NetEnrich, Tapped Directly By Microsoft To Empower Its Partners, Delivers A Solution For The Channel

About four months ago, the world's largest software company approached NetEnrich with a simple request: Build a comprehensive solution to empower legions of Microsoft partners looking for help migrating, managing and scaling workloads in the Azure public cloud.

NetEnrich, headquartered in San Jose, Calif., had been developing remote infrastructure management tools and services for the channel for a decade, but the scope and nature of the commission from Microsoft was unique.

On Tuesday, NetEnrich delivered the goods -- a package of tools, operational services and support resources that Microsoft partners can leverage to expand their cloud practices into Azure, Raju Chekuri, NetEnrich's CEO, told CRN.

[Related: Here's Why Microsoft Thinks It Has The Upper Hand On Amazon Web Services And Google In The Cloud]

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"Microsoft was trying to figure out how to enable [partners] and bring greater time to value," Chekuri said. "We created SKUs and packaging, where there's the right value for the partner and for the market we're trying to target."

NetEnrich supports a few hundred solution providers that resell networking, servers and databases as well as cloud services from Amazon Web Services and Rackspace in addition to Microsoft.

The company builds automation engines, portals and other tools that can be white-labeled by VARs and MSPs; provides access to an operations center with a staff of more than 450; and packages those solutions into SKUs tailored for channel consumption, Chekuri told CRN.

"So the last mile is done by regional partners, and we are behind them," Chekuri said.

That was the pedigree Microsoft was looking for when selecting a partner that could help get more of its half-million global partners acclimated to selling Azure, he said.

As competition intensifies among Azure, AWS and Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft believes a differentiator is the size and scope of its channel.

The NetEnrich package helps Microsoft VARs do assessments, place orders, perform migrations and then offer ongoing managed services -- similar to what the company built at a smaller scale for another cloud provider.

"We've done it with Amazon and we're doing it with Azure in a big way," Chekuri told CRN.

Channel partners that don't have that kind of technology and support behind them face an uphill battle, he said.

"It's an interesting time for channel to figure out how to leverage and how to be relevant in this whole cloud adoption," Chekuri said, "and hopefully we can help them in our own way."

Prakash Parikh, chief operating officer of SNP Technologies, an exclusive Microsoft partner based in Hamden, Conn., that worked with NetEnrich as it developed the package, told CRN that many of Microsoft's legacy partners have gotten adept at selling Office 365 and doing Exchange email migrations.

"The challenge is, how do you take the other workloads, servers, domain controllers, backup services, to the cloud," he said. "That particular aspect has been particularly slow in respect to partners taking that step."

The NetEnrich package enables Microsoft's channel to offer those kinds of solutions at a fixed cost, then continue providing managed services, which is NetEnrich's traditional area of focus, on an ongoing basis, Parikh said.

SNP technologies, at the request of Microsoft, helped validate the NetEnrich tools during a pilot run.

"It's valuable as a service. No question about it," Parikh told CRN.