Only a quarter of Microsoft partners have made the move to the cloud five years after the software giant pledged to revolutionize its business, leaving the potentially lucrative playing field wide open for cloud converts.
Microsoft executives touted that solution providers that have made the leap gain potentially 140 times more profit than those that haven't. But the cloud holdouts clearly disappointed Microsoft COO Kevin Turner, who provided a jolt to the audience, estimated at more than 15,000 attendees, during his Wednesday morning keynote speech at the Worldwide Partners Conference in Houston this week.
"We need you to migrate," he told the crowd. "The reality is this is about accelerating growth together," Turner said. "Use the cloud to sell the cloud."
In particular Microsoft is trying to gain an upper hand over competitors like Amazon Web Services by offering public and private cloud options while still supporting on-premises options.
"Hybrid is the secret sauce," Turner said.
Indeed, the hybrid cloud strategy turned out to be the star of the show, even creating more buzz among partners than the sneak-peak at Windows 8.1.
"8.1 certainly was nice," Jeff Gellman, director at LiquidHub, a Wayne, Pa-based systems integrator and IT strategy firm and Microsoft partner, said Thursday, the last day of WPC. But growth is in the cloud, Gellman said, echoing many of his colleagues in Houston.
Microsoft's mix-and-match strategy pleased Robert Syversen, vice president of NTT Data, an IT consulting firm with headquarters in Boston. Windows 8 is going to be revolutionary, he said. But, it's going to take time for partners to adjust.
In contrast, he called the hybrid cloud a "huge competitive advantage" that puts his company in a position to win customers still in the cloud learning phase.
"It's a big step forward," Syversen said.
But only 25 percent -- or about 150,000 -- of Microsoft's 650,000 partners are in the cloud, Microsoft Corporate Vice President of Worldwide Partner Group Jon Roskill told CRN during an interview at WPC. Roughly three-quarters of the 25 percent of Microsoft partners in the cloud are legacy companies, with the remaining 25 percent cloud natives, he said.
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