Software Wholesale International (SWI) began in 2003 out of Longmont, Colorado. Through their partnership with Microsoft, they survived tight times during the recession and have grown into a multi-million dollar volume licensing business. Now, with renewed hopes for the future, SWI is once again banking on Microsoft and its solutions as it prepares to become an enterprise reseller of Microsoft Office 365 with its new online services division, SWI Global Services.
Software Wholesale International (SWI) started out as a small software reseller in 2003 in Boulder County, Colorado, with a goal to become a market leader in delivering software licensing to businesses and organizations in the US. In keeping with this goal, SWI made a decision to partner with Microsoft early on in their development.
“We realized several years back that cloud services would be something that we could really benefit from,” says SWI President, Stuart Robertson, “so we aligned around Microsoft directives and have started to get this business off the ground.”
||Office Pro Plus in Office 365 is a smaller download with improved functionality. It downloads faster and the time to deploy it is much quicker.
SWI, which currently has 10 employees, also saw that aligning itself with legal software solutions via its partnership with Microsoft was critical. “Our vision has always been long-term. Short-term profit selling pirated software is just that – it’s short-term play and very dangerous.”
Thanks to its timely partnership with Microsoft, SWI was able to weather the economic hardships of the last few years. “We had a set amount of revenue coming through from second and third-year billings,” says Robertson, “so it really helped us through.” According to Robertson, it was the fulfillment of all their expectations in partnering with Microsoft. “[Our partnership] did what we were hoping it would do, and delivered what Microsoft had promised.”
Having survived the economic storm, SWI is now in a time of expansion. They recently acquired another SI company, which will be incorporated into SWI as a new services division known as SWI Global. In order to buffet this next round of growth, SWI has once again turned to Microsoft and its comprehensive offerings.Solution
SWI’s recent round of success with Microsoft had come through sales of Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010 and the Business Productivity Online Standard Suite (BPOS), a set of cloud-based messaging and collaboration tools which include Microsoft Exchange Online, Microsoft SharePoint Online, Microsoft Office Live Meeting and Microsoft Office Communications Online.
Robertson describes the two solutions as a fantastic unified front for the company to promote to users. “Selling BPOS really helps us to sell more Microsoft Office and Microsoft Office helps us to sell more BPOS. It’s a great marriage.”
Having deployed BPOS to nearly 1,000 users, SWI was eager to see Microsoft’s next step in online solutions and decided to take part in the Microsoft Office 365 Beta.
“We knew that we were going to be eventually transitioning over to Microsoft Office 365,” says Robertson, “so we wanted to be ready for that transition and to know what was coming. We really believe that if you’re going to sell it, you got to know it, and that means using it.”
They also wanted to get an idea early on of Microsoft’s level of commitment to improving its online solutions. SWI had received plenty of positive feedback on BPOS. However, Robertson and his team hoped for even better things to come via Microsoft Office 365.
“We feel that BPOS is a very strong and stable product,” says Robertson, “but being an incubational product, there’s always something to improve. There’s always new functionality and better ways to do things.”
SWI was excited to take part in a test run of Microsoft’s next offering to see how they could leverage it into more revenue for the company. Benefits
An Improved Product
The improvements in Microsoft Office 365 were immediately clear to Robertson and his team, and they were confident that their clients would feel the same way. “We were really pleased to find out [during Beta] that Microsoft Office 365 has been a great step in improving BPOS, which we already thought was a great product.”
He interpreted the improvements as a display of Microsoft’s dedication to its solutions and, as an extension, its partners. “It’s great to see Microsoft’s commitment to the Microsoft Office 365 brand.”
||Selling BPOS really helps us to sell more Microsoft Office and Microsoft Office helps us to sell more BPOS. It’s a great marriage.
Robertson says he has gotten great feedback on the new product features in Microsoft Office 365. Much of it stems from the benefits of having Office Professional Plus delivered as part of the Office 365 offering, and the accessibility of Office apps via the cloud. “It’s a very nice integration,” Robertson says.
There’s an ease of delivery with Office Professional Plus in Microsoft Office 365 as well. “Office Pro Plus in Office 365 is a smaller download with improved functionality. It downloads faster and the time to deploy it is much quicker.”
