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Microsoft Channel Chief: About Those Linux Moves

Microsoft Channel Chief Phil Sorgen

Microsoft Channel Chief Phil Sorgen

When Microsoft Corp. recently announced free SQL server licenses for Oracle Corp. database customers, the move didn’t happen in a vacuum. A case in point: Phil Sorgen, corporate VP of Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Group, says multiple moves are unfolding to align Microsoft and partners for more customer success.

Examples include:

  • The free SQL Server offer, designed for Oracle customers that jump to Microsoft’s database;
  • the recent decision to port SQL Server to Linux; and
  • Azure’s recently added support for Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL).

“The True North for Microsoft and partners is customer success,” Sorgen told ChannelE2E earlier today. “We won’t necessarily announce a specific partner program promotion each time we make a move. But if you think about our decision to bring SQL Server to Linux or Red Hat to Azure, we’re creating more opportunity for partners. We believe our partners are already leading with Microsoft solutions. But many partners have multi-platform capabilities. SQL for Linux and Red Hat for Azure makes fuller use of those capabilities.”

Opening Up to More Opportunities

Indeed, Microsoft earlier this month announced plans to port SQL Server to Linux. The database — like many of Microsoft’s server applications — was only offered on Windows Server and in Microsoft’s cloud. Within days of that announcement, Microsoft North America President Judson Althoff announced the free SQL Server license offer for Oracle customers that migrate to Microsoft’s database. In the ultimate irony, Althoff is a former Oracle executive who once led that company’s global channel partner program.

Meanwhile, the Red Hat on Azure relationship surfaced in November 2015. Microsoft supports multiple Linux distributions in Azure. But the Red Hat support was long overdue. Under former CEO Steve Ballmer, the Microsoft-Red Hat relationship never blossomed, and Microsoft worked more closely with Red Hat rivals like SUSE Linux and Canonical Ubuntu.

Newer CEO, Modern Strategy

Under current CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft has rethought its overall approach to software platforms. The Windows Azure brand gave way to Azure. Open source projects have multiplied across Microsoft’s campus. And relationships with rivals — Red Hat, Oracle and Salesforce.com — have shifted toward increased coopetition (both cooperating and competition).

ChannelE2E will share more details from the Phil Sorgen interview later today.

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