Microsoft: It's Time To Pounce On Cloud Market With The Right Tools

Adoption of cloud-enabling platforms such as Office 365 and Azure is widespread, and profits are surging, Microsoft President of Server and Tools Satya Nadella told a convention center of about 15,000 gathered in Houston for the annual conference that brings together Microsoft executives with its partners.

"We can build on that momentum and truly capture and lead this next generation of modern business on the cloud," he said.

[Related: Microsoft: Google's Cloud May Be Bigger, But Our Cloud Is Better ]

Riding the momentum to profitability will take solutions that, Nadella said, "speak to the here-and-now needs of customers" building a more dynamic business with social enterprise.

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That means giving customers the Windows devices, which were on full display at WPC, running Windows software such as 365, according to Nadella.

It also means implementing what he called "people-centric IT" that will help partners provide business controls their customers want with the freedom of BYOD their employees demand.

Office 365, for example, provides new security features but bakes in Skype and Yammer and integrates them across devices.

Microsoft on Monday previewed what Nadella called the "next giant leap" in business intelligence and insight into big data with Power BI for Office 365, which provides public and private data sets and can be accessed directly through Excel.

"We, I think, have the most unique opportunity ahead of us to lead this next-generation enterprise-computing platform with devices and services," Nadella said. "So let's go ahead and make that opportunity a real reality for all of us and drive market success."

Nadella's sink-or-swim message was "important but subtle," said Jim Crowley of Arvato Distribution GmbH, a Bertelsmann subsidiary based in Germany and one of Microsoft's key end-to-end solutions and managed service providers.

The cloud transition is inevitable, Crowley said. SMBs that don't get on board will be stuck with an old expensive business model, he said.

He praised Microsoft's ability to integrate its products across devices but wanted to see a focus on software from Microsoft. Let partners figure out how to monetize the products, he said. "Microsoft is building the ecosystem."