosted on Azure websites or develop custom applications (websites, windows apps, mobile apps…etc.) that utilise SharePoint as backend; the applications will connect to SharePoint (or Office 365) using the new Office 365 APIs.
Products companies will need to reassess their strategy, review their market segments and how their clients are flexible to the new changes. There are clients slower to change or may be rejects the cloud concept.
In my opinion, the companies focusing on the platform management like upgrade and migration, back and restore, administration are hurt by the new move. In Office 365 there is no new versions that need upgrade or new farm that requires content migration. These companies needs 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, they will need to re-architect their solutions and keep a close relation with Microsoft to stay to top of any upcoming platform changes.
Hosting companies are the most affected category. Simply they are going to lose all of the clients who are going to move to the cloud. It is not only about SharePoint; most of the clients move the email and unified communication workloads first then SharePoint follows.
Cloud strategy is an important item on all the CIOs agenda; either in the short term or long term. That’s why all IT professional service firms need to re-innovate their offerings, focus on maximising the business value for their clients and divert the focus from IT only solutions