Diversification? Microsoft’s Cloud OS Partner Network mutates to an "OpenStack Community"

At first sight the announcement of the new Microsoft Cloud OS Partner Network sounds indeed interesting. Who doesn’t want to use the Microsoft public cloud directly, as of now can select from one of several partner to access the Microsoft technologies indirectly. It is also possible to span a hybrid cloud between the Microsoft cloud and the partner clouds or the own data center. For Microsoft and its technological extension within the cloud it is indeed a clever move. But for the so-called „Cloud OS Partner Network“ this activity could backfire.

Microsoft Cloud OS Partner Network

The Cloud OS Partner Network consists of more than 25 cloud service provider worldwide, which, according to Microsoft, focuses especially on hybrid cloud scenarios based on Microsoft’s cloud platform. For this purpose, they rely on a combination of the Windows Server with Hyper-V, System Center and the Windows Azure Pack. With that, Microsoft tries to underwrite its vision to establish its Cloud OS as a basis for customer data center, service provider clouds and the Microsoft public cloud.

For this reason, the Cloud OS Partner Network serves more than 90 different markets with a total customer base of three million companies worldwide. Overall 2.4 million server and more than 425 data center build the technological base.

Among others the partner network includes provider like T-Systems, Fujitsu, Dimension Data, CSC and Capgemini.

Advantages for Microsoft and the customer: Locality and extension

For Microsoft, the Cloud OS Partner Network is a clever move to, measured by the distribution of Microsoft cloud technologies, gains more worldwide market share. In addition, it fits perfectly into Microsoft’s proven strategy to serve the customer not directly but over a network of partner.

The partner network also comes towards the customer. Companies who avoided the Microsoft public cloud (Windows Azure), due to data locality reasons or local policies like data privacy, are now able to find a provider in their own country and do not have to dispense with the desired technologies. For Microsoft, another advantage is the fact, not coercively to build a data center in each country, but to concentrate on the existing or the strategically important once.

With that, Microsoft can lean back a little and let again make a partner network do the uncomfortable sales. The incomes come, as before the age of the cloud, over selling licenses to the partner.

Downside for the partner: Diversification

You can find great stories about this partner network. But the fact is, with the Cloud OS Partner Network, Microsoft creates a similar competitive situation you can find in the OpenStack Community. Especially in the public cloud, with Rackspace and HP, there exist just two „top provider“, who only play a minor part in the worldwide cloud circus. Notably HP fights more with itself and is therefore not able to concentrate on innovations. However, the main problem of both and all the other providers is that they are not able to differentiate from each other. Instead, most of the providers stand in a direct competition to each other and currently not diverge significantly. This is due to the fact, that all set on the same technological base. An analysis on the current situation of the OpenStack community can be found under “Caught in a gilded cage. OpenStack provider are trapped.

The situation for the Cloud OS Partner Network is even more uncomfortable. Unlike in OpenStack, Microsoft is the only technology supplier and decides where it is going on. The partner network need to swallow what is set before them and just can adapt further technology stacks which lead to more overhead and thus further cost for development and operations.

Except for the local markets, all Cloud OS service provider are in a direct competition and based solely on Microsoft technologies are not able to differentiate otherwise. Good support and professional services are extremely important and an advantage but no USP in the cloud.

If the Cloud OS Partner Network flops, Microsoft will get away with a black eye. The great harm the partners will carry home.

Technology as a competitive advantage

Looking at the real successful cloud provider on the market it becomes clear that those who have developed their clouds based on an own technology stack and therefore differentiate technological from the rest. These are Amazon, Google or Microsoft and precisely not Rackspace or HP who both set on OpenStack.

This, Cloud OS partner like Dimension Data, CSC or Capgemini should keep in mind. In particular CSC and Dimension Data have big claims to have a say in the cloud.


Hosted Private Platform-as-a-Service: Chances and opportunities for ISVs and enterprises

While platform-as-a-service (PaaS) has repeatedly predicted a rosy future, the service model not really gains momentum. During conversations you find out, that PaaS is likely be used for prototyping. But when it comes to production environments it is switched to infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offerings. The main reason for this is the level of control. This is the main selection criterion for respectively against a PaaS. IaaS just offers more opportunities to influence the virtual infrastructure, software, and services. In contrast using a PaaS you have to develop against a standardized API, which offers not a lot liberty. Especially for ISVs (Independent Software Vendor) and enterprises a PaaS offers some capabilities to comfortable serve developers with resources. Who has no trust in a public PaaS can also access so-called Hosted Private PaaS.


Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) is the middle layer of the cloud computing service model and goes one step further as infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS). A PaaS is responsible to provide a transparent development environment. Here the provider serves a platform on which web-applications can be developed, tested and hosted. Afterwards the applications are running on the infrastructure of the provider using its resources. Thereby the complete lifecycle of an application can be managed. The services on the provider’s platform are accessed using its APIs. The benefits, especially for small companies, exist to reduce the development infrastructure to a minimum. They only need a computer, a web browser, maybe a local IDE, a data connection and their knowledge to develop the application. The rest is part of the provider who is responsible for the infrastructure (OS, webserver, runtime environments, etc.).

