Beancounters at Canalys say that AWS, Microsoft and Google need the channel as they look to capitalise on the “next phase” of cloud adoption.
The analyst outfit said that AWS, Microsoft and Google grew their cloud infrastructure revenues by 43 percent, 93 percent and 74 percent respectively in Q1, as the overall market rose by 42 percent to $11.4 billion.
Canalys principal analyst Matthew Ball said that the three have worked out that building an indirect business will be the only way to maintain that order of growth.
“We’re seeing the next phase of cloud adoption beyond the big marquee projects like Netflix and Snapchat. The cloud providers are now looking at corporate and mid-market accounts, and for that they need greater reach and scale, and that’s where the role of the channel comes in.
“So we are seeing a lot of the big cloud providers, AWS and Google in particular – those that haven’t come from an enterprise IT background – starting to mature their partner programmes and channel engagements. They are looking to focus on that more because they recognise that the channel has those relationships with customers. So we believe that the channel will be a part of their go-to-market strategies going forward, especially if they want to maintain their high levels of growth each quarter and year.”
Canalys said that AWS’ Q1 cloud infrastructure sales were more than $3.5bn, but the market leader’s success need not be at the cost of the channel as the rise of cloud has in some cases expanded the role played by resellers.
“The channel has made good business selling datacentre infrastructure in the past, and we believe they still will do going forward. Cloud is another choice for customers in terms of how they operate their IT environments and, for sure, it’s a concern for channel partners. But we’ve seen some partners being affected by cloud and others changing their business model to develop consultancy or professional services to help their customers define a cloud environment.”
Microsoft has added 15 UK resellers to its new Surface Hub partner programme.
The Surface Hub was launched in Europe with just 20 specialist AV partners, but in February Microsoft opened up the device to its entire partner base through The Surface Hub Distributors Programme for Opportunity Resellers (VAD-OR).
Danielle Crayton, senior product marketing manager at Microsoft UK, said that the Surface Hub “ecosystem” is growing daily and Microsoft’s partners play an essential role in that growth by helping organisations implement new, innovative workplace collaboration strategies and communicate with colleagues across geographies.
“Surface Hub is a new breed of collaboration tool designed to unlock the power of any group and their ideas in real time. This ultimately leads to better solutions and results, regardless of whether teams are in the same room or spread across the globe.”
Microsoft said its Surface Hub customer base has increased globally from 500 customers last July to 2,000 now.
One of the partners was the IT outsourcing giant Capita. Managing director of Capita’s smart buildings divisions Paul Morris said Capita’s cunning plan was to bring users’ experience into the 21st century and embrace the developing role of multimedia technology to support and enable all employees.
“We offer customised audio-visual systems that encompass and deliver seamless collaboration, maximise content delivery and increase productivity within any environment. Surface Hub is a key part of our offering to clients, and we are very proud to have been awarded Authorised Device Reseller (ADR) status.”
Other partners are eBECS, Electrosonic, GV MultiMedia and Pro AV which are now Surface Hub ADRs, while a further 10 partners have been recruited through the VAD-OR programme with distributor Maverick.
Grey box shifter Michael Dell talked up the importance of a ‘multi-cloud’ world and waded in to AWS, Microsoft, and Google by claiming that, for many customers, “public cloud is twice as expensive as on-premise”.
Dell said that while all styles of cloud computing have their merits and applications, customers should not relytoo heavily on any one model, – particularly public cloud.
“If you have a public cloud-first and -only strategy, you will find yourself uncompetitive in the long term. On-premise offers automation capabilities on an unprecedented scale. Many customers have already told us that the public cloud is twice as expensive as on-premise,” he said.
David Goulden, president of Dell EMC, added that Dell’s cloud offering addresses not only generalist productivity and business applications, but also core applications that many enterprises would not typically consider suitable for the cloud arena.
“Most clouds target the millions of general-purpose applications,” he said. “Our cloud strategy targets those, but also targets performance-intensive, mission-critical applications that most customers would not [otherwise] consider running on a cloud or as-a-service basis. We, uniquely, have a hybrid cloud strategy for all your applications.”
Dell EMC is adding its 14th generation of its PowerEdge range of servers this summer and the new VMAX 950F all-flash storage array.
The vendor also boosted its VxRail suite of hyper-converged technology, including the launch of a single-processor unit which allows businesses to invest in hyper-converged infrastructure for a capital investment as low as $25,000.
Dell Financial Services is to a launch a payment offering for hyper-converged infrastructure providing customers with the option of “cloud-like consumption” of the technology.
Microsoft has officially launched its Dynamics 365 in the UK, much to the relief of its partners.
