Microsoft has revealed details of the investments and initiatives it has introduced to encourage partners to embrace the cloud.
Over the past few days, the vendor has used its Worldwide Partner Conference in Los Angeles to update partners on its private and public cloud strategy.
At the event's opening keynote, Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer said: "[One] thing that has happened over the past 12 months is that we have really stitched together a coherent private and public cloud story.
"Having a strategy that spans the public and private [cloud] is a unique strength for Microsoft as we look at [our] competitors VMware, Oracle, Google [and] Amazon," he added.
As part of this, Microsoft confirmed that new versions of its private cloud-enabling Windows Server and System Centre tools are in the pipeline, with a beta version of the latter set to go live next week.
Meanwhile, it was also announced that partners can now sell their own software-as-a-service-based applications through its public cloud platform, Windows Azure.
Speaking to ChannelWeb, Robert Wahbe, corporate vice president of Microsoft's server and tools marketing group, said as well as new products, the vendor has been supporting its partners on their journey to the cloud in other ways.
"We have been trying to get a very consistent set of programmes in terms of advertising, demand generation and sales activation investments across all three areas [including the public cloud, private cloud and database]," he explained.
These include the Partner Sale Plan and Activation Kit, which provides partners with technical, marketing and business enablement support, and the Deployment Planning Services programme.
"[The latter] is basically a voucher we give to customers that have software assurance, which they can then use with partners to deploy Windows Azure, SQL Servers and Systems Centre products."
The vendor also has another programme, which 500 partners have used so far to speed up their private cloud deployments, called Hyper-V Accelerate.
"What is exciting about that is that it wraps the Partner Sale Plan and Activation Kit with an additional set of service lines that our own consulting arm built to do proof of concepts for private clouds," said Wahbe.
"We then made that partner ready to allow them to go to their customers and get them excited about the products, so they can set up proof of concept in a matter of days."
Roger Wood, head of Microsoft technologies at Microsoft Gold Partner Charteris, said the vendor's decision to back both the private and public cloud is a smart one.
"For a lot of customers, it makes sense to put something in the cloud, whether that be public or private, but to retain other things on-premise," he said. "That seems to be more of a sensible approach for a vendor to take than saying there is only one way of doing things."
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