“Partner momentum with Microsoft Azure has never been stronger.”
So says Bob Baker, Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise Partner Marketing Director, speaking following a busy opening day of the Worldwide Partner Conference.
The word on the Washington D.C. street this week is that Microsoft Azure growth is accelerating fast, with businesses forecast to spend the thick end of US$107 billion on cloud-delivered IT services in 2017.
Following last week’s claims that over 8,000 customers are jumping on board the Azure bandwagon every week, Baker says more than 57% of the Fortune 500 are using Azure.
From a partner perspective, over 3,500 partners are running applications on Azure and the Microsoft Open Technology VM Depot hosts more than 1,100 open source images that can be deployed on Azure.
So in building on such momentum, Microsoft announced the Microsoft Azure Certified program, functioning to provide greater opportunities for partners to promote and sell their applications and services on Azure.
Revealed by John Case, Microsoft corporate vice president, the program begins as Microsoft Azure Certified for Virtual Machines, with partner applications offered through single virtual machines in a bring-your-own-license configuration that are deployable from the Azure Management portal.
Early program members Oracle, SAP, Azul Systems, Bitnami, Riverbed Technologies and Barracuda are the first to participate in the program, while additional capacity will be made available to partners as the program expands throughout the course of the upcoming year.
The jist of the announcement? To provide a better way for Microsoft partners to take their applications to the cloud.
“When a partner certifies their applications, they will join a curated environment that exposes their applications to Azure’s worldwide customer base,” Baker adds.
“Their applications will be listed alongside Microsoft first-party solutions, lending credibility to the partners’ offerings.
“This will significantly boost partners’ ability to reach large organisations that purchase Azure through Microsoft enterprise agreements – usually a very expensive marketing effort for many Microsoft partners.”
In time, the program participants will be able to implement Azure usage-based billing and time-based trials without additional development, while Azure Certified partners will also receive access to Microsoft’s sales and marketing services.
Are you sure, about Azure?
Delving deeper into the announcements, Baker says that while Azure Certified focuses on enabling the ecosystem of application developers, the broader partner ecosystem can build their businesses on top of Microsoft Azure through a variety of programs.
An example being that next month, Open partners can begin to leverage the previously announced availability of Azure in Open.
In addition, Managed Service Providers (MSP’s) can leverage their enterprise agreement via the Azure management portal to add Azure services into their offering portfolio with Microsoft adding that such partner-managed offerings can range from applications to comprehensive cloud-based IT.
“It has never been a better time to be a partner with Microsoft Azure,” claims Baker, who must wait for the test of time before seeing the true partner impact of Redmond’s plans.