LONDON BT has signed an agreement worth around $7 million which will see it use Microsoft's tools to speed the roll out of Internet-based services to its smaller business customers.
The deal includes providing e-mail, shared calendar and contacts, as well as other software applications. BT first plans to launch is an enhanced e-mail service for based on Microsoft Hosted Exchange.
The deal is seen on improving BT's provision of “software-as-a-service,” a sector that market watchers IDC said was worth $3 billion worldwide in 2003 and which it expects to grow 25 percent worldwide between 2005 and 2008.
Duncan Ingram, managing director of BT Openworld, said, “Our aim is to offer these businesses a way to reduce or eliminate the initial capital outlays and ongoing maintenance costs that are associated with managing IT in-house.”
The solution being deployed by BT includes a suite of Microsoft .NET-based software and service packages designed to enhance connectivity and streamline operational and billing processes.
The project follows extensive trials by BT and Microsoft Consulting Services at the Microsoft Technology Centre (Reading, England), and the Microsoft Partner Solutions Center (Redmond, Wash.), to ensure the carrier-grade scalability and reliability needed to deploy these new hosted IT services on a wide scale.