As a traditional Microsoft partner, you can probably remember the good ol’ days. Steady, predictable, the kinds of things you could build a nice business on, in your own time. For customers, you were more like the utility company. Necessary, but unseen. But then the cloud crashed into everything.
The Cloud Lanes
Microsoft’s “cloud” is actually a ten lane highway. When it began, most partners picked a lane. The more ambitious partners may have picked two, or even three lanes, but I am not aware of any partner who drives across all ten. The widest lane is the center lane, Office 365; that lane alone is 3 lanes wide, just to handle all of the traffic. It is also the lane that has been travelling the fastest, so it has had the most appeal. Most partners entering the cloud highway, head straight for that middle lane. That lane is also a double-decker, with a lane above for Managed Services, that may or may not be Microsoft specific. The vast majority of Microsoft partners are driving in this wide middle lane today. Just to the right is the Azure lane, which started as a single lane, and recently became a double wide lane, as traffic on that lane has increased significantly. Just to the left of the center lane is the hardware lane, this used to be a triple wide lane, but is now a single rutted lane, that just crawls along. The farthest left lane, the icy lane, is IOT; there are only a few drivers over there, and they are the bravest of souls. We watch them speed by, but know we don’t have the guts to go with them. Back over to the right, we have the Dynamics CRM, and Cloud ERP lanes, which just merged into one double wide lane, with a lot of under-construction signs saying “Dynamics 365 Ahead”. Man, that cloud ERP lane just appeared out of nowhere! On the other side of the shoulder, past the fence, there are two more parallel lanes that are not connected: on-premise CRM and on-premise ERP, (there used to be a lane over there for on-premise exchange, but that one closed recently). While still crowded, those remaining two lanes are going awfully slow, and if you squint your eyes and look way out, it looks like Microsoft is planting explosives on their bridge ahead. They say they are just inspecting it for longevity, but I swear I see explosives. In the meantime, many of those drivers are crashing though the fence to merge into the newly renamed “Dynamics 365” lane. Of all of the lanes, that Dynamics 365 lane looks like a zoo, probably due to the construction. There are partners tentatively poking along, while other partners are flying along with abandon. That lane looks crazy right now, and they keep crossing the line into the Office 365 lane. Like the Office 365 drivers did not have enough to deal with, now they have those nuts in the Dynamics 365 lane swerving all over the place. Wait… that huge car that keeps nudging the Dynamics 365 drivers over into the Office 365 lane… is that… yes… it’s Jujhar Singh driving, and Scott Guthrie is sitting next to him… pointing. I can hear Scott, “Now that we merged CRM and ERP, it’s time to crash this into the Office 365 lane.” I can also hear Satya on their speaker phone, “I want to merge all these lanes! Do it…. do it NOW!”. It’s starting to look like a street in Mexico! The Power BI drivers are crisscrossing all the lanes now. The lanes are getting crossed so often that the lines are wearing off, and they’re getting harder and harder to see. There are drivers going all different speeds now, crossing lanes without even knowing it, and some even going the opposite of traffic, trying to figure out what the hell is going on! Most drivers are trying real hard to remain in their lanes, but even they are looking over at the other lanes, wondering if those lanes are moving faster. Even the GP lane, a traditionally safe lane, now has this little Financials motorcycle zipping between them, upsetting their smooth flow. But wait…. as I look out ahead with my binoculars, I see the entire highway drop off. The cars have left their wheels and are hovering forward, gliding across the former lanes like they never existed. Swooshing from productivity to business apps to analytics… and I can see Satya too…. smiling, as Microsoft stock soars….
“Steve… STEVE… wake up! You’re dreaming… and we need to get new tires today!”, “Huh… what… oh, let’s hold off on the tires… I have a feeling may not need them soon.”