Microsoft Corp. and Australian operator Telstra have announced their intention to enter into a broad strategic alliance to bring together business software applications, mobile services and devices, and integrated computer and telephone services over Telstra’s Next IP and Next G networks.
Holly Kramer, Telstra Group Managing Director, Product Management, said Telstra and Microsoft would collaborate to deliver truly integrated communications services to Australian businesses.
“Telstra is excited to have the opportunity to partner with Microsoft to bring to market the best of both worlds — world-leading applications from Microsoft delivered over Telstra’s world-class networks — all in a seamless one-click, one-touch user experience,” Kramer said. “Our customers are seeing convergence between networks and applications and between fixed and mobile devices. We are turning this convergence into meaningful products that deliver a better user experience and productivity benefits for their businesses. This is true unified communications — a combination of telephony, e-mail, mobility, conferencing, collaboration and tools like presence — and it will change the way many Australian businesses operate.”
The companies plan for the first products to be introduced in the market by mid-2009.
Tracey Fellows, Microsoft Australia’s managing director, said Australian businesses stood to benefit from a wide range of next-generation technologies that are simple, low-maintenance and cost-effective, allowing employees to achieve more, in more places.
“Today’s news marks a watershed moment in helping bring a new generation of powerful software and services to a wider audience of Australian businesses,” Fellows said. “In particular, the planned alliance would provide small and medium-sized businesses, of which there are over 1.8 million in Australia, access to products and services that were formerly only available to large companies with well-resourced IT budgets and infrastructure.”
The alliance intends to offer a range of next-generation services that are simple to install and use, and require lower maintenance than many current offerings.
A wide range of business and government segments would potentially benefit from an array of new services. Services contemplated under the alliance include the following:
• Hosted business applications. Through Telstra’s T Suite portal, it is contemplated that businesses will have access to popular Microsoft business software, known as Microsoft Online Services, which will be hosted by Microsoft in the cloud and delivered as a subscription service.
• Mobile services and devices. An all-in-one mobile e-mail, calendar, contacts, Web browser, business software and phone solution including security features, automatic software upgrades, support and data plan is envisaged. Advanced mobile phone fleet management and a new user interface developed by Telstra giving users one-click access to their frequently used business applications on Windows Mobile phones is contemplated.
• Unified communications. Integrating Telstra’s premium hosted IP Telephony service (TIPT) with Microsoft Office applications, including Microsoft Office Communicator, is proposed, creating a new set of productivity tools that make it easier to control the way businesses communicate.