Partners will see Open Licensing option for Microsoft's Azure

Microsoft's cloud platform continues to grow with the announcement of an Open Licensing program option for partners.

Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) 2014 is just a couple of months away, and based on Microsoft’s focus on its Azure cloud platform, the technology is likely to get top billing at the event. Today, for example, Microsoft announced that Azure will be available for partners to resell in the Open Licensing programs beginning on Aug. 1. 

Microsoft is opening another licensing venue for partners in addition to two existing options for purchasing Microsoft Azure -- online through Microsoft or as part of an Enterprise Agreement (EA) with the vendor. This latest option allows partners to purchase from distributors.

How does it work? Partners purchase tokens from a preferred distributor and apply the credit to a customer's Azure Portal in increments of $100. The credits can be used for any consumption-based service available in Azure, according to Microsoft.

Josh Waldo, senior director of cloud partner strategy at Microsoft, wrote in a recent blog post that this latest option allows partners to maintain their direct relationship with the customer as they build a cloud practice that might include infrastructure services, data services and app services.

Partners can expect to hear more about growing their cloud practice with Microsoft's Azure in Open Licensing at WPC 2014, being held July 13-17 in Washington, D.C., according to the company. Microsoft partners can also attend Azure Ramp Up Summit on June 4.

Addressing a couple of hundred partners last week at Tech Data Corp.'s TechSelect 2014 conference in Orlando, Fla., Long Tran, director of partner technology strategy with Microsoft, focused his talk on the opportunity for partners to focus on hybrid cloud and Azure as a part of that strategy.

He pointed out that 57% of Fortune 500 companies already use Microsoft's Azure and that cloud partners outperform their competition, earning about 1.6 times the recurring revenue as a portion of total revenue compared with other partners, a figure that's based on recently published IDC research – "Successful Cloud Partners 2.0" -- sponsored by Microsoft.

According to IDC, public IT cloud services spending reached $47.4 billion in 2013 and is expected to reach $108 billion in 2017, with a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23.5% -- that's five times the growth of the IT industry as a whole.

Of greater interest to partners is IDC's prediction for worldwide public IT cloud services revenue of $107.2 billion in 2017, of which the largest piece of the pie, or 44%, is attributed to the U.S.

Tran went as far as to suggest that Azure will be Microsoft's next billion-dollar product, followed by Power BI for Office 365, self-service analytics for business data using Excel.

Earlier this week, Microsoft and SAP AG expanded their global partnership with support for SAP applications -- SAP Business Suite software, SAP Business All-in-One solutions, SAP Mobile Platform, SAP Adaptive Server Enterprise (SAP ASE) and the developer edition of the SAP HANA platform -- on Microsoft Azure, expected by the end of the second quarter.

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