Telstra and Microsoft are going to be getting nice and cosy starting from mid 2009 to offer small and medium businesses a whole host of cloud computing services. The arrangement will use Telstra's NextG and NextIP networks and Microsoft's back-end business software to bring fast, always-on communications across a whole raft of devices, from computers to mobile.
The announcement today is a little light on specifics, instead talking more about the partnership, but it does hint at some of the possibilities, including hosted business applications, mobile services and devices and unified communications. The idea is to offer powerful software solutions at a fraction of the cost by offering them up in a subscription-like format.
If you're a small business owner, this could be a great way of managing your day-to-day business needs, although until we see some pricing from either Telstra or Microsoft, we're going to hold our breath on the whole affordability thing.
Microsoft and Telstra Strategic Alliance to Deliver Comprehensive Business Services
Sydney, Australia - 05 November 2008: Microsoft Corp. and Telstra today announced their intention to enter into an Australian industry first - a broad strategic alliance to bring together business software applications, mobile services and devices, and integrated computer and telephone services over Telstra's Next IP™ and Next G™ networks.
The alliance is designed to enable the two companies to bring together the benefits of some of their key products and services to help Australian businesses increase productivity and compete more effectively at a local and global level.
Telstra Group Managing Director, Product Management, Ms Holly Kramer, said Telstra and Microsoft would collaborate to deliver truly integrated communications services to Australian businesses.
"Telstra is excited to have the opportunity to partner with Microsoft to bring to market the best of both worlds - world leading applications from Microsoft delivered over Telstra's world class networks - all in a seamless one-click, one-touch user experience," Ms Kramer said.
"Our customers are seeing convergence between networks and applications and between fixed and mobile devices. We are turning this convergence into meaningful products that deliver a better user experience and productivity benefits for their businesses.
"This is true unified communications - a combination of telephony, email, mobility, conferencing, collaboration and tools like presence - and it will change the way many Australian businesses operate," Ms Kramer said.
The companies plan for the first products to be introduced in market by mid 2009.
Ms Tracey Fellows, Microsoft Australia's Managing Director, said Australian businesses stood to benefit from a wide range of next generation technologies that are simple, low maintenance and cost effective, allowing employees to achieve more, in more places.
"Today's news marks a watershed moment in helping bring a new generation of powerful software and services to a wider audience of Australian businesses," Ms Fellows said.
"In particular, the planned alliance would provide small and medium sized businesses, of which there are over 1.8 million in Australia, access to products and services that were formerly only available to large companies with well-resourced IT budgets and infrastructure."
Ms Fellows added that the planned alliance would also be beneficial for the wider Australian technology industry.
"There are thousands of Australian IT businesses, consultants and partners who resell or distribute Microsoft and Telstra products and through this planned alliance we intend to help them take advantage of new opportunities to invest and grow their businesses and open up new markets," she said.
The alliance intends to offer a range of next generation services that are simple to install and use, and require lower maintenance than many current offerings. A wide range of business and government segments would potentially benefit from an array of new services. Services contemplated under the alliance include -
· Hosted business applications: through Telstra's T Suite portal, it is contemplated that businesses will have access to popular Microsoft business software, known as Microsoft Online Services, which will be hosted by Microsoft in the cloud and delivered as a subscription service. · Mobile services and devices: an all-in-one mobile email, calendar, contacts, web browser, business software and phone solution including security features, automatic software upgrades, support and data plan is envisaged. Advanced mobile phone fleet management and a new user-interface developed by Telstra giving users one-click access to their frequently used business applications on Windows Mobile phones is contemplated. · Unified Communications: Integrating Telstra's premium hosted IP Telephony service (TIPT) with Microsoft Office applications, including Office Communicator is proposed which will make it easier to control the way businesses communicate.