There’s very little about enterprise software that cloud computing has left untouched, and that includes the relationship between enterprise tech providers like Microsoft and the thousands of partners it works with around the planet, company executives said Tuesday.
Around 95 percent of Microsoft’s commercial cloud revenue — which came in at $9 billion during its last fiscal quarter — is sold through partners, said Gavriella Schuster, corporate vice president for the company’s One Commercial Partner division. The ongoing industry transition from self-managed data centers to cloud providers has created enormous opportunity for Microsoft partners to help companies make that at-times difficult transition, she said in a media briefing.
But this new reality has required Microsoft to change the way it looks at partners, including resellers, independent software vendors, and professional services providers.
“We’ve modernized our approach to how we partner,” Schuster said. In the past, “Microsoft made something, and our partners sold and serviced” that technology, she said, but enterprise tech has become a services business, rather than a product business.
That means Microsoft partners often build custom technology services on top of Azure to help clients move their workloads and data into the cloud, and hundreds of software companies offer their wares directly within Azure through the Azure Marketplace, Schuster said. Gone are the days when Microsoft worked for years on a new version of something like SQL Server and threw it over the wall to partners, who then had to make it work on their clients’ servers.
For example, Microsoft just yesterday increased its partnership with Accenture by launching the Accenture Microsoft Business Group, which builds on the joint partnership the two companies set up in the dot-com era and will include 45,000 people working on Microsoft technologies and services. And Schuster highlighted its recent deal with Kroger on cloud-powered retail services, which has the added bonus of tweaking cloud market-share leader Amazon Web Services.
As part of the briefing, Microsoft announced plans to improve a few aspects of the Azure Marketplace, allowing companies to sell their services with a single click and revamping the user interface. Partners will also be able to set up private marketplaces for customers that need special pricing or deal terms.