Microsoft and Orange Announce Software as a Service collaboration

May 22, 2007

innovative SAAS  (or is it CAAS) service for hosted Unified Communications and Collaboration

                France Telecom

this announced by France Telecom today (Monday) a service in which Microsoft and Orange Business Services have teamed up to provide unified communications and collaboration tools to multinationals:

the full transcript :

Orange Business Services and Microsoft today announced “Business Together with Microsoft”, an innovative collaborative solution to accelerate the use of unified communications in companies. “Business Together with Microsoft” also helps companies keep up with the latest market requirements for fast communication, constant contact with colleagues, customers and partners, and efficient information sharing.

“Business Together with Microsoft” lets companies radically improve the communication habits of their employees. It gives access to a range of tools that they can use either when mobile or from their workstation. They can take advantage of new services, with total security, from any terminal that is equipped with a compatible web browser. Through a single Windows Outlook interface, they can access their mailbox, view voice messages as emails, read faxes, make voice over IP calls, and access their contacts and calendar. They can also communicate in real time through audio, video, web conferencing or instant messaging.  In addition, they can also manage and share documents and calendars. An encrypted link to their mailbox gives them access to powerful search functions.

Orange Business Services tailors “Business Together with Microsoft” to meet individual customer needs. The complete range of services includes consulting and audits, migration to IP, integration, managed IT infrastructure and applications services, and outsourcing.

“There is a huge demand for collaborative solutions in today’s working environment,” says Laurent Kocher, vice president, Global Services, Orange Business Services. “Cooperative work between employees in different locations across time zones is expected to make up more than half of a typical office employee’s work time by 2015. Companies need to provide staff with the tools to respond quickly to constant demands for attention and an efficient way to manage multiple types of contact”.

“Business Together with Microsoft” is currently available for multinational companies across the world, and is based on the complementary nature of the new generation of software launched recently by Microsoft: Office Communications Server 2007, Exchange Server 2007, Forefront and Office SharePoint Server.

“Business Together with Microsoft” leverages the complementary skills and expertise of the two companies: Orange Business Services in the area of messaging, IP convergence and network-related services; Microsoft in unified communications and collaboration solutions.

It’s an interesting alliance, Microsoft and Orange have been working closely together for some time and this is the first public tangible product to appear.

Reading between the lines it appears to be an Outlook Web Access portal providing access to Sharepoint for collaboration and the UC features of Exchange 2007 with Office Communications Server 2007 providing a VoIP portal, I suspect to Orange SIP trunks.

A packaged unified communications Inbox with Presence, Instant messaging, collaboration  and VoIP calls from wherever you can get access to a browser a very useful suite of applications

An interesting and maybe risky combination as OCS 2007 is still in beta, nevertheless an interesting proposition for the multinational with many mobile workers.

We are going to see a lot more of this,  in my opinion SAAS is about to explode.

I think it’ll have more impact and be much more interesting amongst the smaller business community, imagine if you could have access to all this big company technology with small company agility and no headaches of management……. watch this space…….

I’d  be very interested to see the appetite for managed hosted services out there amongst the smaller business community, if you have an opinion why not share it?

Is SAAS finally coming of age?

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