Content, Channel partners, MSP

Microsoft Azure Cloud Services Embrace MSP Partners

Corey Sanders
Corey Sanders
Microsoft Channel Chief Gavriella Schuster

Microsoft has launched a formalized Azure Cloud partner program for MSPs -- a welcome move that counters Amazon Web Services' long-established MSP partner initiatives.

Channel Chief Gavriella Schuster and Corporate VP of Azure Corey Sanders described the Azure MSP partner effort in media briefings and blog posts ahead of Microsoft's annual partner summit -- known as Microsoft Inspire 2018.

The first set of Azure Expert MSPs are listed here. First movers in the program include Cloud Direct, Coretek Services, Ensono, Intercept and Rackspace, among others.

"These expert partners have proven real world proficiency and skills, for datacenter lift-and-shift, born-in-cloud new applications, and everything in-between," Sanders wrote. "This new program will make it incredibly easy for you to discover and engage highly-capable MSPs for your cloud projects and migrations."

Microsoft Azure Expert MSPs: Details

According to Microsoft:

  • Azure Expert MSPs complete a rigorous audit by an independent third party, and also provide multiple customer references of Azure managed services projects delivered over the last 12 months.
  • To retain the badge, these expert partners need to continue to meet pre-requisites annually and complete a progress audit every year.

Still, the program requirements are not written in stone. And the program's financial metrics did not surface in the blog updates. Amid the cloud's continued evolution, the Azure Expert MSP framework was "built so that you can trust that the MSPs who’ve earned the badge are continuously working to remain true Azure experts," Sanders wrote.

Countering AWS Managed Services Providers

No doubt, Microsoft has a massive channel partner ecosystem. The company's cloud solutions provider initiatives have won major momentum for Office 365. But the company is somewhat late to market with a formalized MSP push for Azure -- especially compared to Amazon Web Services.

Indeed, the Top 50 MSPs for AWS have been growing rapidly -- working closely with Amazon through a formalized partner program for several years. Google Cloud Platform also is working more closely with MSPs. Poke around the cloud, and you'll discover that many of those AWS and Google partners also monetize and manage Azure workloads for customers. But those MSPs have been waiting for a more formalized Microsoft Azure MSP partner program to emerge.

Now, it has finally arrived. But AWS and Google counter-moves are likely coming. Amazon is set to host a cloud summit in New York next week. And Google Cloud Next 2018 -- a major conference -- is later this month.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.