Telstra has launched its T-Suite SMB SaaS platform with a modest, but prudent, nine services on offer. The launch cleverly offers a solution to SMB angst regarding compliance with new industrial relations laws, as a direct local-market value-add to complement the more generic SaaS offerings.
T-Suite is a carefully measured step forward on SaaS
Telstra officially launched its T-Suite software-as-a-service (SaaS) retail platform today, following a period of online beta that started in mid-2008. T-Suite targets small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) offering easy web access, try before you buy, pay as you go etc. as well as single sign-on and aggregated billing.
The mix of services remains somewhat limited but covers the essentials:
Manage my business processes: Workforce Guardian, an HR service to assist companies to comply with Australian employment laws. WORKetc, an integrated suite of tools for common business processes such as quoting, invoicing, tracking sales leads and reporting.
Manage my communications: Exchange Mail and Sharepoint from Microsoft and file sharing from Skoot.
Manage my customers: Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
Secure my business data: Data security and backup services from Iron Mountain, McAfee and Message Labs.
Telstra claims to be in discussions with a pipeline of 6080 ISVs to select those with the right stuff for T-Suite. New services currently in the pipeline include accounting, online marketing, supply-chain management and compliance, as well as vertical-specific applications such as in the health, education and environment sectors.
Support is provided via online help and a dedicated Telstra service centre, with calls being passed back to the ISVs if required. Sales will be driven by Telstras existing SMB sales channels and channel partners, and the T-Suite launch coincides neatly with the opening of 67 new face-to-face business centres targeting the SMB sector.
Telstras target market differs from Googles it is right to be cautious
Telstra could be accused of being a bit slow off the gun with T-Suite compared to Googles more cavalier approach to online beta. We see the SMB SaaS market as quite different to Googles global consumer market smaller and less forgiving of false starts and under-baked services.
Notwithstanding the general appeal of SaaS, it will be a difficult decision for many SMBs to abandon their current IT arrangements and switch to T-Suite. Many SMBs will likely require multiple sales and support call interactions to decide to buy, migrate from their existing services and get things working properly.
If and when they trial the service and decide to switch, it had better live up to expectations. Telstra is right to be very choosy about the ISVs that it admits onto the T-Suite platform and to carefully test the offerings before going live.
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