The Changing Channel

For I Have Seen the Future, and Its Name Is DevOps

As cloud pushes the channel to evolve, Microsoft solution providers must proactively seek to partner with other ISVs to target that DevOps sweet spot.

  • Complete Microsoft Inspire 2017 coverage here.

Since the introduction of the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN), I have been forewarning that the day of the infrastructure integrator is almost done.

Yes, "the cloud" has always been the culprit. Not just Microsoft's cloud, but Amazon's, IBM's, Google's, and a lot of other clouds, as well. They're all out there vying to be everyone's infrastructure, so your chances of selling servers, storage and other things that go bump in the datacenter get smaller every year.

I've frequently posed the question: Where do solution providers go from here? We've clearly seen why Microsoft has long been prescribing a "business model transformation." And to its credit, it has made credible efforts at trying to help come up with answers. For example, last year it introduced the Microsoft Professional Degree (MPD) program.

OK, granted that it was neither professional nor did it convey a degree, but its first focus on data science was right on target. That new multi-disciplinary skillset will indeed provide great opportunity for channel partners.

Let's Face the Facts
The reason I say that the name of our channel's future is DevOps is because it is very likely that solution providers will either attempt to transition to a business that develops applications or data integrations or datasets, or establish themselves as experts at operating applications running on cloud infrastructure.

More recently, some have expanded this a bit to say "DevSecOps," which acknowledges that security will always be important no matter what else we're doing.

In my column, The Changing Channel, we reported on many software developers who provide platforms on which applications can be developed without coding, using a graphical interface. That may easily drive some success for morphing partners.

Get Inspired at Inspire
One of the questions I hear more and more often is, "Why should I go to the Worldwide Partner Conference?"

This year, I have a new response for those at Inspire, the new name for Microsoft's annual partner conference. I strongly suggest that all solution providers spend plenty of time at the Expo (has that been renamed again, too?) and gather as much information as you can about as many software products and platforms as you can.

Your future may lie in partnering very proactively with one or more of the ISVs that attend Inspire.

Although it also appears to be the name of the regular newsletter of al-Qaida, I'm glad Microsoft chose to name the conference Inspire. There's a rough road ahead, and every solution provider will definitely need plenty of inspiration to keep them focused on the prize.

I'm always open to discuss the state of the channel and the Microsoft partner ecosystem.┬áReach me at [email protected].

More Columns by Howard M. Cohen:

About the Author

Technologist, creator of compelling content, and senior "resultant" Howard M. Cohen has been in the information technology industry for more than four decades. He has held senior executive positions in many of the top channel partner organizations and he currently writes for and about IT and the IT channel.