Canalys Channels Forum: Office 365 leads Microsoft Cloud push

Partners must utilise the “low hanging fruit” of Office 365, in what Microsoft believes is a sure fire way of introducing on the fence customers to the cloud.

Partners must utilise the “low hanging fruit” of Office 365, in what Microsoft believes is a sure fire way of introducing on the fence customers to the cloud.

As Redmond continues to embrace its new mobile first, cloud first approach to the market, the company aims to further establish itself within the cloud, fuelled by the appeal of its suite of Office applications.

“More new customers are coming from the cloud,” says Thomas Hansen, Vice President Worldwide SMB, Microsoft, when speaking at the Canalys Channels Forum in Shanghai today.

“We’ve been incredibly successful, through the help of our partners, in servicing customers across the Asia-Pacific region with our solutions and services.

“And we believe Office 365 is leading the way, it’s engaging customers and is proving to be the easiest way to get customers going within the cloud.”

Echoing comments by CEO Satya Nadella, who continues to drive Microsoft’s channel partners to the cloud, Hansen says Office 365 is proving to be the “perfect entry point” for customers looking to transform entire business models.

“Office 365 is being commoditised,” he adds. “It’s being accepted in a broad way by customers, they are no longer questioning it so in terms of partners going out trying to win new business, Office 365 is the lever Microsoft recommends you all consider.”

While Microsoft’s business strategy is clear for the partner community to see, as the technology industry evolves, the market has once again reached as “inflection point.”

“Microsoft is the productive and platform company for the mobile first, cloud first world,” adds Hansen, reiterating Nadella’s well-documented vision. “We will reinvent productivity to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to do more and achieve more.”

Read more: Microsoft's Office for iPad carrot fails to boost consumer revenue

Working with partners for over 30 years, Hansen says Microsoft remains “partner led today, and partner led tomorrow.”

“This company was built on enabling broad ecosystems and broad partner opportunities,” he adds. “Of the traditional ways of making money, such as through transactional models and project based services, we believe the value lies in adopting the managed services model, and within applications and IPs.”

But according to Hansen, further value for partners lies in Microsoft’s beliefs around choice; “We do not believe in the tyranny of only one choice,” he explains.

“We believe as a cloud company that cloud is the solution but today we live in a world were over 100 million companies run operations in mixed environments, whether that be through public, hybrid or private clouds, or even still on-premise.”

Read more: Microsoft looks to find its way in mobile app market

Microsoft has a rich software background, and while the company continues to lead the conversation with its cloud message, Hansen insists Redmond wants to ensure those customers not currently ‘cloud-ready’ can move at their own pace, through hybrid cloud solutions.

Change takes time…

“Change takes time,” adds Hansen, who insists such change requires strong leadership which “doesn’t happen overnight.”

For Hansen believes the notion of cloud is no longer a dream, it’s “real, very real.” So much so that Microsoft is now selling more sets of cloud Office solutions than on-premise.

“Office is arguably one of the most successful franchises in the history of this industry,” he claims. “Now the cloud solution is growing and together, with our partners, the change has arrived.

“Our move to the cloud is now translating into real numbers, real business and real profitability.”

But for Hansen, boasting 13 years of Redmond experience, this is just the start.

“Literally speaking this is a sprint,” he adds. “It’s a sprint to a mobile first, cloud first world. We continue to experience triple digit growth in our cloud revenue business, representing growth of 145% year-on-year.”

In praising the work of Microsoft’s APAC partners across the region, in closing his keynote, Hansen’s final segment of advice was simple.

“Use the solutions that you want to service your customers with,” says Hansen, believing this to be the number one call to action for Microsoft partners.

“If you’re a Microsoft partner, we advise you to take advantage of our free software rights on offers and test the environment you’re selling.”

Because in the words of Hansen, towing the corporate line in Shanghai, “once you understand what you’re selling you’ll be far more effective.”

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