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Rackspace VARs Get Hosted SharePoint

Rackspace is rolling out a hosted Microsoft SharePoint offering to VARs moving clients into the cloud.

The addition of hosted SharePoint comes as Rackspace plans to relaunch its Email & Apps reseller program next month.

"Our channel partners want the opportunity to sell more products into their customer base," said Kirk Averett, director of product Email & Apps at Rackspace. "They just want more and more tools in their arsenal."

As part of the launch of hosted Microsoft SharePoint, Rackspace is offering resellers the ability to offer customers SharePoint for free, the same incentive Rackspace offers in direct engagements. Rackspace partners can offer their customers 250 MB of monthly SharePoint storage free of charge in both Rackspace Email and hosted Microsoft Exchange environments. After that, resellers are charged $8 per GB per month, a 20 percent discount over Rackspace direct pricing, Averett said.

Along with the incentives, Rackspace will also offer educational Webinars for partners to get up to speed with SharePoint and how to position it. How-to-videos are also in the works, which partners can add to their Websites.

Darryl Parker, owner of Parker Web Services, a Matthews, N.C.-based solution provider, said a hosted SharePoint offering gives him the ability to offer small business customers a way to replace their file servers or avoid file server upgrades. It also lets Parker Web Services act as a single point of contact for customers.

According to Parker, a hosted SharePoint offering on top of his other Rackspace offerings will also help him re-engage customers and offer new services, ultimately growing his business and revenue.

Parker said it answers the question: "How do I improve my relationship with clients and provide additional services to our existing customers? This rounds out the package so clients don't have to look elsewhere."

Hosted environments eliminate the overhead and risk for SMBs, Parker added

"I can make a strong strategic argument for a hosted environment," he said.

Overall, Parker said Rackspace's hosted SharePoint launch is just the beginning and will be a good starting point for SMBs to start moving apps to the cloud.

Averett said partners who create custom templates and offer services around the set-up and maintenance of SharePoint can also generate a new recurring revenue stream.

"It's an opportunity for us to gain a customer we never could have otherwise and to create a new source of revenue for the reseller," he said.

While hosted SharePoint is a new offering for Rackspace, the company will continue to offer its Dedicated SharePoint managed service it launched in 2008 for customers who require more intricate customization.

According to Averett, the addition of Microsoft SharePoint to Rackspace's suite of cloud applications now rounds out its hosted offerings to include collaboration, e-mail and storage.

"It's a great extension of our e-mail platform," he said, adding that since SharePoint typically integrates into Outlook or a Web browser it creates opportunities for both Rackspace Email and Microsoft Exchange resellers.

Rackspace's hosted SharePoint offering includes a control panel for administrators and partners to initiate SharePoint, and add and remove users and simply create SharePoint sites. It also gives admins and managers the ability to manage the full suite of Rackspace Email & Apps application including hosted Microsoft Exchange, Rackspace Email, Email Archiving and Rackspace Cloud Drive and Server Backup from one dashboard.

The new hosted SharePoint offering comes as Rackspace readies to relaunch its partner program around its Email & Apps suite next month. While few details were available, Averett said Rackspace will work to better driver partner's business in cloud computing.

The new Email & Apps reseller program will be "more friendly" for faster growing partners and will feature a new structure and be more "laser focused," Averett said.

"Resellers are super important to us," he said. "They allowed us to get up and running."

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