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Microsoft Seeks Deeper Connections With The Channel

The changing face of Redmond. Microsoft, it appears, is pursuing deeper connections with channel companies. In essence, moving from partnering to partnerships.

These are Microsoft allies that co-sell cloud services and other company products, and range from Microsoft Azure partners to independent software vendors. And this change in strategy is compelling partners to develop higher-value services and bring forth more sophisticated offerings.

As noted, this shift in the company’s partner strategy is recent.

Gavriella Schuster, corporate vice president of the One Commercial Partner program at Microsoft, highlighted this new channel approach that moves beyond simple transactional reselling.

Developments like the growth of the Microsoft co-sell program and the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) licensing model are signs enough, while partners building offerings on top of Azure and investing more into their Microsoft relationship are further examples.

The Microsoft co-sell initiative, for instance, rewards the company’s field sales force for selling partner solutions generated $8 billion in partner revenue in the first 18 months of its existence.

And then there is the success of the Microsoft Azure Expert Managed Services Providers (MSPs) program, which saw generation of up to $2 million per month in Azure business.

Not to mention, the new joint venture between Accenture and Microsoft that was unveiled earlier this month, representing the largest investment any partner has ever made with Microsoft. Impressively, more than 45,000 Microsoft solutions experts are in the mix here.

Come March 2019, ISV partners will also be able to publish their offerings on two of the company’s marketplaces, the Azure Marketplace and AppSource.

This will enable companies to directly access customer and the Microsoft partner ecosystem.

All this, as the software titan readies a new licensing process that will let customers buy Azure services directly from the company. Dubbed the Microsoft Customer Agreement, this new approach is set to go into effect next month, March 2019.

The idea being to make it easier for end customers to purchase Azure directly if they know what they want. For partners, the channel will continue to exist to services users that are not sufficiently technically enabled to buy Azure themselves.

At least, that seems to be the plan.

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