Bits & Bytes

The BitTitan Blog for Service Providers

Howard M Cohen

Blue Gold: The Azure Gold Rush and How to Cash In

This is the first installment of a new series on the BitTitan blog, “The Complete MSP,” built to help IT professionals stay ahead of the Azure curve and accelerate the evolution of your customers’ solutions. Click here to view all posts in this series – and stay tuned for more content to help you build a repeatable and scalable Azure practice.


The sky truly is the limit.


According to Quora, “In the Middle Ages, azure was another name for lapis lazuli, the gemstone used to make the brilliant pigment seen in the sky of much medieval art. Someone at Microsoft probably mixed blue sky with clouds and… there you are.”

Whether or not they are correct, Microsoft Azure truly is a “blue sky” opportunity for Solution Provider partners. Consider this new series, “The Complete MSP”, your “red-alert” to the greatest “greenfield” opportunity in the history of the IT channel. This is your opportunity to “strike gold” by becoming a fully complete Managed Service Provider (MSP) for every customer, whether they are still deployed on their own premises, a hybrid of on-prem, public and private cloud, or fully transitioned to having all IT operations supplied as cloud computing services. So where does this rainbow of colors lead?

The End of the Age of Infrastructure Launches the Solutions Gold Rush

When he first became Microsoft’s Worldwide Channel Chief, Phil Sorgen advised partners that, “Our one job at Microsoft is to provide a platform that partners can be successful selling their solutions on.” The platform Sorgen was referring to as Microsoft’s “one job” is, of course, Microsoft Azure. But what were the “solutions” he mentioned?

That was the year that Microsoft, for the very first time, introduced the “cloud” version of a product, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, before the on-prem version. Then CRM product manager Bill Patterson, when asked about “solutions” predicted that we would soon witness “an evolution of solution,” explaining that when “Solution Providers” are asked to define “solution” they usually talk about infrastructure. They add more infrastructure. Patterson held that customers would not tolerate this much longer and that soon all “solutions” would have to be business-relevant, solving business challenges that customers were confronted with.

They were both right.

Show Me the Money

Today, Solution Providers make their money providing their own intellectual property (IP), services and products they have developed themselves for repeated resale to many different customers. This IP may consist of software applications, but more often it comes in the form of best practices, scripts, useful segments of code, and other tools all meant to help effectively manage an IT environment. This is especially important in the Azure environment, where effective management makes the difference between an adequate deployment and a brilliant one.

If you think that the monthly recurring revenue (MRR) coming from the actual Azure subscription and consumption of Azure services is the primary generator of income, think again.


Every Azure service comes in the form of a virtual machine (VM), which appears as a server to users and operators, complete with scalable processors, memory, storage, and the software needed to run it. The operating system running on that VM, the workloads and applications, the network connection to it, the security provisions, the data backup, redundancy, and literally everything else about that server must be designed and deployed before it can ever be managed. Each of those steps creates substantial revenue for Microsoft Azure partners, and then you get to the MRR from ongoing services and support.

That’s where the rainbow leads. That’s where the real money is – up front, during, and after the subscription sale. That’s why there’s such a gold rush to the blue skies of Azure.


The Complete Azure MSP

Many customers ask how they’re going to manage their IT environment once they move to Azure. The answer should be you.

Once their data center is shuttered, the customer’s dynamics change. It’s harder to justify a large staff to manage something that’s no longer there. In fact, it becomes easy to demonstrate that Azure is more cost-effectively managed by an expert external partner than by expensive headcount. Beyond simply keeping Azure operating, you have the opportunity to accelerate their innovation, move them up the IT maturity model faster, and dramatically increase their bottom line.

This is why we’re introducing The Complete MSP, to help keep you ahead of the curve on the latest advancements in Azure management techniques, tools, and best practices. To focus your attention on the latest new developments coming from Microsoft on the Azure platform, and to help you hasten the evolution of your customers’ solutions.

Please contribute your comments and questions below to expand the discussion. Your real-world, front-line experience is the most valuable perspective of all.

Images: iStock, Build Azure

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