A Sketch of What Partner Business Transformation Looks Like

Lynn HaberIt was no secret at Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) 2016, held last week, that ISV partners are a hot commodity.

That’s because when it comes to cloud, the attach opportunity is not only big – $45 billion in partner-services revenue was attached to Microsoft enterprise cloud projects last year – but partner revenue goes up with attached services or IP and customers get added cloud intelligence — think value all around. Last week Microsoft also introduced its new business marketplace – AppSource – the one-stop shop to help customers find the applications they need including those that partners develop themselves.

Well, Microsoft isn’t the only vendor growing the number of ISVs in its partner ecosystem. At last month’s Oracle FY17 Partner Kickoff, the vendor launched the Oracle Cloud Platform Ready for ISVs. ISVs and cloud were the two central themes of the kickoff.

In CompTIA’s IT Industry Outlook 2016 report, the public cloud is driving partners to create their own IP, or SaaS applications, and also proprietary methodologies and processes. Industry gurus have suggested for a couple of years now that IP can fast-track partner differentiation.

Well, at WPC 16, we ran into Armor Defense Inc., a Microsoft partner that focuses on cybersecurity for Azure. In July 2015, FireHost Armor made its debut as a managed security-as-a-service offering for Microsoft Azure public cloud environments. The initial offering provides an Azure virtual machine with functions such as security monitoring, antivirus protection and threat intelligence, according to the company. It also handles patch management.

The company was intent on scouring WPC for new partners for its relaunched global partner program, announced in early June.

Attending his 5th WPC, Arthur P. Rutherford IV, alliance & strategic partnership director at Armor, said his main reason for attending this year was to build the company’s channel.

“We met with Microsoft managed service providers, system integrators, regional partners, CEOs and business-development folks and talked about how we could work together and make money together,” he told us.

Tallying dozens of meetings, Rutherford’s goal was to find synergy between Armor and partners who had some security practice – or none – but are trying to monetize a security business in Azure. And in the 27 meetings he had in the first few days of WPC – there were more to go – only one or two weren’t a fit, but the rest of the partners were going to sign up for the Armor Global Partner Program.

Cloud and mobility continue to up the ante for managed services, IP, security solutions and partners who can deliver what customers need. Armor, just one of many WPC attendees, fit the profile of the next-gen channel partner.

FireHost Armor – FireHost VM Armor Core for CentOS 6, for Ubuntu 14.04, and for Windows 2012 R2, can be found in the Azure Marketplace, Microsoft’s online store where users and partners can find thousands of certified, open source and community software applications, developer services and data preconfigured for Microsoft Azure.

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