Microsoft Adds Amazon To List Of Companies It Doesn't Want Showing Up At Partner Conference


Amazon employees and representatives that are hankering to see firsthand what Microsoft has in store at its Worldwide Partner Conference in July are out of luck.

Microsoft, which already bars employees from Google, VMware and Salesforce.com from attending WPC, has added Amazon to its list for this year's event, which will be held from July 13-17 in Washington, D.C.

Microsoft didn't respond to a request for comment on its rationale for barring Amazon from WPC, which last year attracted some 14,000 attendees from more than 150 countries.

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But this isn't too surprising, since Microsoft, Amazon Web Services and Google are in the throes of a cloud price war that shows no sign of abating anytime soon.

After launching Azure Infrastructure-as-a-Service last April, Microsoft vowed to match Amazon Web Services' frequent cloud price cuts. Microsoft has followed through on this pledge twice this year, most recently in April, and it now claims Azure is cheaper than AWS for certain types of virtual servers.

But according to sources familiar with the situation, Microsoft is also unhappy about losing several of its managers and other employees to AWS in recent months.

While there has always been a regular flow of employees back and forth between Microsoft and Amazon due to the companies' physical proximity, their intensifying competition makes the defections more of an issue, sources said.

That said, Microsoft's relationship with Amazon isn't likely to deteriorate into outright loathing, as it has with Google. Amazon is a symbiotic partner of Microsoft, selling tons of Windows Server, SQL, SharePoint and other software on its EC2 cloud.

Microsoft has made a number of recent additions to Azure that are geared toward making its cloud IaaS more "enterprise-ready," including multifactor authentication and single sign-on for SaaS apps. These could help Microsoft pull customers away from AWS, Matt Scherocman, president of Interlink Cloud Advisors, a Cincinnati-based Microsoft partner, told CRN.

Microsoft's AWS snub is the latest in a string of cases where vendors have used attendance at conferences as a competitive tool. In February, VMware asked partners Nutanix and Veeam not to come to its partner conference, and it later emerged that VMware was upset by Nutanix poaching several of its engineers.

In the same month, Red Hat canceled Piston Cloud's sponsorship of its annual customer conference after losing out on a contract to the San Francisco-based OpenStack startup. Red Hat later changed its mind and reinvited Piston Cloud.  

PUBLISHED MAY 19, 2014

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