Microsoft To Partners: Get Cracking On Collaboration Deals

In an internal Microsoft document viewed by CRN, Microsoft outlines its strategy for getting partners to sell unified communication solutions to existing Exchange customers. Microsoft's goal is for its U.S. partners to attach LCS to 35% of new and renewing Exchange client access licenses (CALs), according to the document.

While LCS 2005 doesn't require Exchange 2007, Office Communication Server 2007, the LCS successor that Microsoft plans to release this fall, "requires Exchange 2007 to enable voice and unified messaging scenarios," according to the document.

Microsoft expects the effort to solidify Office sales and upgrades, drive incremental revenue in Exchange 2000-2003 accounts, and drive upgrades to Exchange 2007, according to the document.

Partners can take advantage of a promotion that includes discounts of up to 84 percent and comes with products and rights to all 3 OCS 2007 CALs, according to the document.

Sponsored post

One solution provider said bundling LCS with Exchange is "kind of a no-brainer" to enable collaboration, particularly for companies with mobile work forces.

However, the downside to Microsoft's approach is that it places a lot of dependence onto a single system, said the source, who requested anonymity.

"Telephony systems are one of the single most important resources in the enterprise, and with Microsoft having to release patches once a month to keep systems updated, that could lead to problems," said the source. "It's one thing to take an email system down for 5 minutes, and another to take your phone system down for 5 minutes."

The document also mentions Cisco as the biggest threat Microsoft will face in the unified communication market over the next few years.

Microsoft plans to "surround Cisco with Microsoft solutions based on several partnerships with all existing players (including Cisco)," reads the document. "Some partnerships will be deeper than others, such as Nortel and HP. Microsoft will also force a shakeup in the industry business model with a very disruptive strategy."

Another Microsoft Gold partner who asked not to be named said this 'strategy' "is simply to provide a solution that lets businesses add communications functionality without having to bear the cost of changing out the handsets."

The Microsoft document cites a 2005 internal study that shows using instant messaging over email and voice mail saved Microsoft $2,250 per person, per year. Overall improvements in collaboration across different geographical areas saved Microsoft $25 million in travel expenses and $50 million in travel time, according to the study.