Microsoft hands over Office 365 to resellers

msMicrosoft has lived up to its pledge made last summer by making cloud suite available through Open licensing from 1 March.

Resellers can bill customers directly for Office 365 eight months after the move was unveiled to applause at the vendor’s Worldwide Partner Conference  in 2012.

This mean that Office 365 will be available to partners on Open and Open Value licensing programmes from next month.

At the moment partners have to use a referral model for reselling Office 365 and get payments for what they sell, with Microsoft controlling billing.

But the new move will mean that resellers the chance to set their own margins and bill customers. It gives them the ability to control and bundle products.

This is important in cloud offerings where resellers show up and offer a one stop shop cloud operation.

It has been a long time coming. Some resellers were expecting to see the plan enacted by the end of the year particularly after Vole launched it with such a big fanfare.  Microsoft claims that the idea has a lot of support, so it is not clear why the plan was so delayed.

However Microsoft still might sail up the nasal passages of resellers by offering a different SKU which means that some customers may still be forced to bypass the partner on billing.  This could be confusing for many customers and resellers who might think they have a product that they don’t.