Telstra launched the first stage of its T-Suite online software platform this week, rolling out security, email, CRM, business productivity and backup solutions via a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model.
T-Suite will deliver software applications on demand directly to small-to-medium businesses over the Internet, and is aimed at removing the burden of maintenance and support for software.
In June Telstra told ARN that it would offer the SaaS platform directly to customers, but there would also be opportunities for partners to resell the services.
A Telstra spokesperson said currently no further information on who will, or has been chosen is available.
Telstra said T-Suite aims to provide the kind of proper email systems, backup and security solutions that large corporations and organisations often take for granted.
“When you are a small business you have to start from scratch and do all that yourself; it’s time consuming and costs valuable dollars, especially in the economic climate we're in at the moment. T-Suite gives you the advantage of economies of scale that you don’t normally have as a sole trader or a SMB,” the spokesperson said.
“And as new software comes online it is easily upgradeable, you can jump onto the new version of software as soon as it comes online.”
Telstra Business Group managing director, Deena Shiff, said in a statement that for the first stage of T-Suite solutions, selected Telstra Business customers would be using productivity, security and continuity software.
On the security side McAfee total protection offers desktop and server anti-virus, anti-spyware and anti-malware, a desktop firewall and Web security on an annual subscription that is paid monthly.
MessageLabs email, Web protect and control are also offered on an annual, pay-by-the-month basis offering network and Web protection for five or more users.
Research firm IDC predicted last month that SaaS is set to grow into one of the most important ways for SMBs to buy security technology.
Microsoft’s Exchange service will provide messaging and collaboration capabilities such as shared calendaring, contact and task management, and is available with a free T-suite subdomain for businesses without a custom domain.
Exchange Web Access is available with a free domain to provide email, contact and calendar access remotely.
Microsoft’s SharePoint services and Dynamics CRM (Customer Relationship Management) are also offered as part of the business productivity solutions.
For continuity, T-Suite offers access to Telstra’s remote backup for servers or PCs in Telstra managed datacentres on an annual subscription that is paid monthly.
Shiff said Telstra will soon make further content relationship announcements involving leading Australian and global suppliers, ahead of T-Suites “full scale” market launch early next year.
“We’re in active talks with more than 50 providers including locally produced software to help SMEs comply with regulatory requirements and workforce management. We look forward to welcoming new partners soon,” Shiff said.
Telstra’s spokesperson said more information on T-Suite’s full scale launch and details of coming software services sourced through new partners would be available later.
Analysts at Gartner say the current economic downturn is sparking increased interest in SaaS.
One of the leading SaaS vendors, Salesforce.com, recently indicated that the economic woes may lower SaaS prices as providers look to remain competitive.
The launch of T-Suite arrives at the same time as a new local consultancy outfit, SaaS Mentor, which aims to provide SMEs with ways to best use SaaS platforms.