Microsoft’s cloud-based productivity suite, Office 365, is now generally available in China through a partnership with 21Vianet, China’s largest carrier-neutral Internet data center service provider. This announcement follows the recent launches of Microsoft Azure and SQL Server 2014.

The public cloud market in China will grow from $297 million in 2011 to $3.8 billion in 2020. The three segments of the virtual private cloud market will grow from $44 million in 2011 to $1.6 billion in 2020. More and more Chinese customers use cloud collaboration SaaS or plan to do so, expecting it to revolutionize their business. What should I&O pros and CIOs in China know about Office 365?

  • Local teams ensure timely responses. 21Vianet has 300 engineers to provide hardware and software service and support for Microsoft Azure and Office 365. For emerging technologies, large Chinese organizations and government agencies like to have local engineers available to quickly solve their problems rather than using a service hotline or remote support.
  • Chinese customers can choose the services they want.Companies and government agencies wishing to purchase Office 365 have a range of tiered pricing options with different functionality, including only buying one Office 365 service — say, SharePoint, Exchange Online, or Lync. As Chinese organizations normally run collaboration applications on-premises, they won’t give up legacy infrastructure, preferring to test public cloud services on a small scale first. For example, TCL uses on-premises email and Office software, so it’s only buying Lync and SharePoint services to improve efficiency instead of completely migrating to a public platform.   
  • The partner ecosystem is growing. Microsoft is building an ecosystem for Office 365. Digital China and Pactera will provide consulting services to Chinese enterprise customers; Taiji, Inspur, Sinsoft, and CS&S will do so for Chinese government agencies. For example, Taiji has developed a collaboration solution for nonconfidential official documents based on the Office 365 platform to improve government agencies’ document processing. Microsoft will also provide implementation and migration support services for large customers.

The service is available at an early-bird discount; Chinese organizations and government agencies can get 20% off of an Office 365 subscription until May 31, 2014. Those buying 150 or more seats can also get rapid deployment through 21Vianet.

If you’re interested in cloud collaboration, please refer to Forrester’s published reports. And if you’re considering the Chinese market:

  • Find a local appropriate partner to help your business internalize processes built on sharing. To achieve business transformation through the cloud, you will need partners that understand how cloud collaboration can alter business processes and what business application integrations are required.
  • Know the challenges of transitioning to the cloud. Regardless of which platform an organization is moving to or from, going to the cloud is an intensive change management initiative. One important first step to adoption is ensuring that workers understand the need for the tools and how to apply them to their jobs.
  • Evaluate security and compliance. The security team needs reassurance that cloud collaboration is feasible.

If you’d like details on how to adopt cloud collaboration SaaS in China or would like to initiate a conversation, please feel free to contact me: