Ottawa-based hosted application provider ITUtility.net has added Microsoft Lync to its stack of cloud-based Microsoft apps available through its channel partners, a move that the company says keeps it competitive with its peers, and provides new service opportunities for the VARs and MSPs that offer the company’s hosted apps to customers.
Lync joins an array of other Microsoft applications, including Exchange, SharePoint, and Dynamics CRM, in the company’s hosting repertoire, along with some non-Microsoft apps, most notably BlackBerry server software. Marc-Henri Lauzon, president of ITUtility.net, said the company is now offering the collaboration service to its hosted suite both because of customer requests, and because it’s becoming an expected part of any hosted apps stack.
“The way I see it, it will just part of the norm,” Lauzon said. “It will be as pervasive as e-mail, you’ll just have to have it.”
ITUtility.net sells 100 per cent through the channel, primarily to Canadian MSPs and VARs, with “hundreds of partners and thousands of customers,” according to Lauzon. Most of its customers are Canadian businesses in the sub-50 space. Its partner typically sell its hosted apps on a white-label basis, and the fact that Lync is now included in its default bundles mean the company’s partners have an opportunity to both take a new offering to new customers and re-engage existing customers with a new offering.
For Lauzon, adding Lync is both a matter of keeping up with the Joneses (rival hoster SherWeb and Microsoft’s own Office 365 both include Lync by default, and Google’s online services bundle for business also includes real-time collaboration tools), and an opportunity for partners to carve out some new business with their existing base.
“We see a lot of opportunities in integration, a lot of opportunities for professional services sales around Lync,” Lauzon said. “That’s where I think the real interest is for partners.”
Like most cloud providers, the company runs its own bundle, and Lauzon admits that the popular communication tool is definitely one he couldn’t live without.
“When you’re decentralized, when you have a large presence on the road, you’ve got to have those communications,” he said.
Office 365 has put some more of the spotlight on Lync, which has been an important and growing part of Microsoft’s offering for some time. At the company’s Worldwide Partner Conference in 2011 in Los Angeles, the company raelly strapped the rocket on Lync, promoting to partners as Microsoft’s next – and likely its fastest – product to reach the $1 billion per year mark.
ITUtility.net is currently hosting Lync 2010. Lauzon said that once it completes migrating its hosted SharePoint service to version 2013, likely in a matter of a few weeks, it will turn its attention to offering Lync 2013.