Two business people working on a project together on a tablet

The Evolution of “Solution” in the Cloud Era

24 Feb 2017 by Howard M Cohen

What do you mean when you say the word “solution”? What promises or capabilities are expected when you use this term? In 2011, Microsoft made history by introducing Dynamics CRM 2011 Online before releasing the version for installation on premises. This was the first time that an online version of anything had rolled out first.

Bill Patterson, then Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM product manager, believed that over the next few years, we were going to witness what he called “An Evolution of Solution.”

Patterson explained that when most solution providers talk about a “solution” they are simply referring to more infrastructure. Have a problem? We have a solution; throw more infrastructure at it.

A rush to relevance

He went on to say that clients would not be tolerant of that much longer. Even then, he saw customers clamoring for “solutions” that were “business-relevant.”  By that they meant relevant to the operation of their particular business — things that would clearly increase revenue, decrease costs or both. Jump ahead to 2015 when a survey of 300 IT decision-makers from 101 to 5,000+ employee companies revealed that most enterprises were looking to receive improved security, efficiency, data storage, speed, scalability, flexibility, mobility and more when they adopted cloud-based services or cloud-based servers. These benefits were the driving forces behind the success of businesses because they are were relevant to daily operations, supported clients and added value to their overall offerings.

This bar graph depicts companies' top three benefits received from using the cloud. It breaks the benefits down into percentages for each.

Fast-forward to today

Jump ahead just a little further to 2016 and Patterson’s words become ever more prophetic. Additionally, as cloud services have replaced much of what was the infrastructure requirement of those times, customers continue to become more sophisticated. Today’s end users still want solutions that will help them drive greater productivity, but they are more keen toward adopting cloud solutions that are specific to their unique business challenges. They’re not impressed by infrastructure or even by technology itself. They want what the technologies can do for their business in definable, quantifiable metrics.

Taking the Microsoft Cloud Solutions Provider program further

Service providers are now running the risk of repeating history and having the words “cloud solution” simply mean Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS). In actuality, when clients talk about solutions, they’re talking about applications and workloads which can significantly contribute to the growth of their businesses.

Former Microsoft WorldWide Channel Chief Phil Sorgen added his voice to Patterson’s, stating that, “Our one and only job at Microsoft is that we deliver a platform that partners can successfully deliver their solutions on." This presupposes that partners have solutions to deliver on Microsoft’s platform.

Winning with workloads

Anyone who is even remotely related to the Microsoft Partner EcoSystem has felt the pressure to increase Microsoft Azure consumption. The only way to accomplish that is to deliver more workloads, more applications and more data assets that require Azure services to be consumed.

Microsoft has been working diligently to find new ways to make this easier. Cloud Solution Providers (CSPs) who develop their own intellectual property (IP) for resale in the form of applications will find it easy to license Microsoft SQL Server as the foundational database for their applications by leveraging the Service Provider License Agreement (SPLA). Being part of the Microsoft CSP program or working with Microsoft  SPLA, gives partners an opportunity to combine their own IP with Microsoft products and services, offering their clients a single point of management and account control. With SPLA, they receive one invoice containing the entire solution, which aligns well with their service agreement and purchase orders, and a clearly defined partner to turn to for all related services.

CSPs selling SQL under SPLA

Licensing is legendary as a complex discipline unto itself. Let Insight, Microsoft’s No. 1 SPLA provider, be your guide to the intricacies of SPLA and SQL licensing in the cloud. Learn more about how you can unlock your full potential and manage all of your licensing seamlessly in one place with Microsoft SQL Server.