The logo for SAS, which has formed an alliance with Microsoft
The logo for SAS, which has formed an alliance with Microsoft

Microsoft-SAS Alliance Is Great, But When Will Microsoft Buddy Up with Amazon?

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By aligning tightly with analytics superstar SAS, Microsoft has gained a vast amount of additional firepower in its already-formidable lineup of products centered on AI, data, machine learning and analytics.

In addition, Microsoft also adds another top-tier enterprise-software company to its lengthy list of powerful allies that includes more than half of the Cloud Wars Top 10

In just this past year, Microsoft has formed or enhanced cloud partnerships with #3 Salesforce, #5 SAP, #6 Oracle, #8 Workday, #9 ServiceNow and #10 Adobe.

While each of those partnerships has its own specific details and desired outcomes, the upshot for Microsoft is that those alliances make it easier for customers to choose Azure as their cloud foundation of choice.

These alliances also benefit customers for multiple reasons: 

  • simplify the integrations essential for multicloud environments; 
  • reduce the time and friction and money required to get heterogeneous apps and data sets to work together seamlessly;
  • provide customers with new and unique solutions; 
  • allow customers to focus more of their time and money on dazzling their own customers; and
  • enhance cybersecurity by giving customers unified approaches across vendor lines.

Those seven companies—SAS, Salesforce, SAP, Oracle, Workday, ServiceNow and Adobe—are among the most successful and capable software companies in the world. And they’ve all shown they’re eager to work with Microsoft, the #1 cloud vendor in the world.

Now, notable by their absences from the list of Microsoft BFF’s are three other powerhouses from the Cloud Wars Top 10: #2 Amazon’s AWS, #4 Google Cloud and #7 IBM. 

And I would love to see Microsoft figure out a way to do a deal with AWS for the mutual benefit of customers. 

I don’t see a path for Microsoft and Google Cloud to pair up—the two companies are just too competitive in too many areas. But the AWS possibility is intriguing. Clearly there’s significant overlap in public-cloud infrastructure, but there are also some considerable differences:

  • while AWS is the category king in IaaS, Microsoft is much stronger in PaaS and is getting even stronger, as we discussed yesterday in Hey Larry Ellison: Microsoft’s #1 Priority Is Replacing Oracle Database;
  • Microsoft has a powerful SaaS presence with Dynamics 365 whereas AWS has avoided the applications space; and
  • Microsoft’s vast reach with Microsoft 365 (Office, Windows and more) is also an area where AWS has no presence.

One of the challenges of being #1 is that everyone expects you to be able to do things no one else can do—I mean, that’s why you’re #1, right?

So while it’s easy to conclude that #1 Microsoft and #2 Amazon would never, ever, evuh find common ground for a partnership that would deliver value to customers that neither company could offer on its own, remember that a year ago, Microsoft convinced the ultimate lone wolf—Oracle—to become a partner.

And under the heading of never say never, it would not surprise me if sometime here in 2020 master diplomat Satya Nadella and his quest to make Azure “the world’s computer” leads to a customer-centric alliance between the world’s #1 cloud vendor and the #2 vendor.

Because in the Cloud Wars, the ultimate definition of victory is customer success.

Disclosure: at the time of this writing, Microsoft was among the many clients of Cloud Wars Media LLC and/or Evans Strategic Communications LLC.


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