Expanding a relationship that began in the 1990s that saw the rise of Sympatico, the biggest Internet portal in Canada, Bell Canada and Microsoft Corp. have partnered once again to bring cloud-based Software-as-a-Service to business customers.
Bell’s offering will provide customers with hosted services like Exchange, SharePoint, Live Meeting and Office Communicator on a monthly subscription model. It will be available early next year to Bell customers in Q1 or Q2.
The interest in the new service has been strong among small-and medium-sized enterprises, according to Paul Rowe, Bell Business Market’s vice president of marketing, who attributed the enthusiasm to a desire in the space to buy services through a SaaS model. “They like the flexibility in terms of purchasing what they need, when they need it,” he said. “They also like the fact that when it comes to what they need to run their business, whether it’s voice services or broadband Internet or MPOS (mobile point-of-sale), that they can come to one provider to get those services.”
While SMBs are likely to be the early adopters of Bell’s new SaaS offering, large customers like banks, insurance companies and governments have also shown interest. “But they’re not ready to move yet,” Rowe said. “They have issues around data sovereignty, where their data sits, security and privacy. But we did get feedback that they’re pleased to see us moving in this direction. They see the value of the partnership.”
And why exactly should SMBs be looking at the SaaS offering? For the simplicity of it all, according to Rowe. It allows organizations to purchase services as they need them. “When a customer signs up, they receive an admin ID, they go into their browser … sign in, and the service is up and working for their employees,” Rowe explained. “The alternative is buying a server, figuring out where to install it, finding a technical person who can load the software and do all those sorts of things. So it’s the simplicity of activating the service and the flexibility of buying only what you need.”