For those who came in late, Dynamics 365 is a cloud based service which joins Microsoft Azure and Office 365 that Vole will be managing to help UK businesses reach their potential.
Microsoft’s bog post announcing the release of Dynamics is a heavy sell. It lists off the businesses in the UK that have already taken advantage of Microsoft’s UK cloud regions that went up last year, including the Ministry of Défense and the Met Police.
“The move ensures Microsoft is the first global cloud provider to offer a complete cloud from data centres in the UK.”
The headline case study has come from the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust which uses Dynamics 365 to easily share information between medical professionals and patients.
“The ability to see a complete picture of an individual’s needs means more people can be treated in their own homes rather than in a hospital,” Vole tells us.
Lucy Cassidy, an Advance Practice Physiotherapist at Brighton Hospital said that Dynamics 365 transformed the way her hospital treated patients by putting all relevant information into the hands of clinicians.
“From the moment the service receives a referral, the patient is provided with relevant information on how to manage their injury and we are able to measure the progress of their rehabilitation,” he said.
“The service also means that we are able to track patient feedback and data is automatically collected for our Patient Reported Outcome Measures, a key reporting need for all NHS trusts. Importantly, this data is sent live to clinicians to proactively manage patient outcomes rather than simply sitting in a spreadsheet at the end of the year.”
Vole is pitching its 365 products as a package for partners claiming the three enable companies and organisations to work seamlessly to become more productive, gain new insights into their operations and create greater personalised experiences for customers. Because having seams makes things rather tricky to iron.
Dell EMC talked about its partnership with Microsoft under which channel partners can build on-premises Microsoft Azure clouds using Dell EMC technology.
Dubbed Dell EMC Cloud for Microsoft Azure Stack, the she-bang is a turnkey platform for building a hybrid cloud offering with the same look, feel, and technology as the Microsoft Azure public cloud,
A Dell EMC spokesperson said the outfit was using its three years of experience with delivering hybrid clouds.
The Dell EMC Cloud for Microsoft Azure Stack is a net-new offering from Dell EMC, particularly in how it differs from the company’s Enterprise Hybrid Cloud, or EHC.
Customers deploying the Enterprise Hybrid Cloud need to add their own domain name space automation, firewall automation, backup and recovery capabilities, and other technologies that together form a private or hybrid cloud.
The Dell EMC Cloud for Microsoft Azure Stack is an integrated offering which is Azure-based. It does not use the Enterprise Hybrid Cloud.
The new offering is also different from the Azure Pack, which Dell started shipping in 2015. The Azure Pack is not API-compatible with the Microsoft Azure public cloud.
The Dell EMC Cloud for Microsoft Azure Stack targets solution providers and customers who use Microsoft technology. It will be a stand-alone offering combining Dell EMC hyper-converged infrastructure technology with Azure.
The new offering scales from four nodes, which can work with up to about 100 Azure D1 virtual machines, to 12 nodes, or about 600 Azure D1 virtual machines.
Dell EMC Cloud for Microsoft Azure Stack provides a single contract support for hybrid Azure deployments, full encryption and security capabilities including the ability to tie policies to virtual machines as they are migrated to new locations, and full data protection capabilities in single tenant and multi-tenant environments.
Software King of the World, Microsoft, is rolling out upgrades to its sales software using data from LinkedIn.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said that the cunning plan was central to the company’s long-term strategy for building specialised business software.
The move means improving Vole’s sales software Dynamics 365, so it can take on market leader Salesforce.com. It is the first thing to come out of Microsoft’s $26 billion acquisition of LinkedIn, the business-focused social network.
The new features will comb through a salesperson’s email, calendar and LinkedIn relationships to help gauge how warm their relationship is with a potential customer.
The system will recommend ways to save an at-risk deal, like calling in a co-worker who is connected to a potential customer on LinkedIn.
“The artificial intelligence, or AI, capabilities of the software would be central. I want to be able to democratize AI so that any customer using these products is able to, in fact, take their own data and load it into AI for themselves,” Nadella said.
LinkedIn has 500 million members globally, one of the first big milestones for the business social network since its acquisition.
It seems that Microsoft’s partners are busy buying each other at the moment with dynamics expert SAGlobal snapping up fM4 Systems.
Both are based in the Cardiff area and have worked together on a number of occasions in the past. But last week, SAGlobal snapped up M4 for an undisclosed sum, in a move which will create a £7 million turnover firm with around 500 staff globally.
It is the latest pair of Microsoft partners to merge. New Signature bought Paradigm, and RedPixie snapped up Cloudamour at the start of last year. The move is widely seen as a part of a general vendor consolidation which arrived about the same time that Vole moved onto a more cloud orientation.
