BlueTie_logo_2010.jpg In the run up to the official launch of Office365 later this year there’s going to be a lot of elbow-shoving the SMB market. Companies that have traditionally served that space are going to have to come up with new ideas. New York based BlueTie is one such company and has just announced a restructuring of its reseller program for its file-sharing software Smartbins, released last month.

BlueTie is a SaaS vendor that offers a cloud-based email, calendaring and collaboration application suite, integrated with the Web's most useful services.

Office365 and SMBs

The problem for companies like Blue Tie is that once Office365 is released, SMBs will be able to access applications that to date have been too expensive for them.

To recap, Office365 consists of Microsoft’s web-based Office services, including SharePoint, Exchange and Lync (formerly Communications Server), as well as a subscription version of Office that it hopes will bolster Office Web Apps.

The result is that companies that serve the SMB market are going to have to adapt. BlueTie has done this first with the launch of file sharing and document management software called Smartbins and now with the restructuring of its reseller program around Smartbins.

BlueTie’s Smartbins

Smartbins offers some of the functionality of SharePoint Online in that it enables users to put files into the cloud and share them with designated users who can access them anytime and from any place.

It also lets users tag files with contextual information rather than forcing them to bury them in assigned folders. Files can also be placed in workflows required for business processes.

While that’s very useful and a considerable addition to BlueTie’s cloud email offerings that also compete with Microsoft, in the current climate the real differentiator is going to be price. This is where the reseller restructuring comes in.

The first thing BlueTie has done is to build a reseller program that is specifically for Smartbins. It also created a ‘white-label’ system whereby resellers will be able to brand Smartbins as their own. According to BlueTie, the Smartbins program can offer partners margins ranging from 40 percent to 60 percent, free API integration and a dedicated team for support.

Leaving aside pricing issues, it also means that because Smartbins has been separated from BlueTie’s email offerings, resellers can offer it separately. SMBs that wish to invest in file sharing software, but who are tied in to other vendors for email or collaboration software like Google Apps, will still be able to go with BlueTie if they wish.

BlueTie and Office365

Essentially what BlueTie has done is to make itself as flexible as possible in the run-up to the Office365 launch. It is still not clear how Office365 will be priced at a component level and it may end up that SMBs will be forced into buying into applications they don’t actually want to use to get those that they do want.

And then there is also the issue of SharePoint itself and how appropriate it is for SMBs. SharePoint, for enterprises at the smaller end of the SMB scale, is probably too big and complicated to use. If companies are using it for file sharing or document management it would probably be better to get something less complicated and ultimately cheaper.

There will be a lot more play in the Office365 space before it becomes generally available, so watch this space.