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Microsoft partners expect cloud deluge at WWPC

There’ll be a lot of cloud talk at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in D.C. next week.

What Microsoft lost in being late to the party–compared to Salesforce.com, Amazon, Google–it will try to make up for in hyper vigilance now. That’s why partners have already heard a lot about why they must sell Business Productivity Online Services–Microsoft hosted Exchange mail and SharePoint collaboration services.

They’ve been reminded that Microsoft is now “all in” the cloud per CEO Steve Ballmer.

At WPC, there will be sessions on why Microsoft Transactional Partners: Distributors, LARs, VARs should take an interest in Windows Azure, for example.  And others on selling cloud-based solutions. And many on BPOS.

Microsoft partners are already well aware of BPOS, the $10 per user per month mail and collaboration service that takes on Google Apps in the market. Some say Microsoft’s obsession with it–and pressure to push BPOS–might have had some unintended–and unwanted–consequences.

“We had our forced indoctrination on BPOS from Microsoft and by the time they were done. we all went out to look at Google Apps again, given the amount of energy Microsoft put into badmouthing it in their presentation.  More than half our team liked Google Apps better. I still like BPOS better and since we’re getting away from licensing [revenue] and moving away from the suite to the cloud, we’re taking a hard look at BPOS,” said an exec with a large Midwestern VAR.

Microsoft would very much like its partners to use BPOS as well. Last year it gave qualifying partners at WPC 250 free seats. Andy Vabulas, CEO of IBIS Inc., a Microsoft Business Solutions ERP partner, said his company will probably move to BPOS with the next release and may resell the services as well.

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