IT solutions provider Champion Solutions Group is leveraging its recently acquired MessageOps acquisition to build services around its Office 365 business -- and it's offering the same capabilities to other solution providers who work with Office 365.
"This is going to be the de facto standard in managing the Office 365 environment," said Chris Pyle, Champion CEO and president, in a recent interview. "Partners are going to have to provide services around Office 365."
Boca Raton, Fla.-based Champion has worked with Microsoft's Office 365 cloud application suite since it went live in mid-2011. Champion has signed up 200 new customer accounts with Office 365, helping the company get a foot in the door to sell other products and services.
But while Microsoft offers partners a percentage of the subscription price -- 12 percent for the first year and 6 percent on renewals -- Pyle acknowledged that partners "don't make a tremendous amount of money" on those fees. "Really where you start making the money is with the services you place around Office 365."
Charlotte, N.C.-based MessageOps developed 365 Command, a set of Web-based administration, reporting and monitoring tools that businesses and solution providers use to manage Office 365, including setting mailbox passwords and permissions and for password synchronization. Today some 375,000 mailboxes are being managed using the 365 Command software.
Champion used 365 Command to provide support and services to its customers before making an offer to acquire MessageOps for an undisclosed sum. "We saw how valuable they were and where they were going," Pyle said, noting that cloud services is the fastest growing part of Champion's business. The acquisition was completed last month.
Champion is maintaining MessageOps as a separate operation, providing investment capital to help them develop new tools for Champion and its customers. "They're an awesome development shop," Pyle said of the MessageOps personnel, noting their expertise with Office 365 and Exchange Online. "We're trying not to get in their way."
But, Champion plans to go beyond providing the Windows Azure-based 365 Command to its own customers and is offering the management tools to other solution providers that work with Office 365.
Pyle said Microsoft partners are going to have to provide more value-added services around Office 365 to prevent customers from simply subscribing to the applications directly through Microsoft. "This is where the smart partners will leverage 365 Command," he said.
PUBLISHED DEC. 11, 2012