Monday, February 7, 2011

What does the Microsoft Azure opportuntiy mean for you and your business?

To Embrace the Cloud or Not, that is the question before all of us ;-)

Have you given much thought to the Microsoft Azure Cloud Computing strategy and its inevitable effect on your business?   Or, when somebody mentions Azure, does Prime Rib immediately come to mind?

BTW, Microsoft points out that the best way to remember how to pronounce Azure is to think of it like this: "AS you are walking through the door."

Microsoft Azure and Cloud computing is quite the buzz in the world of IT these days, how much time have you and your executive team dedicated towards a single discussion around the subject?  Are you aware of the massive Cloud initiatives currently underway by Amazon, Apple, ( and others?   Microsoft sees those vendors as a serious competitive threat to the traditional Microsoft based datacenter/on-premise based solutions - if they see competitive Cloud offerings as a threat, how does your organization view the Cloud?  How will the Cloud affect your ECM business?  What will the Cloud do to the traditional pricing models that exist in the market place today?  What will the Cloud do to my top line revenue growth forecasts? How do I address commission/comp plans?  Can I finance Cloud receivables?  These questions are just a tip of the iceberg.  You can either stick your head in the sand and ignore the challenge and deny the opportunity or you can choose to face the challenge head on and find the "opportunity."

You can see the topic of the Cloud will open an entirely new set discussions at an executive level and will present a new set of challenges. 

No doubt there is a whirlwind of change occurring right before your eyes with your customers.  If you haven't been talking to them about Cloud-based initiatives they are contemplating, I'll betcha dollars to donuts your competition is.   The economic value proposition is simply undeniable and let's face it, "dollars and cents" do a lot convincing these days with buyers in the sales cycle.  

First, if you know nothing about Microsoft Azure, here is a great set of resource to start with, although I promise you reading through the abundance of Microsoft authored whitepapers will take more than a few minutes:  

For the sake of time, let me provide you with an abridged version.  Microsoft Azure is a group of computing services based offered via the "Cloud." In other words, rather than buying, installing, provisioning and maintaining your own hardware/OS platforms, why not exploit the massive availability of web-accessible Windows servers in the market today?

Today, Microsoft Azure services can be broken down into the following 4 major categories: 

1) Windows Azure AppFabric;
2) SQL Azure (which CAPSYS CAPTURE announced support in early February);
3) Windows Azure and;
4) Windows Azure Marketplace.

  • Windows Azure: A Windows environment similar to what you have experienced in the past, only this time hosted in the Cloud for the purposes of running applications and storing data on computers in Microsoft data centers. 
  • SQL Azure: Relational data services in the cloud, based on SQL Server - again hosted in Microsoft's Datacenter.
  • Windows Azure AppFabric: Cloud-based infrastructure services for applications running in the cloud or on premises, hosted in Microsoft's Datacenter.
  • Windows Azure Marketplace: An online service for purchasing cloud-based data and applications.
So, why should you care and how does affect your business as a CAPSYS business partner, what is the opportunity for you and your business?  Here are a handful of points to noodle on and get your started in the right direction:

  1. Are you interested in "completely resetting the table" from a competitive positioning standpoint or do you like the idea of walking into a competitive situation and saying "we can do that, or me too?"    
  2. Do you sleep well at night hoping for the "one hit wonders" every quarter that you have banked on for years knowing that that they are growing further and farther in between due to CAPEX restrictions or; 
  3. Are you interested in a more predictable revenue/profit growth model?  Albeit at a smaller clip than on-premise transactions, but PREDICTABLE.
  4. Have you grown tried of fretting over whether or not your largest Software Assurance Renewals are actually going to "renew" year after year?  Or, perhaps your customers have caught wind of the "game" and know to beat you up every year for a 10% discount while your vendors are somehow justifying raising their cost to you for SWA renewals?  Tired of getting squeezed? 
  5. Are you interested in putting forth a solution in front of your prospect that any on-premise based competitive offering would have a very difficult if not impossible time task of matching or beating terms of: Time to Market, Cost and ROI?
If any one of these questions hit a nerve, than you should give serious thought to looking into Cloud based solutions because the Cloud is positioned very well to address everyone of the questions/challenges raised here plus offer plenty more opportunity than I can discuss in this post.

One other point I will leave you with.  Consider Microsoft's massive marketing machine and give some thought how your business can effectively ride that wave.  Did you know that you can market your solution through Microsoft's Pinpoint online marketing engine - for free? Assuming you are an authorized Microsoft Partner.  Don't have a Microsoft Azure solution to go to market with?  Well, if you are an authorized CAPSYS Business Partner, than you need to rethink your answer because YES you do!   CAPSYS now supports Microsoft SQL Azure.  So, update your Microsoft Pinpoint profiles.  Perhaps your business is not currently a Microsoft Authorized Business Partner.  visit www. and as Larry the Cable Guy says, "Get 'er Done!"