Microsoft welcomes home 785 prodigal enterprises customers

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It's no secret that Microsoft is locked in a battle with Google for the enterprise market, and while Google gives away much more of its enterprise offerings than Microsoft, for almost one thousand firms, that wasn't enough.

Microsoft announced at its Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington D.C., that in the past 18 months, 785 enterprise customers that the company had lost to Google's offerings have since returned. Microsoft put up a slide with the names of some of those prodigal children, and they are a broad mix of very large firms.

If there is one thing enterprises don't like to do, it's rip and replace. So these firms either weren't really invested in Google's apps or they really, really didn't like them. They may have been using cloud apps and services, but that's still a lot of time spent on ending licenses, getting new ones, deploying apps/services, etc.

Microsoft would not provide any other details on the returning firms. Still, that number is impressive, but it has to be tempered by a little reality. So 785 returned. But how many left in total? It'd be a big deal if 1,000 Microsoft customers left and 785 came back, but if it was 2,000 to 5,000 or more, then not so much.

What likely happened was either these customers discovered that the migration process was more difficult than they had expected, or they found that the benefits gained were less than they hoped for. We also don't know how deep-rooted the Microsoft connection was at these firms. A lot of times companies stick with a vendor because, quite frankly, they can't get rid of them that easily.

You also have to give Microsoft credit for really sweetening its cloud offerings and giving people good reason to come aboard, return, or stay. First, it recently increased OneDrive storage for all Office 365 subscribers to 1TB, and non-paying consumers who use OneDrive have also seen their storage jump, from 7GB to 15GB.

At the recent Worldwide Partner Conference, Microsoft made a number of announcements around Azure and Office 365. It announced that it will integrate the cloud into the Microsoft Partner Network with three new cloud-focused competencies based on performance for Office 365 and Microsoft Azure. There will be one for the partners selling Microsoft Office 365 to small- and mid-market customers, the Cloud Productivity offering for partners deploying Microsoft Office 365 for enterprise customers, and the Cloud Platform for partners who specialize in delivering PaaS and SaaS solutions on Microsoft Azure.

In the process, Microsoft is retiring the old Cloud Accelerate, Cloud Deployment and Azure Circle programs and providing a path for partners to migrate to the new cloud competencies.

To help customers ramp up their cloud offerings, Microsoft is offering things like waiving the first year fee for Silver cloud competencies, expanding licensing offerings for certain customers using Office 365 and Azure, expanding its Signature Cloud Support, and reducing fees for on-premises competencies by up to 10%.

Microsoft also launched Azure Machine Learning University, a portfolio of online self-service learning assets designed to get partners started with Azure Machine Learning. MLU will provide partners with an overview of Azure ML and walk through the data science lifecycle, from importing data to building predictive models and deploying in production.

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