D'Arcy from Winnipeg
Solution Architecture, Business & Entrepreneurship, Microsoft, and Adoption

What Microsoft’s Announcements Mean to Partners

Thursday, November 13, 2014 7:46 AM

This week Microsoft made some announcements around open sourcing the .NET Framework, providing Visual Studio Community edition for free, and showed off their ability to develop across platforms. For developers this was a huge win on a number of fronts, and everyone is applauding what they’ve done – including me.

Partners, maybe not so much.

For those unaware, Microsoft has always had a strong relationship with their partners and its a big source of revenue for them. Microsoft does have a consulting group, but its very small compared to the global partner network they’ve built. The model typically goes that partners sell customers on Microsoft solutions, where Microsoft gets the license revenue and partners get the services/consulting revenue. Where friction comes into play is when Microsoft pivots on products and services; if you’re a partner for a specific product and Microsoft stops supporting it, or changes its strategy around it, then you also need to pivot. Consider all the IT partners who have been installing on-premise Windows servers who are now being told that the future isn’t on-premise but in the cloud. Or the Lync partners who have built up marketing materials that need to all be changed since Lync is being rebranded Skype for Business in the new year? Or the custom app-dev shops that were the darlings of Microsoft in 2000 – 2010, but now go unnoticed unless they’re integrating their solutions with some aspect of Azure.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella made a comment recently that spelt out pretty clearly where Microsot is focusing their efforts:

There is Windows, there is Office 365, and there is Azure. That’s it.

Now of course there’s more than that. Surface and Windows Phone grow out of Windows. SharePoint is part of Office 365. Azure runs anything and spans developers, IT pros, and system integrators. But at its core, these three things are what Microsoft is focused on.

Now, if you’re a partner focused on anything other than these three things, where does that leave you? And that has always been the double edged sword of Microsoft partnership – or partnership with any 3rd party vendor: when they pivot, you need to pivot. While there is money to be made in a partnership agreement, being a Microsoft partner is not a 50/50 arrangement. Microsoft sets the course, communicates the coordinates, and its up to each partner to decide whether or not to follow. And that could be a discussion that happens as frequently as every year.

So yes, developers should celebrate the announcements and we should all celebrate the changes Microsoft is implementing. But from a partner viewpoint, the days of custom software development *on* the Microsoft platform being important to Microsoft is over. The days of on-premise licenses being important to Microsoft is over too. Time to pivot.




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# re: What Microsoft’s Announcements Mean to Partners

I guess Microsoft is cooperating with Facebook these days. Meredith O'Connors wrote about this on the proper essay page where she indicated the statement of Mark Zuckerberg: "I will never give up Facebook. I'll never give it to anyone". 10/24/2016 8:16 AM | Ted

# re: What Microsoft’s Announcements Mean to Partners

Microsoft is market-dominant in the IBM PC-good working system market and the workplace software suite Pay to Do my Assignment for me market, despite the fact that it has lost most of the general working system market to Android. 11/16/2017 4:18 AM | Enrique Richard

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