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Microsoft partners say the software giant's Azure Infrastructure offensive is going to succeed or fail based on how the company follows through in the sales trenches with partners.
"Microsoft's going to have to do whatever it can to compete against Amazon and Google, whatever. They need to launch as much as they can. It's how they engage with the channel that's a challenge," said Paul Benson, president of Virtual Communication Specialists, an Athens, Texas-based solution provider.
Microsoft Tuesday announced the general availability of its Windows Azure Infrastructure Services, which the company described as the final component of its cloud services lineup. The new infrastructure-as-a-service offering puts the company in head-to-head competition with Amazon Web Services in the IaaS market.
Microsoft has been offering the Azure Infrastructure on a preview basis since June. The Redmond, Wash.-based company also announced price cuts to its cloud services, ranging between 21 and 33 percent, to better compete with Amazon Web Services.
Microsoft's challenge is going to be convincing VARs to sell Azure Infrastructure Services, said Lester Keizer, CEO of Business Continuity Technologies, a Las Vegas-based VAR.
"If Microsoft is really serious about playing in the channel, investing in the channel, putting their money where their mouth is, then yes, I'm interested. In the past, they talked about their [Surface] tablet, [and] then they went the other way [direct and through limited retailers]. That caused some conflict. But if they can [engage the channel] and they show the interest, that's of interest to me."
Kris Shoemaker, a marketing and development executive at Eleven Consulting, a Waterloo, Ontario-based solution provider, said his company built its own private cloud infrastructure for clients. But, he might be interested in Microsoft Azure services if it made sense.
"Certainly, if they have an infrastructure we could work with. We have our own private cloud infrastructure, but that doesn't mean that there couldn't be a hybrid collaboration there," he said.