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In the battle between Microsoft and Google for supremacy over the next generation of computing, Microsoft does not appear to be making much use of its traditional channel allies.


Just about everything that Microsoft does and says about cloud computing comes across as fairly reactionary. Essentially, Microsoft has let Google set the tone for much of the last two years and every service that it rolls out is compared and contrasted to something Google already did.


But when it comes to bringing cloud computing to the corporate customers, Google has a decidedly consumer focus that has some appeal to small business customers. It does not have a real suite of offerings that is going to be taken too seriously by corporate customers concerned by security and data integration. Unfortunately, neither does Microsoft.


What Microsoft does have is partners that are taking the concept of cloud computing down the corporate path in a more meaningful way. Good examples of this trend are companies such as Exostar, which offers a service based around a secure implementation of Microsoft SharePoint; eXpresso, which offers Microsoft Office as a service; and Intermedia, a host Microsoft Exchange service.


If Microsoft really wanted to limit Google’s potential growth, it should engage the hundreds of channel companies offering services around Microsoft’s products and technologies. The absence of those companies only suggest that Microsoft is a lot more focused on trying to exert direct control over the customers using its own services than it is empowering the traditional channel alliances that made Microsoft what it is today. Given that state of affairs, it might be in the interest of Microsoft’s channel partners to form their own cloud computing federation.


More than anything Microsoft needs evangelists to promote its vision of cloud computing. Issuing press releases about various services from on high in
Redmond is not going to get that job done. Instead, what Microsoft needs to do is invest dollars in channel partners that will essentially build micro-clouds of services around Microsoft products. Before Google could realize what was happening, Microsoft would have thousands of feet on the street promoting Microsoft services to corporate customers.


Unfortunately, it looks like Microsoft is pretty much asleep at the wheel when it comes to cloud computing in the channel. Of course, one of these days Google is going to wake up to the same opportunity. And before Microsoft realizes, a large swath of the channel might find common cause with Google simply because it might actually be trying to make an effort.


Right now, it doesn’t look like Google even knows how to spell the word channel. But that’s not likely to stay the case forever. In the meantime, Microsoft is pretty much ignoring a coalition of the willing at its own peril.


Mike Vizard is a market expert at Ziff Davis Enterprise and regular contributor to Channel Insider. Vizard can be reached at