Day 1 of our first Microsoft Partner Days was all about Azure. Laura Bouchard, Enterprise Sales Director for Microsoft UK, kicked off the opening keynote by recapping on the purpose of Partner Days:
1) Educate partners on the Microsoft solution areas
2) Highlight the opportunities available
3) Connect you with the key UK Microsoft teams to best support you for the year ahead
4) Provide time to network and connect with co-partners.
The First Era of Cloud Computing
Next on stage was Paul Bolt, Microsoft Small, Medium & Corporate Territory Channel Lead, who shared his experiences of the cloud market, and tips on how to establish and grow as a cloud provider.
Paul began by looking back to around 8 or 9 years ago, with the dawn of cloud computing and when Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) was making the headlines. At that time, cloud appeared to be a confusing and interchangeable term, with a mix of global vendors and start-ups attempting to make it in the market. However, despite the complexity and media hype at the time, at the root of it all was the developer community; driving and steering this transition to the cloud. This was the biggest shift in technology since the industrial revolution, and for the first time developers had access to infinite infrastructure, the ability to scale and shut down on demand, and importantly, to pay as you go. Business models were starting to change, impacting how we buy, consume and use technology today.
"This was the beginning of cloud, as a platform and as a phrase"
There are a number of hallmarks from this first era this that are still with us today, and will continue to stay with us:
1) The decreasing cost of infrastructure
2) The proliferation of tools that grew around cloud to help build, scale, monitor and deploy code. And these options continue to explode within the market today.
3) This was an early market, with no set standards, different platforms and multiple API's, - a complex landscape for people to navigate.
4) Finally, the skill set required to bring cloud to life - the same challenges we see in market today. Experts are hard to obtain, and resource heavy to afford and train; but vital to have.
Proof that this industrial revolution IS happening
Paul then introduced the concept of a unicorn - a privately owned business that has reached a valuation of over $1 billion. Pre-cloud, (pre 2010) the market had on average four unicorns born a year, with a timescale of 16 years from initial start-up to reaching the $1 billion status. Yet in the last three years alone, 600 unicorns have been born, taking an average of just 4.5 years to reach the $1 billion mark.
And the common theme? Cloud is the platform they are built and growing on.
Where is the market going and what do we need to think about?
1) Standards evolve very quickly, and standardised forms and platforms lead the way within the current market.
2) Whilst cloud based companies like Uber and Airbnb will dominate most cloud presentations, the majority of companies you work with will not have an IT delivery model that looks anything like these. They are established business with a range of legacy applications and technical depth, and a need to build an IT delivery model that is more agile. The reality today, and in the future, is that hybrid cloud and a blend of IaaS, PaaS and SaaS will increasingly feature in the market.
3) Platform is key. Powerful platforms that bring technology to life and start to bring it into the hands of businesses that could not afford it years ago.
4) Co-partnering with companies that bring a powerful section of tools and solutions to both Microsoft and our partner.
Cloud has taken Microsoft's addressable market from desktop to digital transformation and the wave of cloud computing, opening up new areas in which to operate and compete. This is a hugely exciting time, for both Microsoft and the partner ecosystem, with an immense market opportunity:
Claire Barclay, Microsoft UK Chief Operating Officer, then took to the stage to discuss how this market opportunity translates in the real world, impacting every industry and every customer.
Claire commented on the radical change taking place, and the significant challenges for those that don't adapt. We are in a very exciting industry, with the market opportunity exploding. Partner Days is a great opportunity for you to hear about the different solutions we have, and how together we can help grow and nurture the market opportunity.
How can you differentiate as a partner?
The Microsoft ecosystem is rapidly changing, and there are some key ways to stand out:
1) Be clear on your proposition
2) Create smart partnerships
3) Invest in skills and capability
4) Take advantage of modern marketing capabilities, and align closely with sales
"This is a fast paced market, that's not for the faint hearted...but for partners here [today] that want to innovate, learn and change... there has never been a better time to be in this industry."