This meant that vendors need to become more focused on their customer base. Taking another company’s contact list therefore makes a lot of sense. But many resellers are finding that with Microsoft’s cloud services there is less for them to do that Vole is not doing already. Resellers are scrabbling around looking for complementary services on top to replace the lost revenue streams.
Meanwhile Microsoft only wants resellers who offer something over and above what they offer themselves in their generic product.
The latest acquisition gives SAGlobal and M4 much needed scale and shows that the Dynamics channel is maturing.
Microsoft and Adobe are joining to make their respective sales and marketing software products better at seeing off Salesforce and Oracle.
The pair said they will work together to create a a shared data format between Adobe’s marketing software suite, which the company is re-naming its Experience Cloud, and Microsoft’s sales software, called Dynamics, allowing the software systems to work together seamlessly.
“It’s going to enable to customers to go beyond the current (software) silos they have to navigate today,” said Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of the cloud and enterprise division at Microsoft.
For Adobe the partnership builds on a deal it struck with Microsoft last year to use its Azure cloud computing services.
Adobe has been pushing into business-to-business marketing software since it purchased Omniture Inc, a firm that helps website owners track their traffic, for $1.8 billion in 2009. Software that companies use to run digital marketing and advertising campaigns represented about $1.2 billion of Adobe’s $4.6 billion in revenue last year.
Microsoft has been trying to expand Dynamics, its software system for sales people. Teaming with Adobe helps it compete more strongly against Salesforce and Oracle, which both offer a combination of sales and marketing software.
Software King of the World, Microsoft, is auditing its partners and sorting out the sheep from the goatees.
Request for proposals (RFPs) were sent out to existing and new distributors last Friday covering much of the software Microsoft puts through distribution especially its full packaged products (FPP), OEM Windows, OEM server and electronic software delivery (ESD) products.
At the moment, Vole uses Tech Data, Ingram, Westcoast, Exertis and Entatech but now it is thought that Microsoft wants its distributors to reflect its recent move into hardware and changes to its business model.
VIP and Ci Distribution have received an invite to bid which could suggest a widening of the distribution channel, or that some big names might be culled.
Ingram and Tech Data recently lost out in a similar review Microsoft completed for its hardware accessories business, which includes mice and keyboards. In that case there were seven distributors were invited to bid for this franchise but only Exertis and Westcoast were successful.
Software king of the world, Microsoft, has told its channel chums to pass on the price increases of its surface gear.
The move is expected to cause a few headaches as resellers will be the ones left explaining why prices have risen.
The reason is the value of the pound and the Brexit tax. There have been some price rises already with the large hardware vendors passed on the currency fluctuations but now everyone is having to do it. This is mostly because the only thing that is selling for 90 euro cents a pound turns out to be the pound.
Vole has said that it is increasing hardware prices on the Surface and the Surface Book by 15 percent, as a direct consequence of the state of Sterling.
The vendor has given the channel some leeway on exactly how much it will pass on those increase, but really a 15 percent increase is about the only way it can happen.
A spokes Vole said that the price increases only affect products and services purchased by individuals, or organisations without volume licensing contracts and will be effective from February 15, 2017.
“For indirect sales where our products and services are sold through partners, final prices will continue to be determined by them,” it added.
Microsoft is doing its best to encourage the channel to sell more of its Surface line. Schemes like a try-before-you-buy and increased services have all launched in the last few months to tempt more users.
Other vendors that have looked at prices include HP and Apple and earlier this week the speaker manufacturer Sonos revealed that it was also increasing the costs for customers because of exchange rates.
Still at least the UK can be re-assured that as soon as the UK gets out of the EU more than $380 million a week will be spent on the National Health Service.
Software King of the World Microsoft is ending pay-as-you-go Azure access for new smaller customers on the Microsoft Products and Services Agreement, as it turns to channel partners to win small customers.
At the moment punters are purchasing Azure on a pay-as-you-go basis through the MPSA. Vole’s new customers seeking the payment plan will be “guided” towards Microsoft’s Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) programme.
According to Richard Smith, Microsoft’s general manager for commercial licensing the new licensing focus was a matter of “enhancing and creating synergies” across the ways in which it goes to business.
It means that customers seeking to dip their toes into Azure on a PAYG basis will now need to go through the Channel.
Vole will not make much extra cash from selling through the channel, but Volish thinking is that small suppliers are more likely to stay signed up to a Channel programme than sticking to something more direct.
Many smaller customers don’t see the true benefits of the Azure cloud because they lack the skills.
By encouraging customers to work with partners via the CSP programme, it will mean that there is a greater chance of success and ultimately a greater consumption of services from the Cloud.
