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Breaking down Microsoft’s Q4 and what it means for your business.

Microsoft reported earnings last night that surpassed expectations and gave us insight into their cloud business. I am not a stock analysts, but I thought I would spend some time reviewing some of the highlights and my opinion for what’s next for the software (I mean cloud, actually, no -I meant Intelligent Cloud) giant.

Azure – Microsoft did not provide specific revenue numbers for Azure, but did say revenue grew 97% y/y.  Although exact numbers for Azure revenue is not specified, Azure is part of the all-important commercial space, which includes Dynamics 365, Azure, and a little program called Office 365.  That revenue number combined was over 18B which more than doubled last year’s number.

Office/Dynamics and Competition – Office 365 subscription business just surpassed the traditional Office model with revenue up 43%.  When was the last time you went to a box retailer and purchased software?  That’s a telling sign that more and more organizations prefer subscription pricing over box products.   Dynamics 365 was up 74%, probably because Dynamics in SPLA is about as complex as it can possibly get.  Need help with a Dynamics licensing question?  Ask your reseller.  The reseller will ask Microsoft – and then it goes into a big, dark, black hole until someone loses their mind.  Nothing happens.  Microsoft also revamped Dynamics in SPLA to make it very difficult to compete.  The same can be said for Office.  Where I see concern for Microsoft is with Google, who is just getting their foot in the door in the enterprise space.  If they make traction (and they will) it will be interesting to see the two giants go at it.  Google’s cloud platform is growing exponentially as well.

Surface Sales – I guess you can say is one of the low points of the conference call.  Surface revenue dropped 2%.  Xbox sales also dropped and became less profitable with price drops and competition.  That’s the bad news – the good news?  Maybe with the new CSP Windows 10 thing Microsoft will include Surface as part of the program to those not already a Surface Authorized Distributor, or make Surface authorization available to every CSP Direct partner.

LinkedIN – Only Microsoft can spend over 26B for an acquisition and investors are still wondering what it is they bought; and more importantly, not hurt their quarterly earnings.  Yeah, they can tie it in for Dynamics and Yammer/Teams with all those users.   They also have a pretty impressive data list of users to sell additional collaboration products and services to.  I guess the jury is still out on this.

Opinion – Microsoft recently announced a major change in their sales organization. Their sales teams that were focused on the enterprise need to focus more on solution type selling.  A lot of organizations in the industry are going through the same transformation.  It’s also not an easy thing to do.  Time will tell.

I wrote an entire article without mentioning Amazon, they report earnings next week.  It will be interesting to see how they compare to Microsoft and how much they grew year of year in comparison.  Lots of analysis say Microsoft will surpass AWS as the king of the cloud.  I still think Google is lurking in the background and might surprise some people as well.

What does all this mean for SPLA?  In my humble opinion, I think Microsoft better be careful with the way they are handling their third-party hosters.  Those numbers they threw out yesterday were great, but they can get even better.

Microsoft built a program for partners who have their own datacenters, relationships, and sales resources to promote Microsoft products and technology.   There are close to 30,000 SPLA partners (rough estimate) that have datacenters spread throughout the globe.  Nobody, can have the reach like your SPLA partners.  Google and Amazon do not have 30,000 datacenters, why disrupt it?  Don’t audit them, partner with them and help grow this business to build a true hybrid cloud ecosystem.  The strategy should be their cloud – our cloud, and customers will thank you.  Teaming with Walmart makes sense too.  Say what!

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

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Posted by on July 21, 2017 in In My Opinion, Uncategorized

 

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The Cloud Insider News – Dynamics CRM

We read article after article, use rights after use rights, to provide you the best and accurate information.  Now it’s your turn.  The Cloud Insider News takes articles written by you to tell your story and help educate the community.  In this edition, we take a look at CRM.  Have a hot topic? Email info@splalicensing.com

The Register Microsoft plans summer CRM war opener against Salesforce

XRMCRM Online FAQ

Omnivue.net (white paper) – Is Your Business Ready for ERP?

SaaSPlaza – What’s all the hype about Microsoft Dynamics 365?

Wealthmanagement.com/Tamarac – Five Ways a Client Portal Can Transform Your Practice

WatServ – Dynamics 365 Pricing Plans and Migration Discount Announced at Dynamics 365 Tech Conference.

