Cloud-first Microsoft targets triple APAC partner growth

As the region’s cloud market surges towards the US$8.6 billion mark, Microsoft Asia Pacific intends to replicate similar growth in its cloud reseller market.

With 23,000 registered partners in the Microsoft Partner Network and over 60,000 resellers, the tech giant is positioning itself for further growth in its cloud partner community.

Rising from 2,000 cloud resellers to 14,000 over the past two years, the Microsoft Asia Pacific cloud division business is accelerating at 4.2 times the market growth – with APAC VP Alvaro Celis acknowledging the need to expand.

“We have a huge channel base in the region and the opportunity is definitely there,” says Celis, speaking to Techday at WPC 2014.

“Our cloud services are growing 4.2 times the market and because of this the amount of channel capacity we need is in the same range.”

Year-on-year, Microsoft APAC has experienced triple digit growth for its cloud business, the most recent being 146%, which is a trend Celis expects to continue during 2014 and beyond.

“We’re expecting triple digit growth again for sure,” adds Celis, a 22-year Microsoft veteran based in Singapore.

“If you look at APAC in particular and the mega trends of Cloud, Social, Mobility and Big Data, the opportunity is huge.”

Microsoft estimates based on analysing various market data, the APAC mega trends look like this:

• Cloud – $8.8 billion by 2015

• Mobility – $68 billion by 2017

• Big Data – $1.76 billion by 2016

• Social (includes collaboration) – $3.1 billion by 2015

“In terms of winning the share in the cloud market, it’s a difficult question to answer,” adds Celis, referring to the varying markets which Microsoft competes in across the continent.

“Where we play we are growing 4.2 times the speed of that market, there is no question about it but obviously, we don’t play everywhere.”

That said, Microsoft has gained share in almost every business, standing tall as the leaders in virtualisation by share in New Zealand and Korea, while Celis claims Dynamics CRM is also growing faster than the competition.

With over 640 partners descending on Washington D.C. this year, the largest ever APAC attendance, Celis acknowledges that such a growing partner base requires responsibility, especially during a time of great transition for the company.

In heading up Microsoft’s APAC plans for a cloud-first, mobile-first world, Celis will no doubt be faced with some unwelcome decisions in the coming months, such as offering input in how best to trim the global staff count by 18,000 workers.

An unfortunate consequence of change of course, but with 95% of the company’s business through its partners, Microsoft is looking for the perfect cloud equation.

“We’re fully committed to the cloud but specifically about transforming in a way which creates more opportunities for our partners,” he adds. “We want to create the scenario were 1 + 1 = 3, representing a win for our customers, a win for our partners and a win for the company.”

Chasing two types of customers, the born in the cloud next generation of partners and the old-timers keeping up with change, Celis, like every other Microsoft executive in Washington D.C. last week is absolutely clear – Microsoft are in the cloud, they just desperately want partners to come along for the ride.

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