Industry cloud programs like Microsoft’s CSP have rapidly gained in popularity over the last few years. For channel partners, this means potential
Cloud has swept the IT industry to the point of ubiquity. And the cloud growth statistics once so startling in their scope and growth rates, have lost their shock and awe factor as the technology has become increasingly everyday in its scope and function.
Major vendors offering their own cloud solutions have been major drivers in the industry-wide move to cloud, and perhaps none more so than Microsoft. The company was one of the first to offer software and services subscriptions with its Office 365 offering, and has since extended the opportunity to manage its cloud services to the channel by way of its Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) programme.
Microsoft defines the CSP Program as “enabling partners to directly manage their entire Microsoft cloud customer lifecycle. Partners in this program utilize dedicated in-product tools to directly provision, manage and support their customer subscriptions. Partners can easily package their own tools, products and services and combine them into one monthly or annual customer bill.”
In the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2017, Office 365 revenue overtook that of conventional license sales of Microsoft Office software for the first time.
Or put more simply, it’s a way for partners to resell Microsoft products (Office 365, Microsoft Azure, Dynamics CRM Online, Enterprise Mobility Suite and Microsoft Intune) by working with Microsoft directly, or going through a trusted partner that is already a member of the CSP program.
The program has proved very popular, with Microsoft reporting that in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2017, Office 365 revenue overtook that of conventional license sales of Microsoft Office software for the first time.
Richard Ellis, Microsoft Office Division lead, says much of the impetus behind the growth in the company’s cloud business has been driven by the success of its cloud solution partner (CSP) programme, with 35 000 CSP partners globally and the number growing at the rate of 6 000 a month.
Ellis believes most partners are aware of Microsoft’s shift to the cloud and are taking advantage of it. In addition, the announcement of Microsoft 365 Business, which wraps Office 365, Windows 10 and mobility and security into a single package, at the vendor’s Inspire channel event, is also likely to provide additional opportunities for partners.
Dominick Birgelen, CEO at one click AG, believes that Microsoft’s cloud strategy “presents great opportunities to the market” and gives partners the ability to “reach a huge global audience of potential customers”, whilst Chris Hill, business development director at Barracuda puts it bluntly.
“If the channel doesn’t adapt to Microsoft’s evolving revenue model, it will be left behind and suffer financially” he says. “The channel partner that embraces this change will be able to take advantage of new billing options, wider ranging solutions such as cloud security and networking, deeper professional services engagements and not be tied to standalone products with one off licences”.
For channel partners looking to take advantage of the CSP programme and immerse themselves within the Microsoft cloud ecosystem, it makes sense to upskill in Microsoft-related technologies as quickly as possible.
For channel partners looking to take advantage of the CSP programme and immerse themselves within the Microsoft cloud ecosystem, it makes sense to upskill in Microsoft-related technologies as quickly as possible, and seek out mutually beneficial partnerships with existing Microsoft cloud partners.
By bundling its solutions, Microsoft also provides an integrated, all-in-one solution. Where previously users may have had to source different parts of their solution from different providers, which can potentially leave them with significant gaps in their security for example, sticking to one vendor’s portfolio is likely to provide a more cohesive and comprehensive solution.
For those interested in becoming Microsoft partners and participating in Microsoft’s new Cloud Solution Provider programme, Redmond Channel Partner lists 20 points to consider before “jumping on Microsoft’s new Cloud Solution Provider bandwagon”, including noting the difference between a 1-Tier partner or a 2-Tier reseller and the various requirements from Microsoft before being accepted as a programme partner.
Distributors around the world have been quick to get with the programme so to speak, with well-renowned UK and South African disties such as Arrow ECS and Westcon-Comstor having signed up and no doubt reaping the rewards already.
Outside of the CSP programme, for those channel intermediaries keen to transition to cloud, Accenture segments cloud migration into three key phases:
Assessment, Strategy and Roadmap
The first step needs to clearly define the business case for cloud migration, before plotting the organisation’s journey into the cloud, taking into account the company’s business model and the current IT operating environment. Based on these insights, an industry-tailored cloud vision can be created – the cloud strategy.
Cloud Transformation and Migration
The strategic roadmap into the cloud must be executed in a manner that delivers the organisation’s vision. However, enterprise migration is more than just a lift-and-shift process – it’s about how software services will reside within the organisation by determining the cloud target state, and implementing the value realisation and organisation mobilisation strategy.
Cloud Management and Optimization
The final step in cloud migration orchestrates the management of cloud applications and infrastructure through an operating model that defines how companies consume cloud services. This includes defining factors such as identity management, governance, roles and capabilities, as well as the change management aspects around people and processes.
It’s clear then that basing business operations in the cloud, whether utilizing Microsoft’s CSP programme or not, is becoming, if not already has become an inevitability. As Accenture states on its website, “The question isn’t if you should migrate, it’s when – and how.”