Channele2eMicrosoft Preps Partners for Dynamics 365, LinkedIN Integration

Cisco – Cisco Unified CallConnector for Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Caltech Dynamics 365 Enterprise Edition Customer Service

Tribridge Is it Time to Check the Vital Signs of Your Microsoft Dynamics CRM System?

Computer WorldAdobe continues to march to the cloud

IpipelineCustomer Centricity – Do you “CRM?”

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
 

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The Cloud Insider Times

In this edition of The Cloud Insider Times, you will find articles on the likes of Google, Amazon, IBM, Veeam, and the infamous Shared Computer Activation (among others) If your company would like to be included in future articles, please email info@splalicensing.com
Computer Business Review – Three Private Cloud Myths Busted!
 
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Posted by on April 20, 2017 in The Cloud Insider Times

 

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Datacenter Outsourcing

I’ve written before on how partnering with an established provider can save you money, especially as a short term solution to get your hosting business started.  What I haven’t really addressed is the licensing.

Data Center Outsourcing is essentially what the name applies.  “Data Center” and “Outsourcing”; you outsource your data center. Amazing how that works.  Microsoft definition is a bit more confusing – amazing how that works too. From the outsourcing guide:

  1. “A Data Center Provider is a Service Provider that provides Software Services, usually IaaS, to another Service Provider using Products licensed from Microsoft through its own SPLA..”

Microsoft Azure is a good example of a data center outsourcing company.  When you sign up for Azure, Windows will be included in the service.  They are essentially providing the infrastructure (Windows and/or SQL cores) and you provide the application licenses via your own SPLA.  When you leverage another service provider who provides the infrastructure, they must be providing the Windows licenses. Hmmm…here’s why.

Let’s say you have a signed SPLA agreement to offer Exchange to your clients and you decide to use Brett’s Hosting to provide the infrastructure.  Brett’s Hosting offers a public cloud environment (multiple customers sharing same resources).  Under this model, you will report Exchange licenses for each user that HAS access to the software and NOT report Windows under your own SPLA; Brett’s Hosting would report Windows via their own SPLA.  Why?  If it is a shared environment, there is no way Brett’s Hosting can allocate processors for you to report it.  SQL cores works the same way.  Still don’t believe me?  Check out the FAQ guide from Azure here. Notice under SQL it states you can purchase a VM or use SAL licenses.  Notice under Windows it states Windows is included with your agreement.

Here’s the bottom line, if you decide to outsource your data center to a public cloud provider, ask them how they manage the Windows OS.  If they say it is not included in the cost of the service and you should be providing the licenses, they are out of compliant.

Want more proof?  Download the outsourcing guide here

That being said, if you provide data center outsourcing services, I think you are in the right business. This is the fastest growing area within the hosting industry.  Windows is relatively inexpensive from a licensing perspective, especially as you add more VM’s and can capitalize on the Data Center edition.  (remember…unlimited VM’s).  SQL can get a bit more complex, but if you understand it I think that could be an added value over your competition.  Last, because you report Windows and SQL only and let the service provider control the user based licensing; it limits your compliance exposure.  (processors/cores are easier to track).

So are you a data center outsource or a service provider?  Do you work with someone to resell your solution or do it alone?  Would love to learn more about your offerings. If you need guidance or best practices or just want a second opinion from a licensing perspective you can email me at blaforge@splalicensing.com.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2014 in Data Center Outsourcing

 

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Two heads are better than one!

We all know Amazon. What was once known as an online bookstore has transformed into an online behemoth of hosted services. What’s interesting about Amazon, like Microsoft and others, is they leverage strategic partnerships to grow their business. Microsoft does this through the partner channel (you, me, and others). Amazon, because they are in several industries, is a bit more unique. I read an article recently on how Amazon is going after consumer products. According to the Wall Street Journal, they established alliances with companies such as Proctor and Gamble to lower shipping costs, establish warehouses, and deliver goods to the end customer more quickly then doing it on their own. What they are doing is setting up shop inside Proctor and Gamble’s warehouses, thus reducing the cost of storing and transporting their goods. This program is called “Vendor Flex.” This is a great way to compete against the Wal-Mart’s of the world. Watch out grocery stores, Amazon is knocking on your customers door! (literally) In the end, Amazon recognizes where it is strong (e commerce) and utilizes partners where it lacks resources.

