Microsoft To Add Cloud OS, Azure Marketplace Partners

Microsoft will expand its global network of partners building hybrid clouds and developing apps to run on Azure, the company told IT professionals and developers at its TechEd conference in Barcelona.

Microsoft will recruit more local cloud service providers to join the Cloud OS network, said VP of Azure Jason Zander in his keynote in Spain. The software giant also will start certifying for the Azure Marketplace third-party managed applications and services.

"We are very committed and interested in building a true hybrid cloud ecosystem around Azure. And no cloud is complete without applications," Garth Fort, GM of enterprise partners at Microsoft, told CRN.

[ Related: Microsoft Adds New Data Services For Developers To Azure]

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Microsoft in December introduced the Cloud OS network, empowering selected service providers to build complimentary cloud offerings with Microsoft technologies and technical requirements defining Azure compatibility. The resulting hybrid clouds facilitate easy movement of workloads and scalable, powerful cloud solutions, by bringing together the service providers' offerings, enterprise private clouds and Azure.

Cloud OS was motivated by the worldview "that now and for the foreseeable future, customers will be consuming cloud capacity from three sources: behind their own firewall, from public clouds like Azure and in many cases local and industry specific third-party service providers," Fort said.

"A true hybrid cloud spans all three of those estates," he told CRN.

The Cloud OS network has grown to more than 100 third-party cloud service providers delivering and integrating clouds hosted in over 600 local datacenters. Now Microsoft plans to expand that network with a recruitment blitz the company hopes will bring another 250 partners across 100 countries into the gold and silver tier within a year.

Ari Karppinen, executive VP of managed services at Tieto, told CRN that being part of the Cloud OS network has contributed to rapid growth, with the IT service company doubling revenue from the previous year.

’Cloud services is the future, driving the inevitable transformation at hand for our customers. Our Microsoft-based offerings are generating a significant contribution of this growth. By being part of the Microsoft Cloud OS Network we have developed the technology and operations we need to expand our cloud offerings and revenues and scale our cloud business through extensive automation,’ Karppinen told CRN.

NEXT: An Evolving Marketplace

Microsoft also shared at TechEd new certification guidelines for its Azure Marketplace that will allow technology partners to contribute managed applications and add-ons that users can purchase and deploy directly from the Azure console.

The expansion of Azure Certified will allow third-party builders "to build an app and attest it can run in a performant, highly reliable way within the Azure infrastructure. That in many ways is the gateway into the Azure marketplace," Fort said.

Michael Hughes, SVP of worldwide sales at Barracuda, told CRN that the software vendor's Web Application Firewall is one of the first third-party offerings to be certified for Azure.

’Customers today are looking to reduce time and costs associated with bringing applications online, and having our solutions available as part of the Azure Marketplace simplifies the process of migrating those applications to the cloud in a secure fashion,’ Hughes said.

’For many of our customers, these applications are their business, meaning they have to be available secure, and provide a great user experience,’ Hughes added.

Riverbed, a network optimization developer, introduced a virtual application delivery controller, SteelApp, and WAN optimization product, SteelHead, to the online marketplace.

"As enterprises continue to move toward a hybrid model, they face a range of new performance challenges, including architectural complexity, distribution of resources across private and public data centers and blind spots for support, management and security," said Riverbed Director Judy Mirkin.

By deploying SteelApp and SteelHead in Azure, customers will benefit from the cost-savings and agility of the cloud, while also solving performance challenges such as optimizing and accelerating the delivery of applications from Azure to business locations, Mirkin told CRN.

"Microsoft Azure is growing at an impressive rate and Microsoft is investing in resources and their key partners, like Riverbed. By providing the Azure Certified Program, Microsoft is working to ensure that enterprise customers can reach our industry-leading applications and gain a great user experience," Mirkin said.

Microsoft also revealed a number of new features to Azure and Office 365 at TechEd.