A few minutes ago, I asked Microsoft Channel Chief Jon Roskill the following question: Can small VARs and MSPs really profit from basic BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite) applications like SharePoint Online and Exchange Online? Or should those small partners begin to focus more on writing their own targeted cloud applications for Windows Azure? Roskill provided these perspectives.

First, let's set the stage: VARs and MSPs receive a flat monthly fee for reselling BPOS applications like Exchange Online and SharePoint Online. In stark contrast, Windows Azure is an extendable cloud platform. Partners can use Azure to write and deploy customer applications in the Microsoft cloud, that means partners can create business assets that deliver even more revenue on Azure.

But Roskill offered some caution. He noted that business app stores are quite different than consumer market places like the Apple App Store. Yes, developers can write applications for Azure. But he also sees opportunities for partners to profit from BPOS add-ons.

How? It sounds like Microsoft plans to take some steps to expand BPOS as a platform that VARs and MSPs can use for application extensions. For instance, Roskill mentioned potential workflow opportunities for VARs and MSPs down the road.

Roskill certainly didn't predict that Microsoft would create a BPOS application marketplace. But the clues he shared suggest BPOS will become more than basic hosted applications. It sounds like Microsoft will find a way for VARs and MSPs to truly add value, rather than simply reselling standard hosted applications.

The press conference with Roskill continues now. Back more later with more thoughts.

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