Posted on February 1, 2016

Queensland Microsoft partner CloudFirst will deploy nearly 2,500 Office 365 seats for major real estate group Harcourts.

The win follows CloudFirst’s appointment among the initial batch of ‘Cloud Solution Providers, or CSPs, Microsoft’s name for companies that can provide monthly or annual billing; “programmatic lifecycle maintenance”; and 24/7 end customer support – both billing and tier-one and tier-two technical support. Microsoft called for applications from the channel to join the CSP program at last year’s Australian Partner Conference (APC).CloudFirst, which was previously called Inverse Curve, secured one of the the initial spots on the program with a vertical-focused suite dubbed ‘Franchise First’.

“What we decided to do was create a platform for franchising, but powered by Microsoft’s enormous cloud, which includes productivity and management services. What we can do today is actually build a service that’s specifically for that vertical, it speaks directly to them,” said Brad Rappell, managing director of Cloud First.

Harcourts already had 100 Office 365 seats; under the new deal, CloudFirst will roll the suite out that another 2,400 users across nearly 400 Australian franchise operations.

These new tenants will be hosted locally in Australia, with news announced today that Microsoft has gone live at two data centres.

Harcourts’ existing instances, currently hosted in Microsoft’s Singapore point of presence, will be progressively migrated to Australia. “Their corporate head office will transition to new tenants as part of this process and customers purchasing after 1 April, and any new tenants, will be hosted and backed up in Australia,” said Rappell.

He told CRN that the Office 365 subscription model was easier than Microsoft’s Enterprise Agreement licensing or cloud rebate model for making inroads into the franchise world.

As a CSP, Cloud First owns the billing relationship with the client, which already improves the margin over the more common “Partner of Record” model, but Rappell said the real upside is in attaching managed services, training and CloudFirst’s own intellectual property to the deal.

Franchise First combines Office 365, Azure and Microsoft’s Enterprise Mobility Suite into a single platform specifically tailored to the franchise sector.

For instance, it supports systems and processes around disclosure, which is regulated by the Australian Franchising Code of Conduct. “You need to demonstrate that that you have been transparent,” said Rappell. “We have taken that concept – with Office 365, which is a platform for communication and collaboration – and we taken that into the Franchise First product.”

CloudFirst claims to be one of Microsoft’s top O365 and Azure partners, as the only Australian Microsoft partner with two spots on its worldwide partner advisory council; the company worked on the first enterprise deployment of Office 365 in Australia.

You can read more here: http://www.crn.com.au/News/402227,office-365-partner-wins-2500-seat-deal-for-real-estate.aspx#ixzz3eKJ0JTpN

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