Microsoft to beef up its cloud partner strategy

Marketplaces have become a focal point for the big cloud vendors to increase their IaaS

Microsoft may be planning a big shakeup of its Azure partner strategy, and could be eyeing its global TechED Europe conference at the end of this month to reveal it.

A Microsoft partner company said that it has been contacted by the Redmond giant, asking to provide new machine images and other data for a beefed up marketplace that the company plans to launch. In addition, companies have been offered assistance in preparing media announcements of their app on Microsoft’s new marketplace.

The partner did not want to be named because it has been told to not release details until an official announcement has been made. Microsoft has not responded to a request for comment yet, but in a recent interview with Network World, a company spokesperson said Microsoft plans to invest in its marketplace offering in the future.

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This week we took an in-depth look at the marketplaces from the big three cloud providers - Amazon Web Services, Microsoft and Google. AWS has the leading marketplace for third-party products and services running on top of its cloud, but Microsoft has a solid offering that could be an asset in the future, we found. Check out the full analysis here.

It’s only natural for Microsoft to build up its marketplace. Any app that runs on top of Azure is money in Microsoft’s pockets. The company has many apps on top of Azure, although as the story notes, the strategy seems disjointed as of now. There are many options, but they’re difficult to slog through and there is no cohesiveness. Microsoft has one section for Windows apps, another for other third-party apps, and still another for open source tools (which aren’t even verified by Microsoft).

By comparison, AWS has a clean and crisp Marketplace with close to two thousand products for sale. It’s easy to navigate and simple to use. Of course Microsoft selling other third-party software on its cloud is somewhat of a catch 22 for the company. It wants to increase the allure of the Azure IaaS, but Microsoft has its own software products in a number of the products that partners will offer. Will Microsoft embrace third-party partners who may also be competitors?

Analysts say Microsoft may be behind now, but the company has a huge network of partners it has built up over decades to service enterprise customers. If Microsoft can get those partners behind its cloud then Microsoft could give Amazon a formidable challenge in the public cloud marketplace.

Microsoft has TechEd Europe where it could make the announcement, or CEO Satya Nadella is holding a new conference on October 20 to announce some cloud news, so it could happen even sooner. 

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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