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Microsoft, HP to help partners sell Microsoft software plus services

Joint Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard VARs can now resell Microsoft software plus services running on HP back-end systems.

Microsoft's software plus services strategy is getting a boost from Hewlett-Packard, as the two vendors team up to help their joint resellers move into the hosted software market.

Microsoft and HP will match hosting providers that run their infrastructure on HP back-end systems with value-added resellers (VARs) that want to offer Microsoft software plus services to customers. The partnership will help VARs make the sometimes-difficult transition to Software as a Service (SaaS) and cloud computing, said Allen Clark, Microsoft's industry hosting director.

"VARs are a very important set of partners for Microsoft, and we want to make sure they have a seat at the cloud table," he said.

Microsoft's software plus services strategy has been one of the biggest IT channel news stories of the year. Facing increased competition from Google, Salesforce.com and other hosted software powers, Microsoft plans to roll out hosted versions of its on-premise software under the Microsoft Online Services name. Early releases include Dynamics CRM Online, SharePoint Online and Exchange Online.

Under this Microsoft-HP partnership, hosting providers will sell their services at wholesale prices to VARs, who can then mark them up to customers as they see fit, Clark said.

"Microsoft doesn't really get into that relationship," he said.

Microsoft and HP will also let resellers put their own brand names on the hosted software they sell. Solution providers often say that such private-labeling helps them establish presence in the market and build a strong reputation with customers.

In addition, Microsoft and HP will offer training and sales and marketing collateral -- including case studies, configuration guides and profitability models -- to participating VARs. The companies have 30,000 joint partners, which means they can start delivering software plus services into the market quickly, said Janet Pretti, HP's vice president of channel marketing. Both vendors stressed that SaaS is just another option for customers, not a replacement for on-premise software.

"Customers are still struggling about when to use on-premise and when to use Software as a Service," Pretti said.

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