Microsoft vertical strategy linked to SIs, ISVs

As Microsoft continues to push into vertical markets, the company wants to incorporate ISVs and systems integrators into its strategy; other news from the week.

Microsoft is tapping systems integrators, advisory partners and ISVs to advance its industry objectives in the company's 2021 fiscal year.

Executives speaking this week at Microsoft Inspire, the company's annual partner conference, provided an update on the Microsoft vertical market strategy. Microsoft in 2017 launched an industry initiative, organizing its account teams along industry lines and focusing on vertical markets such as financial services, retail, manufacturing, government, education and healthcare. The industry emphasis has remained a priority for the Microsoft as it pursues digital transformation -- projects that aim to reinvent businesses and require deep vertical market knowledge.

Digital transformation is expected to generate direct investment of $7.1 trillion by 2023, noted Nick Parker, corporate vice president at Microsoft, citing IDC research.

Core Microsoft vertical objectives

"Our industry momentum is growing and will continue building in FY 21," noted Casey McGee, vice president of ISV partner strategy at Microsoft. The company is making partners a part of that push.

Indeed, McGee pointed to three core industry objectives for the fiscal year, which began July 1: drive industry thought leadership; win with partners' new customers and drive business outcomes; and "activate the ecosystem for industry expertise and scale with ISVs and SIs."

The overarching goal is to add value for mutual industry customers. ISVs can contribute when they build "vertical- or industry-specific solutions" or extend solutions built on top of Microsoft's cloud offerings, McGee said. Microsoft, meanwhile, looks to integrators to provide industry expertise for customers and Microsoft's ISV partners, he said. Integrators, he added, create "services and support practices that bring our first- and third-party solutions to life."

McGee cited EY, a professional services firm, as an example. EY contributed its industry knowledge as an integrator to build a CRM and unified marketing conversion system for the Miami Heat basketball team, working with Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Adobe Experience Cloud to do so. McGee said the project resulted in a 30% increase in ticket sales.

In addition, Takuya Hirano, vice president, global systems integrators and advisory consultants at Microsoft, cited the industry focus as a way for Microsoft to partner with its global SI and advisory consulting partners. He said those partner types have strong industry intellectual property along with business know-how.

Jared Dickson, solutions architect at OST, an IT consulting and digital transformation company based in Grand Rapids, Mich., said he appreciates Microsoft's increased focus on industry. "As a consultancy, learning a new industry is something our people are often faced with," he said. "The new level of alignment adds value to me, as it provides additional tools and content to help me do my job and understand customers better."

Microsoft Inspire 2020: Cloud takeaways

  • Alysa Taylor, corporate vice president of industry marketing at Microsoft, said the company's Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare, which debuted as a public preview in May, is the company's first industry-specific cloud offering and won't be its last. The plan is to tailor first- and third-party offerings for industry needs and use cases, she said.
  • Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, citing Morgan Stanley research, said 89% of CIOs now plan to accelerate cloud investments versus 54% prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Parker said 59% of services partners' earnings will be coming from cloud-based services by 2021. That statistic is based on research Microsoft conducted with MDC Research.

Paycheck Protection Program: A new round?

The next economic relief package, yet to solidify in Congress, could include a fresh round of funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which has provided billions of dollars in forgivable loans to businesses since April.

The new funds would supplement the money remaining in the program. The qualifications for applicants might involve a different eligibility test, however. In the original PPP, applicants were required to attest that economic uncertainty made the loan necessary to keep the business going. Loans under the expanded program could require applicants demonstrate that their revenue dropped by more than 50% due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

An analysis of Small Business Administration data indicates more than 15,000 IT services firms have received nearly $8 billion in loans through PPP. Kabbage, an Atlanta company that provides funding to small businesses, has approved more than 3,200 PPP loans for IT-focused companies totaling $120 million, according to a company spokesperson. Kabbage launched a line-of-credit program targeting channel partners in 2018.

LogMeIn targets MSPs with LastPass offer

LogMeIn has released a new MSP version of its password management and single sign-on tool LastPass Enterprise.

The company said LastPass now features a new sub-account functionality that gives MSPs a centralized view of multiple LastPass accounts. MSPs can buy LastPass from LogMeIn on a monthly consumption basis and provide it to their end customers. MSPs can control the billing as well.

Rick Ribas, vice president of global channels at LogMeInRick Ribas

"It's something [MSPs] have been asking for for a long time," said Rick Ribas, vice president of global channels at LogMeIn, based in Boston. "We are thinking this is going to take off. There's been some pretty good feedback so far."

Ribas added that MSPs represent an important segment of LogMeIn's business. MSPs engage LogMeIn around multiple products in its portfolio, such as Rescue remote support software, Central remote computer management software, and Bold360 live chat engagement and AI software, he said.

Onepath launches UC product for SMBs

Onepath, an MSP based in Atlanta, has rolled out a unified communication-as-a-service offering geared to the SMB market and designed for rapid deployment.

Alysha Forsythe, product manager at Onepath, said the company's Cloud PBX offering was launched in response to the challenges stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. She described Cloud PBX as an "express solution" based on Onepath's existing unified communications offering, developed a few years ago.