Software King of the World Microsoft is working out new ways to push AI enhanced products on the great unwashed.
Over the weekend, it announced that it was buying the startup Maluuba which will help Vole develop products based on natural language deep learning, especially question answering and decision making.
Harry Shum, executive vice president for Microsoft’s Artificial Intelligence and Research Group, wrote in his bog that Maluuba’s expertise in deep learning and reinforcement learning for question-answering and decision-making systems will help it advance our strategy to democratize AI and to make it accessible and valuable to everyone — consumers, businesses and developers.
Vole did not disclose the terms and conditions of the acquisition, or the price. As part of the acquisition, Microsoft will also bring Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms head Yoshua Bengio on board as an advisor. Bengio was previously an advisor to Maluuba.
Maluuba was founded in 2011, has raised $11 million in equity funding. The company focuses on improving computer systems’ reading comprehension, memory and common sense reasoning abilities.
In September, Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft also formed the Artificial Intelligence and Research organisation, which the company said would double down on its AI product efforts through research.
Virtual smart home assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Home have been gaining traction over the past year and will continue to do so. But the key for its partners is that Microsoft can also pave the way for other high-end artificial intelligence applications, including in the medical field.
Microsoft’s UK partner boss Clare Barclay has been promoted to the role of UK chief operating officer.
According to a company email Barclay announced that she is “transitioning” into the role of UK COO and would report to UK CEO Cindy Rose. The reporting is unchanged she already does that in her current job of small and mid-market Solutions and Partners general manager.
Chris Perkins taking on interim leadership of the SMS&P business from 1 February until they can find a successor. He has led Microsoft’s corporate accounts business for the last four years and is a “great supporter” of selling with partners, Barclay said.
She added that she will continue to fly the flag for partners in her new role.
“I have always been and continue to be a passionate advocate for our partner community and will continue to stay connected in my new capacity. During my tenure, I’ve been supported by an incredibly strong leadership team, who remain in place to help you grow your business alongside Microsoft and you should not see any changes day to day as a result of this announcement.”
Vole announced plans to rejig its partner business last week, merging SMS&P and its Enterprise Product Group. However there were not supposed to be any management reshuffles as a result of the move.
Barclay said that it was an incredible time in the industry and one that is full of opportunity but also change.
“New year is often a time to reflect and it has been incredible to see the impact we have had together with our partners over the last couple of years, as we have helped our customers transform their businesses and have seen rapid adoption of cloud services during this time. I have had the pleasure of leading the SMS&P and partner business over this period and I wanted to thank you for the impact you have had,” he said.
The Campaign for Clear Licensing (CCL) has lashed out at the “anti-competitive” tactics of software vendors and said that Oracle is the “big bad wolf” of software auditors.
CCL found licensing audits were taking an average of nearly 200 work-hours to resolve and Oracle was the worst offender.”
The research asked respondents to estimate how long an average software audit takes to resolve in work hours and total duration. The average estimate was 194.15 working hours over a duration of 7.13 months.
CCL feels that big vendors are using audits to block competition and restrict innovation. While customers are locked in a room talking with the big vendors about audits, they are not looking at alternatives.
The 194 hour figure has gone up over the last five years because software licensing, and therefore the audit process, has become more complex, CCL said.
Oracle was named and shamed by nearly a quarter as the least helpful vendor in terms of audits. IBM and Microfocus were second and third, ahead of Microsoft, Autodesk, SAP, Adobe, Dell Software and HP.
Although Microsoft was seen in CCL’s survey as the most helpful vendor in terms of audits it did catch a bit of criticism. CCL did not like how previous compliance misdemeanours might be overlooked as long as the customer adopts the software publisher’s strategic products.
“…While less aggressive, this approach is still anti-competitive and it assumes the vendor’s cloud solution is the most viable option.”
Microsoft has been hyping its Dynamics 365 platform for months and now is finally showing it off to its channel partners.
For those who came in late, Dynamics 365 is an integrated CRM and ERP. Vole talks up the software’s machine learning skills, business intelligence and advanced data integration features.
Vole announced that Dynamics 365 will be released next month, giving customers a cloud-based customer relationship and business management solution that delivers predictive insights by using artificial intelligence.
Microsoft thinks the software will create opportunities for partners to drive business transformations.
Dynamics 365 is fully integrated with Office 365 and the Cortana Intelligence Suite, and works with Microsoft’s productivity tools, email and business intelligence solutions.
The product, accessible through a mobile app, leverages machine learning algorithms to help sales, service, and marketing agents gain insights into their professional relationships.
CRM rival Salesforce has a similar product which it calls Einstein, an artificial intelligence technology infused into its sales, service and marketing apps.