Microsoft: Cloud-First Partners Continue to Outperform Others

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Print this article Print

A new study from Microsoft and IDC shows that partners who have added cloud computing to their mix of services outperform other non-cloud partners.

The IDC report encourages partners to make the move to a cloud-first company and use the cloud to open doors to new and existing customers, as well as to take customers to the cloud in steps, and don’t move too fast.

On top of the large worldwide survey, IDC went deep with 20 Microsoft partners to gain some actionable business ideas.

“We haven’t had to hire new people to sell cloud. It’s basically an evolution of what we were doing previously,” said Conor Callanan, CEO of Core Technology Systems, a Microsoft cloud partner. “They’re used to selling days and not products and licenses. Selling 100 days to go with those Office 365 enterprise licenses, that’s where the real money is for us.”

“We’ll always tell a customer that the hardest part is doing all the planning and then that first connection between on premises and Office 365,” said Matt McGillen, director of Microsoft infrastructure at Perficient, a Microsoft business partner. “Once you’ve done that: Yammer, SharePoint, Lync, Intune, all these things become more viable… You’ve already done the groundwork, and so it’s just a matter of turning on the capabilities in the cloud.”

IDC predicts that 70 percent of CIOs will embrace a “cloud first” strategy in 2016. ”Develop a ‘cloud first mentality’ to open doors into new accounts,” the IDC report said. “Then up-sell and cross-sell using the success of the first project.” Perficient starts with Office 365 to show early success, and then up-sells customers into more of the Microsoft stack.

Cloud People is a Danish IT service company focusing on selling, implementing and servicing solutions based on cloud products from Microsoft, primarily Windows Azure and Office 365. The majority of Cloud People’s customers start out by placing classic productivity tools like mail, calendar and task management in the cloud in order to benefit from major cost savings and true mobility, said Finn Krusholm, CEO of Cloud People. Later, files and communication tools follow – for instance, by starting to use Lync. The third step is where companies implement automated workflow and processes based on best-practice, he said.

“A lot of these customers have never had professionally delivered IT services before,” said Ben Gower, managing director of Perspicuity, a UK-based Microsoft partner. “You’ve got to do baby steps with them. So moving from on-prem email onto exchange online is a nice step. Moving from Dropbox to SharePoint is a nice step. You’re not going to move someone from Dropbox to full blown intranet/extranet client portal… it’s not going to happen. I think there are a lot of partners trying to do that. Personally, I think it’s a mistake.”

Waldo says Microsoft has assets and capabilities that provide advantages over its cloud competitors, such as its penetration into the enterprise. Partners can drive more revenue with a deeper platform and can drive additional value for the customer.”

“The best partners are moving to cloud first; the smarter, better managed ones are the ones making the jump,” Bibby said.

Indeed, Hans Petter Dramstad, CTO of Norwegian Microsoft partner Visma, noted, “By 2015 our target is to no longer focus on up front software licenses. Both cloud and traditional offerings will primarily be sold on a subscription basis.”