Today I’m excited to introduce new resources to help our partners develop profitable, sustainable, and optimized cloud practices. According to IDC, greater cloud spending will exceed $500 billion by 2020, and nearly 80% of customers are deploying or fully embracing cloud technology today. IDC also estimates that investment in digital transformation initiatives will reach $2.2 trillion by 2019 (almost 60% more than last year). Customer demand and the booming cloud market presents unprecedented opportunity for our partners.
With this in mind, we conducted two research studies to better understand how top-performing partners have developed successful and profitable cloud practices. The outcome of this extensive research is four new Cloud Practice Development Playbooks that provide clear, practical, and targeted guidance to help enable our partners to create, grow, and optimize their cloud practices in a sustainable and profitable way.
“I supported the development of the Cloud Practice Development Playbooks because we need every competitive advantage to be able to quickly optimize our practice and to grow our business.”
– Dave Sasson, Chief Strategy Officer, Hanu
Four New Playbooks
Partners can now download these highly impactful practice development playbooks that focus on the “how to” of four key cloud practices:
- Cloud Infrastructure & Management
- Data Platform & Analytics
- Cloud Application Development
- Enterprise Mobility & Security
Each playbook contains insight from the research studies, business oriented best practices and case studies from top-performing partners, and an overview of additional resources partners can leverage across the practice development process. Practical information includes:
- Industry data to help define your solution offer and maximize your profitability, including details on the project services, managed services, and packaged IP other partners are integrating into their solutions and what they charge.
For example, the Microsoft Cloud Practice Development Study states that “Most new cloud practices (64%) require less than 1 year to achieve profitability.” Also, “20% of overall revenue is driven by cloud-based products and services; research participants anticipate that proportion will more than double in the next two years, to 47%.”
- Details on what roles you need to launch your practice, along with job descriptions, compensation information, and insights into how to find talent in the market and how to keep your team up to speed on the latest technology.
For example, the Microsoft Cloud Practice Development Study found that “Roles associated with cloud practices typically have at least 3 years’ experience. Furthermore, most companies engage in at least annual ongoing staff learning efforts like conferences, events and online training. A median of 8.5% of technical resources time is spent on training.”
- Best practices in developing and executing proofs of concept and architectural design sessions.
For example, the Cloud Application Development Playbook recommends that, ”The acceptance criteria for a proof of concept should be chosen early. Short but, clearly defined, milestones should lead the way to a successful proof of concept. Start small by identifying the minimum problem you are trying to solve and focus on it.”
- Resources that Microsoft provides across the practice development process, including training, incentives, business investment funds, support, Azure pricing calculators, and more.
For example, the Enterprise Mobility and Security Playbook suggests that ”Whether you’re new to Azure or already a cloud professional, training is one of the best investments you can make in your career. Azure Skills provides a free online training option and great deals on certification, including significant discounts for Microsoft Exam vouchers for Azure certifications.”
Sharing Expertise & Lessons Learned
These playbooks are designed for partners building new practices, or developing existing practices, and are appropriate for all roles that support your practice, including leadership, sales, marketing, support, and technical teams.
To understand best practices for developing cloud practices, from both a business and technical perspective we held in-depth interviews with 50 partners with established cloud practices for the first study. For the second study, we conducted a comprehensive survey of 1,100 Microsoft Azure partners with active cloud practices worldwide to gather insights on a range of topics including what services each practice offered, hiring, compensation, and training practices. We also gathered information on what skillsets they have in place to support their offers, as well as the time it took them to become profitable.
“Digital Transformation is a top priority for our customers. We were excited to support the development of the Cloud Practice Playbooks! They will be a great tool for our practice as we lead our customers through their cloud journey.”
– Joe Crabtree, Cloud Platform Practice Director, Perficient
These playbooks add to the body of work released last year, including the Azure Managed Services Playbook for Partners in the CSP program (which received over 30,000 downloads in less than a month) and the Modern Partner ebook series launched with IDC, from which partners have seen tangible and valuable impact on their respective businesses.
I hope you find these new playbooks to be useful in defining and optimizing your cloud business. Please feel free to reach out with your questions and feedback in the comments below!
How do you plan to build your cloud practice in the coming year? Share your thoughts in the comments below.