(Stephen Parker, Head of Cloud Strategy, NewLease)
A big concern for hosting and service provider partners over the past few years has been how Microsoft are positioning their direct to market offerings (Office 365, Azure) and how these will impact their businesses. Put bluntly are Microsoft going to put them out of business.
The GREAT news from WPC in Toronto is that there are clear indicators on a number of fronts that Microsoft want service provider clouds to be seen as an important part of their overall cloud strategy.
Microsoft are very careful about messaging so the use of Service Provider on many slides is not an accident. That the use of Service Provider is in the headline and NOT as a footnote is very positive.
SPLA (Service Provider License Agreement) despite being a significant revenue generator for Microsoft is poorly understood, even within Microsoft. The SPLA acronym is rarely seen and even less talked about. So good to see SPLA turning up on slides during keynotes.
Feature Share from Azure to Windows Server 2012:
Microsoft have been driving a lot of their “scale” innovation for Windows through the Azure platform. Concern has been expressed that this was providing an unfair advantage to Microsoft’s own platform at the expense of service providers. The good news is that many of these Azure capabilities are being made available to the service provider world:
“We’re striving to have consistency across three key areas: Customer datacenters, service providers’ datacenters and our datacenters,” said Ian Carlson, Director of Product Marketing
(Mary Jo Foley has a summary http://www.zdnet.com/microsoft-to-bring-new-azure-cloud-services-to-windows-server-7000000620/)
Microsoft Staff Scorecards:
Microsoft’s scorecard system is a key determinant for staff behaviour (“never be surprised when people do exactly what the commission plans says”). Although SPLA is a large revenue stream and THE licensing program for service providers it is small compared to other Microsoft volume license programs. Traditionally this has meant that very few Microsoft staff were motivated to understand much less push SPLA.
However from personal experience of FY13 planning discussions with Microsoft staff and Kevin Turners clear statement (during his Wednesday keynote) that staff will not be able to achieve accelerators unless they hit their “cloud” targets I am expecting a fundamental shift of interest in SPLA during FY13.
Microsoft’s own online assets (Office 365, Azure, CRM Online etc) will clearly play a major part in this “mainstreaming” of the cloud within Microsoft. However they will not be able to reach their targets through these alone and as indicated above the service provider cloud has been clearly signposted as a critical part of the Microsoft FY13 plans.