New Microsoft CEO must focus on partners, too

New Microsoft CEO must focus on partners, too

Summary: After the announcement that Satya Nadella is the new CEO of Microsoft, the discussion appeared to focus on what changes to its technology must be done. Partners need to be considered too.


The industry is buzzing with comments and opinions about Satya Nadella taking the helm at Microsoft. Most of the comments seem focused on what the company should or should not do with its technology. What seems to be missing is what Microsoft should do to empower its ecosystem, not just what it should do itself.

What should Microsoft do for Service Providers?

There are a few who are commenting about the partner ecosystem. Charles Weaver, for example, presented his views on what Microsoft must do to help managed service providers (MPS) and cloud service providers. His post "New Microsoft CEO could mean good news for Managed Service Providers" over at the International Association of Cloud and Managed Services Providers offered some well thought out comments. He presented a number of things that Microsoft has done wrong to support the service providers that are worth reading. He summed up his thoughts by saying:

In my humble opinion, there is one question which needs to be addressed by Nadella: What is Microsoft’s private cloud strategy? Just take a look at companies like IBM and you can see where they believe the MSP and cloud providers should be heading. Microsoft cannot just rely on Office365 to survive. MSP (i.e., the entire IT channel) need to be re-engaged. The channel used to be responsible for selling a lot of Microsoft products. Those days could return, depending on what Mr. Nadella decides in the next few months.

Let's take a broader view

If we step back a bit and consider Microsoft's history, one of the company's strengths has always been its ability to build a vibrant ecosystem. Microsoft relied upon its partners to bring its products into new markets, add features that Microsoft hadn't even thought of and provide a whole range of integration, implementation and ongoing support features.

Over time, however, Microsoft appears to have decided that it wanted the whole pie rather than working with the belief that partners helped bake the pie and should be given a reasonable slice of revenues and profits so they could continue helping Microsoft grow. This decision has created quite a few problems for partners.

Microsoft needs to go back to its roots and make sure that partners have access to code, APIs and beta software early enough so that they can add their very necessary value.  Microsoft appears to have forgotten that requirement in a few of their recent product launches. What happened? Partners were brought to the party late, had no time to add their value and Microsoft's products didn't sell as well as they could.

Large enterprises, a very important part of Microsoft's ecosystem, have been told that they simply can't have access to Microsoft's cloud services for them to build their own on-premise clouds. Companies wanting to build their own on-premise clouds had to turn to Cloud Stack, OpenStack or Eucalyptus.

Products that supported partners addressing the needs of the midmarket, such as the Windows Small Business Server, are often brought to market with strange limitations and no clear growth path so that customers could easily and economically move on to the next Microsoft product.

I'm reminded of something Alice Roosevelt Longworth said about her father which could also apply to Microsoft. She said, "My father always wanted to be the corpse at every funeral, the bride at every wedding, and the baby at every christening.” Microsoft needs to go back to its roots and consider how it will help its partners succeed. That will contribute to Microsoft's own success.

Topics: Steve Ballmer: The Exit Interview, CXO, Cloud, Microsoft


Daniel Kusnetzky, a reformed software engineer and product manager, founded Kusnetzky Group LLC in 2006. He's literally written the book on virtualization and often comments on cloud computing, mobility and systems software. In his spare time, he's also the managing partner of Lux Sonus LLC, an investment firm.

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  • Nadella is CEO

    They promoted the cloud guy. The days of the middleman is over. I'm sure they're still selling Windows and Windows Server for a long, long time, but just look at the pricing on Office 365 - cloud licenses were cheaper.
    • Yes, but...

      I could put everything I have in the cloud, right now. I could visualize all my PC's too. However, there is something about "owning" the device and keeping the data local that many people enjoy. I can't explain it, but the will always be a desire to "own it". Cloud feels like your "leasing".
      Sean Foley
      • "I can't explain it"

        I can. It's not just "owning" your data. Local data is faster, more reliable, more secure, always available, likely cheaper, etc.

        The cloud offers a few conveniences, but has huge downsides. Services DO go down. If even Google can't prevent the occasional outages, no one can. Even if the provider is up, your internet connection can go down.

        The Cloud introduces a number of additional failure points, and in a lot of cases, it's only realistic with small amounts of data. I regularly work on files that can exceed 2, 3 and sometimes 4 gigs, and most people or even companies don't have internet connections that would make working on files of this size even remotely realistic. Heck, even files of a few hundred megs are unrealistic.

        I'm fine with some e-mail living in the cloud, but not my day to day, bread and butter work files.
  • Things to fix ASAP

    1.New version of SBS, as expensive bandwidth in UK, NZ, AUS and the NSA ruling out trusting MS cloud products for the next 5 years

    2.A private cloud sub that includes (0S, Office standard , CORE cal ) with the ability to run on a virtual platform for max ammount of £10 a month per user. as its a sub it would have SA built in and should be for that user to access they virtual PC from any device anywhere

    3.Do not try and do an Adode with CC as it would backfire bigtime , as people have not got over the Windows 8 issues yet.
  • All he really needs to do

    is pull his head out of Ballmers rear.

    1. Stop changing the names of basic functions and moving the commands.
    2. Stop getting between us and our data. I don't need a "virtual token" representing the folder I put my data in, it's right there...where I put it :)
    3. Stop removing simple menus to go graphically with huge icons that take up WAY too much of my 27" monitor. I didn't buy it for you!
    4. Use the better tools, not yours.
    5. You don't own MY desktop, stop trying to act like you do.
  • "Partners" remember what happened...

    to Word Perfect when the developers trusted Microsofts statements...

    And were stabbed in the back when the API was yanked out from under them.

    Why should they trust Microsoft now?

    Trust can be lost very quickly. It will take years to rebuild trust.
    • Well, then it's a good thing those years have long since passed

      where MS has once again regained their trust.

      Though trust is a funny thing, (you're right) in that MS didn't stab it's OEM partners in the back (as Apple just recently did to many, so those 'partners' will likely never trust Apple again), so the OEM's never had a trust issue.

      So not seeing any issue here. Well, at least for MS and their partners.

      This isn't like we're talking about Apple or Google and their partners. Well, yeah if we were then that's a different thing, and it will be years before they're trusted again.
  • He needs to fix the SPLA

    The problem all MSP's and cloud providers face is the SPLA. Microsoft seem to do their utmost to screw their service provider partners at every single opportunity, either pricing their own services below the cost of the equivalent SPLA SKU, or changing the terms of product usage or pricing to destroy business models. SPLA is a second rate citizen, it needs to be the focus is Microsoft want people to continue using their products.