Optus today announced that it will include Google Apps for Business in its portfolio of digital business products for small and medium businesses.
Optus' new set of cloud-based business tools will include email, calendaring, office applications, instant messaging, collaboration and video-conferencing, and will be launched in the second quarter of this year. Product and pricing details are yet to be revealed, however, and the commercial terms of the agreement are being kept confidential.
Optus small and medium business managing director Rohan Ganeson said the agreement would help SMBs to move to the cloud with Google. "Our aim is to provide SMBs with an integrated suite of cloud-based business tools that enables them to connect, manage and promote their business more cost-effectively," he said.
The move — which marks Optus' entry into the software-as-a-service market — ignites competition with rival telco Telstra, which two years ago signed a deal with Microsoft to offer cloud services to its business customers through Telstra's T-Suite platform.
Ganeson maintained that SMBs would benefit from the new offer as Optus would take responsibility for delivering the services they needed. "Whether it's establishing an online presence, collaborating within the business or reaching new customers, SMBs don't have to worry about maintaining the back-end IT systems," he said. "We are providing small businesses with the tools and support that big businesses have at their disposal today."
Optus is inviting companies interested in the new offer to register their data in order to be contacted prior to its deployment.
Google's Asia-Pacific Enterprise division managing director, Doug Farber, said that Optus' middle-man role would ease the adoption of applications-as-a-service by SMBs. He said often businesses were not informed on the real costs and procedures necessary to join the cloud and thought the practice to be out of their reach.
"Australian SMBs often would like to invest in better communication and collaboration tools, but they assume that it's too expensive or complicated," he said. "Our association with Optus today aims to remove these barriers."