Microsoft has been adding firepower to its Windows Azure cloud platform to compete against the likes of Google, Amazon and Dropbox and Box to attract enterprise users to create, host and distribute data around the world. In the latest development, it is launching the Cloud OS Network, a group of some 25 service providers and system integrators that offer services on Windows Azure. The list includes household names in the business like Capgemini, Capita IT Services, CSC, Dimension Data,, Fujitsu Ltd., Lenovo, Tieto, and T-Systems, as well as smaller players like DorukNet, Outsourcerylike VTC Digilink and Wortmann.
Microsoft says that Cloud OS covers some 90 active markets and already services over 3 million customers daily across 2.4 million servers in more than 425 datacenters.
If past efforts were about adding more functionality to Windows Azure — price drops, improved data access, better API management, improved security — today it’s about adding more credibility by way of the network effect.
Microsoft says the deal covers services in total that run on Windows Server with Hyper-V, System Center and the Windows Azure Pack, and it’s a sign of how, while Microsoft itself bidding for more business in enterprise, it’s not yet taking on managed services and integration itself in any meaningful way, looking instead to third parties to provide that bridge.
For now Microsoft is playing up the fact that this means diversity and freedom of choice for its users. “This network of leading service providers will help our customers create datacenters without boundaries for apps, data and device management,” said Takeshi Numoto, Microsoft corporate vice president of Cloud & Enterprise Marketing, said in a statement. “That translates into greater diversity of solutions, more flexibility and lower operational costs for customers, allowing them to focus on their core business rather than managing datacenters.” It also begs the question, though, of whether Microsoft at some point may choose to take more of these functions under its own control for more direct sales.
For now, it seems like Microsoft is more intent on growing the ecosystem of those who interact with Azure, in a bid for platform if not services supremacy. “By joining Microsoft in the Cloud OS Network, leading cloud service providers can quickly and cost-effectively develop new services, attract new customers and increase revenues,” Microsoft notes.