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Anexinet: Microsoft Cloud Opportunity Is All About Services

The solution provider has launched several cloud ‘kickstart’ programs around Office 365 migrations, data security and application migrations.

Solution provider powerhouse Anexinet has seen its Microsoft cloud revenue surge in recent years driven by services for helping customers migrate to Office 365 and Azure, as well as by Microsoft's introduction of new cloud features.

While the Azure cloud platform is still new to many businesses, the move to Office 365 has been going on longer. But there's still "a lot left to do" in terms of Office 365 migrations, said Ned Bellavance, director of cloud solutions at Blue Bell, Pa.-based Anexinet, No. 209 on CRN's 2018 Solution Provider 500.

[Related: Microsoft Azure: 5 Key Takeaways On The Partner Opportunity]

"There's a ton of companies that haven't been ready to do the migration yet because they had security and compliance concerns," Bellavance told CRN.

But with Microsoft's rollout of features such as conditional access—which lets organizations control who is accessing certain applications, and from where—"those security fears have been allayed," he said.

Meanwhile, as Exchange 2013 reaches end-of-life and Exchange 2016 approaches extended support, "it's decision time for a lot of organizations," Bellavance said. "Do we continue to upgrade, and go to Exchange 2019, which might be the last version of Exchange? Microsoft hasn't said, but it kind of feels like it. Or do we skip the upgrade and purchase of hardware, and move our email to Office 365?"

Increasingly, Anexinet customers are choosing the latter: the solution provider's revenue from Microsoft cloud has grown by 25 percent for each of the last three years, driven in large part by services, Bellavance said. That increase in cloud revenue has come as portions of the firm's on-premises infrastructure business have been static or decreased, he said.

Over the past year, Anexinet has been helping to keep up momentum in cloud services with the launch of several "kickstart" programs, which aim to quickly help customers with key portions of migrating to the cloud. Those include a cloud kickstart program for migrating applications and two Office 365 kickstarts, which focus on migration and data security and debuted in January.

Each kickstart program lasts about two weeks. For the Office 365 migration kickstart, customers receive a detailed roadmap for migrating to the cloud application suite. "We help plan out and implement the necessary architecture to do a pilot of Office 365," Bellavance said.

For the Office 365 data security kickstart, the focus is on developing a customized strategy for customers around identity and access security in their Office 365 environments. "It's not so much about migration, but about increasing adoption of Office 365," Bellavance said.

Overall, Anexinet—which has about half of its cloud clients in Microsoft environments and half in AWS—is bullish about Microsoft for many reasons, Bellavance said.

For one thing, Microsoft "has done a good job of keeping people who are comfortable with Microsoft [technologies] still comfortable when they make that migration," he said.

And overall, "the image of Microsoft has just shifted tremendously in the last five years," Bellavance said.

CEO Satya Nadella and his team have "done a tremendous job to change that image, and in the process made our objective of selling Microsoft to newer organizations that much easier," he said. "We've seen instances where customers were on G Suite, that have now gone all-in on Microsoft products— because they see there are better features there, and they don't feel weird about working with Microsoft."

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