Why Microsoft Really Bought Yammer

By Paul Rubens, CIO |  Unified Communications, Microsoft, Social Networking

One of the first questions that many people asked when Microsoft announced the deal was whether the company would take Yammer and turn it in to an on-premise offering as well as offering a cloud-based service, in the same way that SharePoint is available to run on-premise or from the cloud. Microsoft indicated that this is unlikely in the near term, but has been far from definitive. "I don't think in a fully on-premises world we can imagine moving the cloud capabilities into the on premises" is how Microsoft's Delbene put it.

But given that Yammer's success has largely been based on the fact that as a cloud service it is available instantly to anyone and responsive to customers' needs of, it is hard to see how Microsoft could move to a cloud and on-premise hybrid model for Yammer without those benefits disappearing.

Yammer and Microsoft Customers

So what does the acquisition mean to existing Microsoft customers—whether they are users of on-premise products, or its new breed of cloud based services?

In the short term nothing much will change, although the use of Yammer though integration with products like SharePoint has certainly been legitimized: Any worries about the financial credibility of a young company like Yammer, and whether it is wise to rely it for any type of business software, have now effectively been removed. And end users that want more integration between Microsoft's products and Yammer are unlikely to be disappointed.

Conversely, it's not clear that Yammer remaining agnostic when it comes to integration with other products is in Microsoft's best interests. Yammer's integration with Salesforce.com enhances the service, which competes with Microsoft's Dynamics, and that means end users that rely on Salesforce.com may find that Yammer integration starts disappearing.

In June, Microsoft started installing Skype—which it acquired in 2011 and has kept as a standalone service - automatically onto corporate machines via Windows Server Update Service (WSUS). This strategy was reversed after complaints from corporate administrators, so it seems unlikely that Microsoft will try foist the Yammer app on to businesses in a similar fashion.

So the big question is how existing Microsoft customers will get their hands on Yammer's social features, and - more importantly - how they will be expected to pay for it. And what about Yammer integrations? Will Yammer features just appear one day as part of Dynamics, Office 365, SharePoint, or Skype? And if so, will Yammer's premium services be included as part of an enterprise license, will they be free, or will customers have to pay extra to use them?

Originally published on CIO |  Click here to read the original story.
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