Platform as a Service
Source: Cloud Computing mit der Microsoft Plattform, Microsoft Press PreView 1-2009

Hosted Private Platform-as-a-Service

Hosted Private Platform-as-a-Services (Hosted PaaS) converts PaaS into a dedicated and by a provider-managed alternative. It is especially attractive to enterprises that try to avoid the public approach (shared infrastructure, multi-tenancy) but do not own the resources and knowledge to provide their developers a true PaaS within the own infrastructure. In this case, they can access provider who offer them an exclusive PaaS in a reserved environment. The advantage is that the customer can use the hosted private PaaS exactly as a public PaaS but within a non-shared infrastructure, which is located in the data center of the provider.

Another advantage of a hosted PaaS is the professional services the vendor directly includes to help its customers migrating the application onto the PaaS or develop them from scratch. The concept is comparable to the managed clouds respectively business clouds in the IaaS area. ( This is interesting for enterprises as well as ISVs, who until now, has not much or no experiences developing cloud applications or do not trust public cloud offerings like Amazon Elastic Beanstalk, Microsoft Windows Azure, Heroku or

A sign that public PaaS in Germany is not gaining momentum, is the fact that Germany’s very first PaaS provider cloudControl encapsulated its public PaaS into the Application Lifecycle Engine to offer it as a private PaaS for enterprises and webhoster (white label) to empower them running a PaaS in a self-managed infrastructure. In addition it’s possible to span a bridge to a hybrid PaaS.

The managed IaaS provider Pironet NDH is the first German provider who has jumped on the hosted private PaaS train. The company from cologne tries to offer ISVs and SaaS provider a platform including professional services to let them provide their web applications from a German data center. Besides .NET, PHP, Java, Perl, Python, Ruby, node.js or Go, Pironet NDH offers a complete Windows Azure PaaS support, which is known from Microsoft’s Windows Azure public cloud. With that, Azure developed applications can also be operated within the German Pironet NDH data center. Both PaaS offerings are building separately. The polyglot PaaS (multi-language) based on a RedHat OpenShift implementation. The Azure PaaS based on the Windows Azure Pack. Even if Pironet NDH mostly focus on one on one business relationships, they also start a public PaaS alternative in Q1/Q2 2014, but which are just market secondary.

In particular at traditional ISVs, Pironet NDH and its offering to preach to the choir. In the future its customers will more and more ask for web applications, which will become a big challenge for one or the other ISV. Amount other things, these will profit from professional services to deliver existing and new applications faster to the market.

Public cloud provider need to react

The „hosted private“ trend comes from the IaaS area, where currently also Hosted Private Clouds have a high momentum for managed respectively business clouds. This for a good reason. Especially the data privacy topic pushes ISVs and enterprises into the arms of provider with dedicated solutions. In addition, customers are willing to pay more for higher security, data control and consulting.

Public cloud provider needs to react to face customer requirements. With Salesforce, the first big public cloud player drops its pants down. First, a quote by Joachim Schreiner, Managing Director, Salesforce Germany: “Private clouds are no clouds. This is nothing else like an application service provider contract, which already had been closed in the year 2000, when the necessary bandwidth had been available.” Apparently, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff sees this quite different. Eventually, the cash till keeps ringing when the customers are satisfied. For this, Salesforce introduced its „Salesforce Superpod“ during the Dreamforce 2013. This is a dedicated cloud based on HPs Converged Infrastructure. Thus, in principle nothing else like a hosted private cloud.

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Application Lifecycle Engine: cloudControl launched Private Platform-as-a-Service

Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) provider cloudControl has published its Application Lifecycle Engine, a private PaaS based on the technologies of its public PaaS. With it the Berlin based company wants to give companies the ability to operate a self-managed PaaS in the own data center in order to get more control over the location of the data and to control access to the relevant data.

cloudControl Application Lifecycle Engine

The cloudControl Application Lifecycle Engine technology derived from its own public PaaS offering which serves since 2009 as the foundation for the cloud service.

The Application Lifecycle Engine is to be understood as a middleware between the basic infrastructure and the actual applications (PaaS concept) and provides a complete runtime environment for applications. It offers developers the opportunity to focus on developing their application and not to be uncomfortable with processes and the deployment.

The published Application Lifecycle Engine is designed to enable large companies their own private PaaS to operate in a self-managed infrastructure in order to get the benefits of the cloud in their own four walls. The platform sets on open standards and promises to avoid vendor lock-in. cloudControl also spans a hybrid bridge by running already on cloudControl’s public PaaS developed applications on the private PaaS, and vice versa.

Furthermore cloudControl addressed service providers who want to build a PaaS offering itself to combine their existing services and infrastructure services.

Trend towards private and hybrid solutions intensifies

cloudControl is not the first company that has recognized the trend towards the private PaaS. Nevertheless the current security situation shows that companies are much more confident in dealing with the cloud and consider where they can store and process their data. For this reason cloudControl comes at exactly the right time to make it possible for companies to regain more control over their data and to raise awareness about where their data is actually located. Concurrently cloudControl also allows companies to enhance their own self-managed IT infrastructure with a true cloud-DNA by IT departments can provide developers with an easy access to resources to deliver faster and more productive results. In addition, IT departments can use the Application Lifecycle Engine as an opportunity to position themselves as a service broker and partner for the departments within the company.

Not to disregard is the possibility using cloudControl in a hybrid operation. It may well, relatively quickly, come to the fact that not enough local resources (computing power, storage space) are available, which are needed for the private PaaS. In this case the homogeneous architecture of the Application Lifecycle Engine can be used to fall back on cloudControl’s public PaaS, not to interfere with the progress of the projects and development activities.