Microsoft is placing a big bet on hybrid cloud environments (big surprise..right?). They already have strategic partners with AT&T and the like to build out diverse scenarios, but they are also leveraging their biggest licensing program, the Enterprise Agreement (EA) to gain market share.  I won’t divulge into the Enterprise Agreement, you can read about it via the Microsoft website, but they are going after this group with a vengeance.  They took Office 365 and made it into a billion dollar business by leveraging partnerships and will do the same with Azure. They created incentives for system integrators to deploy it, had resellers promote it, and utilized their own licensing agreements to sell it.

I used to manage Office 365 (at the time BPOS) on the reseller side. I thought this was the perfect program for small companies that do not have the resources to manage an infrastructure. In a way that’s true, but I underestimated how larger companies can leverage hosted solutions. They utilize their existing volume licensing agreement and have certain departments off premise while others on premise. For companies that do not have the resources to configure it, they can use the partner channel to deploy it. Microsoft turned around Office 365, they will do the same with Azure, all the while leveraging their partners.

If players like Microsoft and Amazon have strategic alliances…shouldn’t you? Does your partner offer the resources you need to succeed or are they just less expensive? Do you have a white labeling program or consider white labeling yourself? How are you leveraging SPLA? Have you reached out to your vendors for support? How does your SPLA reseller help? If interested, you should attend the Microsoft Hosting Summit or attend Hosting Con, where resellers and partners connect. Check it out for yourself http://www.hostingcon.com. Reach out to me, I can help too! Maybe in the end I’m right, two heads can be better than one!

Thanks,

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2013 in In My Opinion

 

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No More Cloud!

Private cloud, public cloud, hybrid cloud, ominous cloud, or whatever the cloud, maybe now is the time to create a new buzz word to describe your offering.  People  have their own opinion on what “cloud” really means, and this leads to even more confusion. I believe the term “cloud” was first used by Eric Schmidt with Google, who in conversation said “cloud.”  (Don’t quote me on that).

Regardless of the kind of cloud you market, what you are really saying is “I have a solution to your problem that I can help you with.” It used to be the cloud was synonymous with storage. According to a recent Gartner study, over 50% of enterprises will have some sort of applications hosted somewhere else.  I can guarantee not all of that is storage!

Successful companies that host information for other organizations do more than just provide a cloud environment, they provide a solution. Companies who consider themselves a trusted solution provider as oppose to just a cloud provider (or even a service provider) will win. “Trusted” is the key word.  The biggest obstacle remains security.  Can they trust you with their data?

The question you need to ask yourself is what differentiates your offering from the 8,500 other hosting companies? Keep in mind -everyone is 99.9% uptime (yeah right). The entire IT landscape makes up roughly $2 trillion dollars. According to the Microsoft site, Azure signs up over 1,000 customers (not users) a day and Office 365 claims that one in four enterprise customers use it. It’s not just Microsoft. Take a look at Amazon, VMWare, and Google. Everyone wants to be “Cloud.” Check out http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/cloud/index.html

In my article, “Office 365 Under SPLA” I expressed you need to embrace the big players, not compete. As an example, Amazon and Azure will not deploy RDS, you need to provide RDS via SPLA. Maybe that’s an opportunity. Check out the FAQ guide for Azure http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/pricing/licensing-faq/ (especially under RDS) They provide the infrastructure, you provide the RDS licenses to the customer. Maybe the SAL for SA SKU is your route – (which I might add is NEVER reported). SAL for SA is simply a way for your customer who already made the investment in software assurance on the underlying software to pay less.  There’s also license mobility with software assurance to consider.

Here’s my point in all of this- if the IT industry is 2 trillion dollars, I want you to get a piece of that very large pie.  To do that, you have to go beyond “cloud.”  Question to consider -what are you doing to help customers with their hosted solutions that no one else is doing today? Answer that intelligently, you will win.  Maybe this is the “Solution Provider Licensing Agreement” after all.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on October 8, 2013 in In My Opinion

 

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