Microsoft announces Azure Stack general availability from Dell EMC, HPE and Lenovo

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Microsoft announces Azure Stack general availability from Dell EMC, HPE and Lenovo
Ron Huddleston, Microsoft

Microsoft has announced the launch of general availability of its Azure Stack through Dell EMC, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Lenovo.

Azure Stack is an extension of Microsoft's public cloud platform that brings the interface and functionality of Azure to on-premises environments.

Microsoft released its software to these and other vendors in the past, who built the Azure system into their own on-premises infrastructure to enable hybrid cloud solutions.

Cisco and Huawei hardware is also in the pipeline, with Cisco solutions set to be available by the end of the year and Huawei expected to launch in the first quarter of 2018.

Pricing for Azure Stack is available in a pay-as-you-use model, similar to Azure pricing, and is available through Enterprise Agreements and the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program.

For deployments that are not always connected to Azure, Microsoft is offering disconnected mode pricing in a capacity model for a fixed annual subscription fee based on the number of physical cores in a system.

The first systems are available to order now and will ship in September.

The announcement came as Microsoft kicked off its 2017 Inspire partner conference in Washington DC, where Satya Nadella and other executives took the stage to welcome partners from 140 countries.

Among the first-day announcements, Microsoft One Commercial Partner corporate vice president Ron Huddleston also discussed co-sell opportunities for partners, noting a $250 million investment in Azure co-selling initiatives.

The company said it would build on the momentum of its Azure co-sell program launched in 2016 with the creation of a dedicated channel manager role that will be 100 percent focused on supporting partners' go-to-market strategy.

Microsoft has been incentivising its sales around Azure through an agreement that sees its reps paid up to 10 percent of a partner’s annual contract value when they co-sell qualified Azure-based partner solutions.  

Microsoft also hopes to make partners' lives easier as they transform modern business applications with a newly announced program called ISV Cloud Embed. The program will allow partners to buy core Dynamics 365, Power BI, Power Apps and Microsoft Flow Capabilities “as embeddable building blocks at discounts of up to 50 percent”.

“In the same way that partners today build their apps on Microsoft Azure, they can now also use our business applications platform to easily add sales automation, service line and operational backend functionality to their own apps," the company said.

"This helps lower development overhead and costs by putting our engineering resources to work for them.”

Amid a global restructure to its sales teams to focus on Azure cloud sales, Microsoft sought to reinforce its commitment to partners and its reliance on them with admissions that through more than 17 million people employed by partners around the world, it estimates Microsoft and its partner ecosystem overall will generate almost a trillion dollars in revenue in 2017.

“For more than 40 years, we have been a partner-led company, which reflects the fact that we generate more than 95 percent of our business through our robust and constantly evolving partner ecosystem. Today, Microsoft has more than 64,000 cloud partners — more than AWS, Google and Salesforce combined,” the company said.

The journalist travelled to Inspire as a guest of Microsoft.

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