The channel shouldn't count Microsoft out of the running for enterprise BYOD just yet, even as the industry waits to see how the impact of the blockbuster partnership between Apple and IBM shakes out. That's the word from Avanade President, North America Aziz Virani coming on the heels of Tuesday's announcement.
Microsoft has the backing of a strong partner base in companies such as Accenture and Avanade that can help bring their solutions to market amid what Virani called the mobile "revolution" in which employees are clamoring to bring their devices to work and enterprises are looking to comply.
"I think Microsoft historically has had a very strong tradition and history of creating a partner ecosystem, in terms of companies that use and develop on the Microsoft platform," Virani said. "They clearly have the historical strength of creating partner ecosystems of developers and other companies. I think they'll continue to do that."
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While there are still very few details around what applications will be brought to the table and how they will be brought to market through the partnership, Virani said it validates on a higher level the need for companies to capitalize on the "tremendous" opportunities in mobility. Apple and IBM are trying to marry mobility with opportunities in the enterprise through devices, platforms and services, he said.
"A lot would depend on the details of what this is, but at a macro level, I think this tries to capitalize on a pretty significant trend," Virani said.
The news has put the focus on Apple and IBM, but Virani said solution providers shouldn't count out Microsoft just yet. Avanade, formed by a joint venture of Accenture and Microsoft, is a more than $1 billion solution provider that ranks No. 34 on CRN's SP500 list.
Virani cited former CEO Steve Ballmer's $7.1 billion acquisition of Nokia last fall as the company's grand entrance into mobility. Current CEO Satya Nadella is shifting the company's focus even further to emphasize a "cloud-first" and "mobile-first" strategy, as he outlined in a 3,100 word email to employees last week.
"I think Microsoft is making tremendous push and progress. I think Microsoft's own changes, in terms of the new CEO and all of that, I think they are really ushering in a new era around focusing on mobility and cloud, first and foremost, on everything they do. You can already see some early moves that Microsoft has made, in terms of emphasizing becoming much more of an open company that's much more focused and centric around cloud and mobility. I think that shift is already happening in a very significant way in Microsoft as it is," Virani said.
On top of its own mobility push, Virani said Microsoft is also following the accelerating industry trend of forming partnerships for a competitive edge. Vendors are realizing more and more that they can't build a monopoly up and down the stack on their own, Virani said, even if they are as "mighty" as Apple, IBM or Microsoft.
"I would think that … ongoing partnerships will be a part of [Microsoft's] strategy as well. I don’t think it is Microsoft's intent to do everything on their own. I think they appreciate and understand that they have their strengths and they're going to need partners along the way," Virani said.
PUBLISHED JULY 16, 2014