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Microsoft Taps Service Providers for New Cloud OS Program

In a move to build a channel presence behind its emerging "Cloud OS" strategy, Microsoft on Thursday launched a consortium of about two dozen cloud service providers worldwide that can provide and support hybrid clouds for customers.

Cloud OS is Microsoft's attempt to build a unified platform for customers that allows them to move workloads and services among on-premise facilities, Microsoft public cloud services and service provider-hosted clouds. Microsoft formally launched what senior Microsoft executive Satya Nadella called its "cloud operating system era" in September 2012 with the availability of Windows Server 2012

The initial focus was on ensuring the ability to move virtualized servers within on-premise servers and private clouds, as well as with Microsoft's own cloud services, such as Windows Azure.

The new program, the Cloud OS Network, marks a maturity of Microsoft's Cloud OS platform to include service providers, as well, said Eugene Saburi, general manager of Cloud OS Marketing in Microsoft's Cloud and Enterprise Division, which is driving the new partner program.

Microsoft is working closely with about 25 service providers who will now be able to provide a "single-pane-of-glass" management experience using Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 and the Windows Azure Pack. The idea, Saburi said, is to "enable boundary-less datacenters."

Partners named to the Cloud OS Network on Thursday include Alog, Aruba S.p.A., Capgemini, Capita IT Services, CGI, CSC, Dimension Data, DorukNet, Fujitsu Finland Oy., Fujitsu Ltd., iWeb, Lenovo, NTTX, Outsourcery, OVH.com, Revera, SingTel, Sogeti, TeleComputing, Tieto, Triple C Cloud Computing, T-Systems, VTC Digilink and Wortmann AG. According to Microsoft documentation, those service providers run more than 425 datacenters, manage more than 2.4 million servers and serve more than 3 million customers worldwide.

Saburi said Microsoft will likely add more partners later.

Piers Linney, co-CEO of U.K.-based Outsourcery, said his cloud service provider company expects to benefit from participation in Microsoft's new Cloud OS Network immediately. While Outsourcery has been providing Cloud OS-based solutions to customers that included Outsourcery-hosted components, Microsoft's recent technological improvements will remove sales barriers.

"The more friction you've got in terms of moving these workloads makes it a harder sell. The friction has been reduced. The ability to drag and drop, effectively, across the three [platforms], makes it easier," Linney said.

Outsourcery executives are not expecting leads or implementation business from Microsoft through the program. Rather, they're expecting Microsoft's validation of Outsourcery's expertise will help the cloud service provider's own sales efforts.

"It's very important to us to be part of this group of Microsoft partners in the network," Linney said. "It's very important that we are seen as experts in the Cloud OS."

Posted by Scott Bekker on December 12, 2013 at 5:20 AM