Microsoft Adds Hundreds Of Cloud Sales Reps In Battle Against Google

Microsoft is mounting an all-out cloud sales offensive against rival Google that includes a move to add 300 to 500 direct salespeople to work with partners and customers to sell cloud solutions.

"We are incrementing our sales force to go after the cloud," said Vince Menzione, Microsoft general manager, partner strategy for US Public Sector. "We are changing up our message to customers."

"All of our salespeople will be leading with cloud," said Menzione. "The message from (Microsoft CEO) Steve Ballmer is that we are all in with the cloud. Cloud is the way we lead our discussions with our customers."

Menzione detailed the big cloud push and the opportunities for partners in a keynote address on Monday before several hundred public sector solution providers at the Everything Channel XChange Public Sector conference at the Sawgrass Marriott in Jacksonville, Fla.

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Menzione said the new cloud sales assignments take hold for the start of Microsoft's new fiscal year July 1. What's more, he said Microsoft's all out cloud offensive will be on full display at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference on July 11-15 in Washington, DC.

Menzione said the partner conference will include new partner and pricing models around cloud services. "We are breaking glass within Microsoft," he said. "It (The Cloud) is changing our business models, processes, and product portfolio."

Microsoft insiders said the cloud sales push represents the same kind of all out attack that Microsoft placed in the internet game in the mid-90s when Netscape's Navigator browser early on beat Microsoft to the punch. Microsoft's aggressive push with its own Internet Explorer ultimately ended up decimating Netscape's Navigator in the browser wars.

"There is a realization that we weren't first to market, but now it is time to take all of our solutions and our rich experience in software that everyone is familiar with utilizing and focus it on the cloud," Menzione said. "There is an opportunity to get out and be a market leader."

Menzione said there is no contest between the opportunities that partners have going to market with Microsoft versus Google. "Google is an ad model," he said. " We are an enterprise model. The class of services we are offering are enterprise class services. It is not consumer e-mail we are just talking about here. This is enterprise class scale with financial SLAs (Service Level Agreements)."

"The difference is in our approach," he continued."Everything we do is around partners. We value the partner ecosystem in everything we do."

Next: New Microsoft Partner Opportunities Around Cloud

Menzione and Stephen Gilmer, Microsoft director of applied innovation, Worldwide Public Sector, detailed big partner opportunities around Software as a Service (SaaS); Platform as a Service (PaaS); and Infrastrcture as a Service (IaaS).

"This is about how you can actually leverage what Microsoft is doing from an investment and experience perspective to drive revenue for your organization," said Gilmer. "Microsoft is investing a significant amount of effort and resources to be able to provide services across the entire spectrum."

Menzione, for his part, said there is a wide range of opportunity in the cloud in areas as diverse as consulting and migration services to developing applications on Microsoft's Azure platform and even hosting private clouds with Microsoft Multi-Tenant software based solutions.

"There are going to be new partner models," said Menzione. "That is why we need our partners to get ahead of the curve and get out there with us, understand the business opportunity and where their value add is."

Patrick Wilson, CEO of Vital Signs Technology, San Ramon, Calif. said he is definitely interested in Microsoft's cloud offerings. He said Vital Signs is already selling Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) because it is "more feature rich than the Google" offerings.

Wilson, however, said he is interested in a full health-care solutions suite that includes medical management and health-care records. "We need a full functional suite," he said.