While the latter offering takes 30 to 60 days to deploy, Cloud PBX can be "stood up in a matter of 48 hours," Forsythe said. She said Onepath is targeting deployments of 50 to 250 seats with Cloud PBX but noted the technology can scale to accommodate larger customers, citing deployments of up to 800 users.

Channel partners are experiencing growth in unified communications consulting and implementation as organizations look to boost collaboration and telephony capabilities for remote work.

Other news

  • SolarWinds, a provider of IT management software, is integrating Microsoft 365 capabilities into its N-central and SolarWinds RMM offerings. The collaboration with Microsoft will let service providers monitor devices managed via Microsoft Intune within the SolarWinds dashboard, according to SolarWinds.
  • Auth0, an identity platform vendor based in Bellevue, Wash., said it added more than 20 partners in the last five months. Newcomers to the Auth0 Partner Program include Cognizant, NTT Data, Abacus, PwC Germany, Idento, Softchoice and OSC Korea.
  • LeanIX, an enterprise architecture tool vendor based in Boston, said it has doubled its channel roster over the past year, now counting 54 partners around the world. The company, which works with consultant, reseller and technology partners, signed Wipro Ltd. as its newest consulting partner.
  • Fortinet said its acquisition of Opaq provides an expanded secure access service edge (SASE) offering that channel partners can build upon. The company said partners such as managed security services providers can integrate Opaq's multi-tenant SASE platform into their own offerings. Opaq has focused its channel efforts on service providers in recent years.
  • Accenture, Cisco and Sirti have collaborated on a telecommunications network virtualization project with Enel Group, a multinational power company. The project is part of Enel's Beyond Cloud Computing program, which incorporates SD-WAN and edge computing technology. Accenture helped manage the digital transformation effort and supported the implementation of the centralized infrastructure.
  • Lenovo unveiled a new partner portal that spans the company's PC operation and data center products. The Lenovo Partner Hub offers channel companies "one point of entry" for marketing materials, pricing data and other resources, said Steve Biondi, head of partnerships and channels at Lenovo.
  • A study from NTT DATA Services, an IT services provider based in Plano, Texas, revealed only 10% of organizations use data "very effectively for transformational purposes," although nearly 80% of the survey respondents said they recognize the strategic value of data. NTT DATA, in partnership with Longitude, a Financial Times company, polled 500 North American executives.
  • 2nd Watch, a managed cloud company based in Seattle, launched a database migration service. The company said the service supports the transition of SQL Server, MySQL, PostgreSQL, MariaDB and Oracle Database to AWS and Microsoft Azure.
  • VMware added a Cloud Native Master Services Competency to its Partner Connect program. The company said the competency is the first one related to its VMware Tanzu portfolio. VMware in March revamped its Partner Connect program.
  • SAP made new partner applications available for its SAP Data Warehouse Cloud, a data and analytics offering. The partner apps, which SAP describes as "data connectors and business scenarios," can be found on the SAP App Center, a digital marketplace.
  • Altr, a data governance and protection company based in Austin, Texas, has launched a partner program for integrators, OEMs, small consulting firms and developers. The company offers a four-tier program for partners that refer, resell or implement Altr's data security-as-a-service offering: two tiers for integrators, a technology and alliance partner tier, and an OEM partner tier.
  • Automox, an endpoint and workload management platform provider based in Boulder, Colo., took the wraps off a partner program that supports value-added resellers (VARs), MSPs and technology alliances/OEM partners. The channel initiative includes a multi-tiered reseller program with deal registration. In addition, Automox said it has appointed Russell Eddleman as vice president of channel. He was previously global vice president of partner and alliances at Resolve Systems.
  • Harness, a San Francisco company that has created a continuous delivery-as-a-service platform, said it has expanded its partner program. The company has established partnerships with Ahead LLC, Benchmark Corp., Digital Architects Zurich, Econocom, Evry, Grid Dynamics, Orasi, Relevance Labs and Trace3.
  • The Rackspace Technology Partner Program expanded its international reach, working with master agent Telarus and its partners in the U.K. and EMEA.
  • OpenText is expanding its security awareness training for SMBs and MSPs through a partnership with cybersecurity Ninjio, a cybersecurity education content provider. The companies will enhance Webroot Security Awareness Training with new video content, OpenText said. The videos will speak to the COVID-19 environment and provide security education for working from home.
  • Schneider Electric rolled out an opportunity registration program for its APC partners. The program offers increased financial incentives for identifying, developing and closing deals in strategic IT growth areas, the company said.
  • Micron Technology Inc., a memory and storage manufacturer based in Boise, Idaho, introduced a Technology Enablement Program, which aims to foster the development of computing platforms using DDR5 DRAM. Micron said it plans to work with distributors, VARs and OEMs/ODMs as part of the program.
  • Copado, a Chicago-based company, said ClickDeploy will resell Copado's Salesforce DevOps offering. ClickDeploy provides Salesforce release management and DevOps offerings.

Market Share is a news roundup published every Friday.

Additional reporting by Spencer Smith.

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