Solution Providers To Microsoft: Don't Mess With Skype

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Berzack said the deal could potentially reshape the Internet telecommunications solutions market. "This essentially makes Microsoft a phone company overnight," he said. "Putting voice into the cloud is going to be the secret to making this successful with the channel doing the integration and migration for businesses."

That said, Berzack cautioned that it's too early to tell just how big an opportunity the Microsoft Skype acquisition will be for solution providers. "We have to see what the road map is for the technology," he said. "It's hard to absorb all the implications right now. I can not fathom how Skype got a valuation of $8.5 billion. There could have been a silent bidding war and Microsoft bought it to stop someone else from getting it." In that case, Berzack said, Microsoft runs the risk of "marginalizing" the Skype technology.

Dr. Jane Linder, managing director of NWN, one of the fastest growing enterprise solution providers in the country, said Microsoft is too smart to mess with Skype's open architecture or not use the channel to exploit the Skype opportunity. "Microsoft bought Skype because of where it fits into the solutions constellation and how it compliments what they already do," she said. "I can't see them changing the fundamental open characteristic of Skype. They are smarter than that."

The acquisition also marks a new chapter in the Microsoft versus Google battle. "Google Voice was gaining some traction with consumers," she said. "This doesn't let Google walk away with the voice business. Microsoft is in this for the long haul."

Linder said the Microsoft Skype deal is yet another example of how consumer technology is moving into the enterprise solutions market. "Business people are showing up with consumers tools at work and they want to use them," she said. "In the old days, the IT department just said; 'No you can't have it. You have to use what we give you otherwise we won't support it.' IT departments are now bringing these tools into the mix because their internal customers love them."

As to how enterprise partners like NWN monetize the Skype opportunity, Linder said she sees it as similar to the Microsoft Office model where NWN does not make software licensing revenue but provides high end integration and compliance services.

"The way we monetize Skype is the same way we monetize Microsoft Office making sure it is secure and integrated with the other things our customers are doing," she said."I see this as Microsoft giving us a broader set of offerings to satisfy our business customers."

NEXT: Can Solution Providers Can Make Money With Skype?

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