Even a small change to the download delivery has made a big difference. “The code is coming down now as an .EXE as opposed to an ISO, and that has simplified installation quite a bit for end-users. Not everybody is technical and knows how to burn an ISO,” says Robertson. “With the .EXE you just download it and it’s done quickly.”
SharePoint and Exchange Upgrades
Robertson and his team love the new product features on Microsoft SharePoint and Microsoft Exchange and are looking forward to showing their clients these features. “If people haven’t seen Microsoft SharePoint 2010, they’re going to be really pleasantly surprised.”
A new usability to Microsoft SharePoint and improved functionality through the online services delivery model has made its mark on the team. “It’s got a great interface, updated editing utilities. It’s more of an Office look with the ribbon on top. It’s very intuitive to edit the site, much more than in previous versions,” he says.
Robertson noted that with Microsoft Exchange Online, Microsoft has delivered on the initial promise of the hosted email and messaging solution.
He says: “Microsoft Exchange has brought in some archiving internally and some advanced functionality that BPOS didn’t really deliver. It’s giving you a lot of what you had with Microsoft Exchange on-premise, but now you’ve got a host so you don’t have to worry about the hardware upgrade.”
Speed and Accessibility
One of Robertson’s favorite aspects of Microsoft Office 365 is the quick and easy of use of Office Web Apps.
“If you just need to make a quick edit, for example, and you want to update a Microsoft Excel cell, you can just go on very quickly, update it and you’re done, “ he says.
He’s also seen improved integration between Office Web Apps and mobile devices. “I’ve been seeing some really strong mobility uses for Office Web Apps, in particular with the Windows 7 phone. This enhanced integration is giving the end user what they want. You look at the integration, the mobility…Office Web Apps really helps with the mobile access that everyone is relying on more heavily these days.”
Communications in the cloud have also taken a leap forward with Lync Online. Robertson says, “Lync is a huge movement in the progression of a unified communications platform.” He had already been impressed with Office Communicator and Live Meeting, but “moving forward, Lync is going to be just so much better. We’re looking forward to that.”
The administration of BPOS has improved dramatically with Microsoft Office 365.
“With BPOS, the administrative features were spread out over different utilities,” says Robertson. Microsoft Office 365, in contrast, offers a unified front and consolidation. “With Microsoft Office 365, [administration] is much simpler, with a cleaner interface,” says Robertson. It was just the tweak the product needed.
He says: “We found with BPOS that functionality was very good, and the stability was very good, but in terms of administration we felt there could be some consolidation, and Microsoft has done that with Office 365.”
A Partnership for the Future
Satisfied with the success of Microsoft Office 365, Robertson and SWI are excited to make the transition to becoming a full enterprise reseller of the new offering.
He says: “We’re getting new clients every week, for sure, and sometimes every day.” He sees this steady tick upward continuing as SWI transitions into Microsoft Office 365 licensing.
“You hear about hockey stick growth in our business and I think it’s pretty true,” says Robertson. “You just have to look at the numbers and you can predict the same growth.”
By hitching its future prospects on Microsoft Office 365, SWI is optimistic about growth. “I don’t really know how any small to medium-sized,or even large business, would go any other way…It’s a solution that fits in with our company ethos and company plan.”
This perfect fit gives Robertson and SWI confidence as they expand. “We know how to deliver these agreements, multi-year agreements, company-wide agreements, comprehensive type agreements. This is a language SWI already speaks fluently. Then you bring in Microsoft Office 365 and our implementation power. It’s really a no-brainer.”
Microsoft Office 365
Microsoft Office 365 delivers the power of cloud productivity to businesses of all sizes, helping to save time, money and free up valued resources. Office 365 combines the familiar Office desktop suite with cloud-based versions of our next-generation communications and collaboration services: Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and Lync Online. Office 365 is simple to use and easy to administer – all backed by the robust security and financially-backed, guaranteed reliability you expect from a world-class service provider. For more information about Microsoft Office, go to: www.office.com
For More Information
For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-2495. Customers in the United States and Canada who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to:
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