Cloud services overview: Pursuing a new business model
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Microsoft cloud sales are climbing and Azure partners are along for the ride.
The company last week said its Azure revenue grew 93% year over year as it reported results for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2016. The annualized revenue run rate for Microsoft's commercial cloud business, a segment that includes Azure, now surpasses $14 billion, according to the company.
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Azure partners have observed increasing customer interest in Microsoft's public cloud.
"We have seen a healthy uptick in Azure inquiries over the past year," noted David Lucky, director of product management at Datapipe Inc., a managed hosting and cloud services provider.
In the fourth quarter, Datapipe experienced an increase in Azure inquires of more than 25% compared with Q3 and a 40% rise compared with the year-earlier quarter.
"We've seen inquiries ranging from managing and running SQL Server to utilizing Azure Site Recovery. One area we have seen trending up is queries related to compliance focused deployments on Azure including PCI [Payment Card Industry] e-commerce-related applications," Lucky said.
David Luckydirector of product management, Datapipe
Ramakant Pandrangi, vice president of Microsoft Clouds at Rackspace, said the company is seeing strong demand for the company's Fanatical Support for Azure. Rackspace's support package wraps a number of managed services around Azure, including architectural design guidance, application and data migration, monitoring and patching. Pandrangi said he sees demand from large enterprises, in particular, for Azure support. He cited the example of Oxfam, which is using Rackspace's Azure support in the United Kingdom to migrate to the cloud.
He said the primary use cases for Azure managed services among enterprise customers include: migrating and running apps in Azure as a data center consolidation mechanism, transforming legacy applications to benefit from the cloud's speed and agility, and creating new, cloud-native apps.
While Azure is gaining momentum, it still lags Amazon Web Services by a considerable margin. Synergy Research Group in October 2016 pegged AWS' global infrastructure-as-a-service market share at 45%. Microsoft, Google and IBM, the research firm noted, combined for a market slice of about 19%, "despite Microsoft and Google having much higher growth rates."
The higher growth rate, however, has helped solidify Microsoft's position as the No. 2 public cloud company.
"MS Azure is now firmly the second best cloud computing platform only behind Amazon Web Services," stated Estimize, a website that provides crowdsourced earnings and economic estimates.
Azure partners drive adoption
Azure partners, meanwhile, stand to play a role in further boosting the cloud's market acceptance. Microsoft's Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program, the company's channel initiative for cloud resellers and managed service providers, has grown significantly since its launch in 2015. Microsoft said some 20,000 partners are selling through the CSP program.
"I believe CSP is going to be a key driver behind the mass adoption of Azure," said Kirill Bensonoff, founder of Unigma, a cloud management company.
He called Azure "the perfect product to sell" for Microsoft partners pursuing subscription sales opportunities. Unigma's unified cloud management product, which spans Azure, AWS and Google Cloud Platform, recently added support for CSPs.
More evidence of Azure's channel growth comes from NetEnrich, a cloud and IT operations services company. NetEnrich said it has "experienced significant growth in 2016," with its Azure practice leading the way. NetEnrich lets partners white label its setup, migration and management services for Azure.
"I think Microsoft has done a very good job of selling Azure to its channel ecosystem," said Chris Joseph, vice president of product management and marketing at NetEnrich.
NetEnrich reported new distributors including Tech Data, Synnex and Westcon in the US; Tech Data in Europe; SoftBank in Japan; and Ingram Micro in Australia and New Zealand. New reseller relationships include Compete366, Aldridge, Pointclick, Protech, Restech and Tukuru.
- Barracuda Networks released new virtual and public cloud versions of Barracuda NextGen Firewall -- Intronis MSP Edition. The firewalls feature a dedicated centralized management console, which Barracuda said enables MSPs to rapidly create reports as well as pre-configured templates for easy deployment. MSPs can bundle the firewalls with Intronis data protection products, such as Intronis ECHOplatform, and Barracuda Backup -- Intronis MSP Edition.
- Information Builders, a business intelligence (BI) software maker, launched Analytics Accelerator, a partner program for selling WebFOCUS BI and analytics software. The vendor said the Analytics Accelerator program is unlike its existing programs, which permit partners to simply refer deals to the vendor's direct sales team or resell WebFOCUS Business User Edition. Analytics Accelerator lets partners refer or resell the entire WebFOCUS portfolio, providing margin protection, market development funds, a tiered discount structure, free sales and technical enablement, among other benefits.
- Kaseya announced general availability of VSA 9.4, the latest version of its remote monitoring and management offering. The product, the company said, features improved discovery and cloud-based backup. The latter comes through a third-party integration with Acronis.
- IT trade association CompTIA published four free guides to overcoming common business operation challenges. The new Quick Start Guide contains best practices for contracts and negotiations, hiring, marketing, and merging or selling a technology business.
- Securematics Inc. said it has added Samsung Electronics America's enterprise Wi-Fi products, including access points and controllers, to its distributor line card.
- NIIT Technologies Ltd., an IT solutions organization, has joined Duck Creek Technologies' Global Alliance Program as a certified Delivery Partner. Duck Creek offers property and casualty insurance software and services.
- Corero Network Security launched SmartProtect, a program that the company said enables DDoS protection as a service for hosting providers and internet service providers.
- Cloud distributor Pax8 named Jennifer Bodell as its director of emerging channel. In her new role, Bodell will oversee Pax8's key channel relationships. Bodell's previous roles include channel leadership positions at StorageCraft.
- Avoka, which focuses on digital customer acquisition for financial services, said it has appointed Cliff van Tonder as executive vice president for partner sales in EMEA.
- Pulsar360 Inc., a telecommunication solutions provider, promoted Robert Harrison Jr. to chief channel officer.
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