Sage has announced a new global partnering agreement with Microsoft, which is designed to fulfill several important objectives, improving the long-time Microsoft relationship, creating new synergies with Salesforce, and providing new solutions on the Azure and Office 365 platforms.
“Sage has been a Microsoft partner for 20 years, but historically we have not gone to Microsoft with one voice,” said Alan Laing, EVP, global strategic partnerships and alliances at Sage. “Sage was a very decentralized company, and we had multiple different relationships which were different by product and different by region. When Stephen Kelly was appointed as CEO, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella reached out to him. He said Microsoft had liked working with Sage in the past and would really like to take the relationship to a new level.” Partnering with Microsoft with a single, consistent Sage voice will strengthen the relationship.
Laing said Sage also wanted to send a signal to the market, customers and partners that their important partnership with Salesforce announced in May around Sage Live did not imply any lesser significance being attached to their long-time Microsoft relationship.
“We wanted to signify that the Sage Live partnership with Salesforce did not mean that the close relationship with them meant a less close one with Microsoft,” he said. “We wanted to signify where we are going with Microsoft. This enables tighter integration Azure and with Office 3365.”
Laing indicated that they see very strong new three-way synergies going forward with both Salesforce and Microsoft.
“We see an exciting three-way linkup here,” he said. “When we built Sage Live on the Salesforce platform, some thought that it was not in Microsoft’s interests because of Azure. But we don’t see Azure as a competitor to what Salesforce is doing. They are highly complementary to each other. The fact they are good friends and partners with each other and with us makes this a very compelling play for SMBs.”
That SMB focus will remain despite the expanded Microsoft relationship.
“Our customers are mainly small businesses,” Laing said. “That’s where the demand is. That’s where companies need better tools. There may come a day when this agreement helps us move more into the enterprise, but it’s not now.”
So what can Sage customers and partners expect to see from the relationship, and when?
In broad terms, the agreement means that Sage’s accounting and bookkeeping productivity tools will be more tightly integrated with Microsoft cloud solutions. New Sage products will also be built for the Azure and Office 365 platforms.
‘Some of our products are already on the Azure platform, but by the end of this calendar year we may have something further to announce,” Laing said.
Laing said that this expanded partnership will be a very big channel deal, for Sage partners, Microsoft partners, and Sage itself.
“Partners will have tighter integration with Microsoft,” he said. “If they are a Microsoft partner they can use Sage to smash the line between front and back offices that Sage Live is all about. For the channel, this is a huge opportunity. This new relationship will also help us be more effective, and help us attract new partners.”