Exciting news Microsoft has stirred, and with it a subtle shift may be taking place, one that for both end users of its cloud services and its dedicated Partners could see the transformation of its Cloud Service support. Microsoft has announced it will be working with Rackspace – ‘Fanatical Support for Microsoft Azure’.
To date Microsoft has tried to boil the Azure ocean itself, and Office365. Delivering and supporting end to end its new Cloud service platforms. Oh yes partners are in there thought the slowly consolidating myriad of Stores but that is not fully engaging the hidden potential that lies in the Microsoft Partner Ecosystem. That potential resides in the breadth and depth of Real World experience on the Microsoft Cloud platforms that Microsoft Partners are gaining from their daily interactions with clients and legacy systems. No disrespect to the Microsoft support engineers at the various tiers, but as my own experience has shown when these come up against real world legacy challenges and interactions with a myriad of 3rd party technologies their lack of exposure to anything more than excellent Azure/Office365 training often shows up the weakness in the Microsoft Support structure. What then tends to unfold is an escalation over a period of days if not weeks, depending on the complexity of the issue, until either the customer (Partner sometimes) gives up and does something else or the parties resolve the issue through collaborative exchanges. The passage of time forcing the temperature of the relationship sometimes to boiling point, thus to the crux of the matter – customer (Partner) experience.
As the use of Microsoft Cloud platforms booms and customers interact with it in increasingly creative ways with untold 3rd party solutions it becomes infeasible that Microsoft can cover all these bases. It is exciting to see the start of what could be a revolution in support models, but this is not quiet Microsoft extending its support desk to integrate with its Partners.
Imagine the power of a support desk that allowed trusted and proven Partners to pick up Azure (Or any other product for that matter) support tickets and field them in real time as if they were a Microsoft Support engineer. The Partner being remunerated on a predetermined scale fee for tickets resolved within certain timeframes and to set standards. In so doing load balancing the demand on Microsoft resources AND Partner resources. Doing for Support resourcing and quality of service what Cloud is doing for infrastructure utilisation and reliability in customer organisations, flattening the resources needed to be carried for peak demand and filling the underutilised off-peak trough’s.
I do not pretend this is a simple case of opening up support tickets to all Partners. For a long time now there have been Partners Microsoft has seen as experts and leaders in certain fields of their technology. Partners Microsoft has developed a trust over time with to deliver quality within timescales and regard as a notch above the average Gold partner in their unique workloads. The former Azure Circle Partners being one such cadre, now amalgamated into the Cloud Competencies that were launched last year.
The excitement for me is that the Rackspace announcement, whilst not quiet the help desk extension model I have postulated, could be Microsoft dipping their toe in the water of this potential. There is no reason that this should not be extended so Azure support can for example leverage the niche expertise of SAP / Azure integration Partners amongst their unique use cases that Azure finds itself fulfilling.
Microsoft’s CSP (Cloud Solution Provider) program allows partners to sell their cloud services along with Partner own offerings and services. Partners can now own the complete customer lifecycle through direct billing, provisioning, management, and support. This is likely to be the model the Rackspace engagement is built on, and remains a stand-off to fully interfaced hand in glove support delivery.
I watch this space with interest, and congratulate Rackspace.