Office 365 is undoubtedly a significant change point for Microsoft. But bullish statements of it being a change point for the industry can be misleading and underplay service solutions already delivered by its rivals in this space, most notably Google.

What Office 365 clearly represents is a business service offering that provides benefits and a clear value proposition to Small and Medium Business organizations (SMBs).  This does not mean that businesses of all sizes and classes can’t also share in those benefits. But, the pricing and licensing structure, the ease of configuration and management, and the partnership strategy are particularly well aligned to the needs and desires of this specific segment of the market audience.

Whilst enterprises are also being targeted, the direct targeting of small businesses at the launch of Office 365 points to Microsoft making a strong bet on an audience community that has long been a powerbase for the company. In the UK the majority of new job roles have reportedly come on the back of small businesses making Microsoft’s bet, a good one.

Ramping up and down according to resource needs is a key service delivery requirement that is not always easily catered for. Providing good exit strategies is as important as enabling easy access to a service. It is a lesson that some providers still have difficulty implementing. The flexible movement and preventing lock-in is a high priority for the Office 365 team which reflects a commitment to competing on service delivery. It is a necessary and welcomed mindset, but as with anything in this industry, the proof will be in the execution.

Given Microsoft’s software plus services strategy and framework, providing the flexibility for customers to easily migrate from a service-based solution to an on-premise version within the Microsoft portfolio, should be relatively straightforward. Allowing customers to move to another service provider will be less so.

The company, like many others in the market and industry are on a journey with the various Cloud computing technologies and delivery models, especially in their application across its business and product portfolio. Microsoft has begun to understand how to leverage its history and experiences of managing a big business to serve its Cloud operations. Like other suppliers of similar size and market leadership flexibility, hybrid solution support, and business knowledge knowhow is what Microsoft believes will help deliver the success metrics that it has set itself for Office 365: service adoption and partner engagement.

How both the supply and demand-side adjusts to the various Cloud models and bring their business experiences and knowledge to bear will be key to determining the real winners in this market.

Soon to be published on our Research page, is a Creative Intellect Consulting Spotlight report on the Office 365 announcements which provides a more detailed commentary on the Office 365 service offering.