Azure: A face paced journey
The final part of the session was led by Mark Smith, Microsoft Senior Director, Cloud and Enterprise. In the last 12 months we are really seeing the opportunity around Azure, and Mark thanked our partners for driving this within the UK market.
How is Microsoft looking at the Azure business?
"It's all about consumption, consumption, consumption."
Looking month on month, the average daily amount of Azure consumption in the UK has doubled in the last 12 months.
However, 43% of customers are not currently consuming Azure, and this creates a huge opportunity for us and our partners.
"people are moving to the cloud, we've got to accelerate that"
Investing in Azure
At a global and UK level we are making huge investments in Azure, and there are 6 game changing solutions we are driving:
1) SAP on Azure - there is a huge opportunity to get on Azure, and to wrap around applications.
2) Citrix on Azure - we have been astounded by the opportunity and interest in Citrix on Azure, and are adding more and more Citrix cloud workshops for you to drive your customers to.
3) Open-source (OSS)- this is critical. The world has changed and Microsoft only partners need to really understand open-source and the opportunity it can bring.
4) Data - possibly the biggest opportunity we have. Looking at how we move the gravity of data into the cloud and utilising the products we have on Azure is key.
5) App innovation - we have a great solution here, and need to be talking about dev ops and getting it onto Azure. We are fully reliant on the correct skills and capability within the channel to effectively drive this.
6) Data centre modernisation. It's no longer about lift and shift, it's the entirety of their infrastructures and data centres that need to be considered.
- 2400. The number of customers who went through our cloud workshops in the last year.
- 5000. The target for this year.
- $10m. The partner channel investment we made including funding and marketing.
- $13m. The amount of investment we are making in our partners this year.
By being here today at Partner Days, partners have an amazing opportunity to engage with the Microsoft team and work together to drive the vision that Azure creates in the market, and reduce the current consumption gap.
Tom Nokes, Country Director for Capside then joined Paul on stage for a Q&A on how data centre transformation and focusing on managed services and open-source is a big part of what they do. Through recruiting the right people, with developer mindsets who are involved in the wider OSS community, Capside are an example of a Microsoft partner than has successfully transitioned to an OSS model.
Co-partnering is key to harnessing growth
Azure brings a huge opportunity for co-partnering, and the most successful customer stories are where we see multiple partners working together on projects, from ISV's, to SI's and traditional Microsoft partners.
Success in the Enterprise
Neil Sparks, Director Azure Customer Success and Duncan Orme, Azure PSS then joined Paul on stage to run through how their teams are positioned to support you as a Microsoft partner. The Customer Success team is a dedicated unit focussed on supporting and developing customers, together with our partners, to ensure you are optimised and enabled to have the right conversations to be successful.
Duncan then explained how Cloud Solution Architects are there to evangelise, educate and show the art of the possible. They take customers from the initial conversation, helping to remove any blockers and link into the engineering team. Once a project is underway, it is then handed over directly to one of our partners.
Both Duncan and Neil spoke a lot about managed services, but what do customers want from Azure?
Customers want speed of change but don't know how to act. Managed services is a huge growth area in Azure, and for customers looking at cloud for agility, small niche managed service providers are uniquely positioned to support their needs. It's no longer about the size of organisation or team, it's about providing the right service.
Growing at Scale
We talk a lot about SaaS and IaaS, but there is a huge opportunity to embed your own IP into your offering. Building repeatable IP gives you the opportunity to scale, but it's important to make sure you take this and build out your own go-to-market value to uniquely position yourself as a leading Microsoft partner.
After the keynote, the day was split out into 12 core 45 minute breakout sessions, delving deeper into the topics covered and providing the opportunity for partners to network and ask questions from the UK team.
Please visit the Partner Days website to access the key resources from day 1, and we look forward to seeing you back tomorrow for day 2!
Don't forget you can tune into the live stream of tomorrow's keynote from 10:30 here, and register in advance for our upcoming Partner Days in February and April.