I have always believed that you can turn something we consider a commodity into a value added service by understanding and addressing your customer needs. I came across a good example of how this can be done when I was visiting Korea two weeks ago. I met a reseller of Microsoft's Services Providers Licensing Agreement (SPLA) called CubeCore. They took the Dynamic Data Center Toolkit to create an automation platform to enable hosters and telcos to build cloud services for the Asian market. Because they are also a SPLA reseller, they are in a unique position to leverage their relationship with their licensing partners to provide them the solutions to grow their business in addition to being a licensed reseller. Through this value added service, they have positioned themselves as being more than just a reseller, but a trusted consultant to help their partners grow their business. One interesting feature of their automation solution is that they had integrated a reporting tool called MAPS 5.0 (now in Beta) that allows hosters to inventory the software in use to make reporting easier for their partners. By providing unique value added solutions, they have turned a commoditized, non-differentiated, transactional business model to a value added service. They have just taken the first step in expanding their addressable market. What if they extended their automation suite to include shared, dedicated hosting and application hosting for Exchange, Sharepoint, CRM so that they can become one stop shop for their partners? While not all resellers have the expertise to build automation solutions, they can add more value to their partners. We have developed the Hosting University to serve that purpose. Take a look and let me know what you think.

Hyder Ali, industry director, Microsoft Communications Sector