Microsoft Incentives Target Cloud Opportunities

Recognizing the opportunities for solution providers in the cloud computing space, Microsoft this week unveiled a slew of cash incentives and marketing funds aimed squarely at making the cloud an easier sell.

Fresh on the heels of its announcement last week laying out its plans in the cloud computing space, the software giant this week outlined how solution providers can partner with Microsoft to build and manage solutions within the cloud. As part of that effort, Microsoft unveiled, a cloud-centric website for partners featuring marketing materials such as plans and templates, call scripts and other customizable collateral. In addition, the site features an RFP template, business plan building tools and migration tools, as well as tips on delivering in cloud environments.

But the cash incentives are where Microsoft is putting its faith in solution providers. The company plans to match marketing funds, up to $1,000, to help demand generation for Microsoft’s Business Productivity Online Services, its software as a service suite that includes Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Office Live Meeting and Office Communications Online. And through the end of June, Microsoft plans to match partner investment, up to $1,000, in the Online Services Ready-to-Go Marketing program.

The incentives are on top of the $500 partners can earn for each new customer win of up to 25 seats with services and migrations to BPOS or standalone products, excluding Office Live Meeting. Additionally, partners that sign 10 25-seat-or-larger customers can earn an additional $5,000.

The idea behind the incentives is to bring partners up to speed on Microsoft’s solutions in the cloud computing space, which the company said will incorporate 90 percent of its developers in some way over the next year.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer detailed the company’s plans in the cloud computing space during a speech last week at the University of Washington, calling it a technology that “literally I will tell you we’re betting our company on.

“The cloud is changing the way we think about server hardware and software,” Ballmer said. And such a change also requires a shift in solution provider priorities, including more emphasis on smart devices and pushing more applications into the cloud.

“That’s not to say that we won’t continue working on browsers and standards, but in the cloud, the devices you use matter,” Ballmer said.

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