Microsoft and Eircom in strategic unified comms pact

9 Sep 2009

Software giant Microsoft has entered into a strategic alliance with Ireland’s largest telecoms operator Eircom to provide unified communications and productivity software-plus-service to Irish SMEs.

The companies have created a new broadband and software plus service on demand offering that starts at €5.49 per user for access to key Microsoft productivity software such as Exchange with a 1Gb inbox.

The alliance, described as an industry first in Ireland, will see the combination of Microsoft’s key business solution for email Microsoft Exchange, unified communications Microsoft Office Communicator and collaboration Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services with Eircom’s broadband network.

Both companies say the move will help SMEs to substantially reduce costs and increase productivity.

The new service will see for the first time Eircom customers being able to buy their broadband service and their Microsoft software together and pay for it on a single bill.

For many SME organisations, this simplifies access to these advanced capabilities and provides great flexibility in accessing new services.

“Together with Microsoft, we are bringing a new method of supplying solutions to the Irish market by delivering market-leading software over our next generation broadband network,” said Paul Donovan, chief executive of Eircom.

“This is an exciting initiative that will bring together the best of world-class products and services to the benefit of small and medium-sized businesses and to the wider Irish technology industry.

“In the current economic climate, our customers are seeking affordable solutions to help increase sales and reduce costs. The broad range of services available under this alliance will enable customers to eradicate capital outlay and simply use the service without being IT experts – essentially, it will change the way many Irish businesses operate,” Donovan added.

The products which are included are the core building blocks for business software for many SMEs – covering email (accessed either via a browser or using Microsoft Outlook), collaboration software (for document management, information sharing and portals) and customer relationship management solutions.

The products which are available from launch are: Microsoft Exchange 2007 mail – web access, Microsoft Exchange 2007 mail – with Microsoft Office Outlook email client, Microsoft SharePoint Services v3 and Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Pricing starts from €5.49 per user per month for a 1GB email mailbox, but varies according to storage requirements and services required. The service will be available from Monday, September 21.

“A healthy indigenous small business community is vital to Ireland’s future economic success,” Paul Rellis, country manager for Microsoft in Ireland explained.

“It is important that we continue to look at new and innovative ways to deliver solutions to this community which will help them to work and grow in a cost-effective and efficient manner.

“By giving SMEs easy access to the productivity tools that traditionally would only have been used by larger organisations is something that we believe will be an enabler for growth for small businesses across the country,” Rellis concluded.

Photo: Microsoft Ireland country manager Paul Rellis and Eircom chief executive Paul Donovan.

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years