Microsoft Azure partners get new tool, migration program


Microsoft has uncorked a series of announcements on the eve of Microsoft Inspire, many of them focused on Microsoft Azure management and migration; more news from the week.
John Moore and Spencer Smith
12 Jul 2019
Microsoft Azure partners are getting a new management tool and a migration program as part of channel investments Microsoft revealed in the run-up to the company’s annual partner conference.

Microsoft introduced Azure Lighthouse, which the company said gives partners “a single control plane” for viewing and managing Azure across customers. The new Azure Migration Program, or AMP, aims to help customers accelerate their cloud adoption.

The moves are part of a broader barrage of announcements ahead of Microsoft Inspire, which will run from July 14 to 18 in Las Vegas. In addition to the Azure initiatives, Microsoft expanded its Teams collaboration software, launched vertical market integrations for Dynamics 365 and took the wraps off a new Microsoft competency and several specializations.

Partners, meanwhile, saw potential in both Azure developments.

“We haven’t started working with it yet, but we are excited about what potential it can provide and some of the solutions to challenges we are hearing it is going to offer,” said Rory McCaw, president of enterprise advisory services at Green House Data, an Azure Expert Managed Services Provider (MSP) based in Cheyenne, Wyo.

He said Lighthouse offers a single platform that provides access into multiple tenants, simplifying cloud management. The management offering will be available to Microsoft Azure partners this month, according to Microsoft.

JD HelmsJD Helms
JD Helms, president of CloudJumper, a cloud workspace vendor and Gold-level Microsoft partner, called Azure Lighthouse an attempt to simplify what he termed the “powerful, yet extremely complex” Azure management portal. “While it’s a step in the right direction, it is still limited in scope and functionality.”

Helms said Lighthouse validates the market demand for a simplified Azure management console, as well as third-party Azure management consoles. CloudJumper offers Cloud Workspace Management Suite, which Helms said provides a single-pane-of-glass console for a range of Azure services.

AMP, meanwhile, provides resources and tools, such as Azure Migrate, which centrally plans and tracks an Azure migration. AMP provides guidance to customers through “Microsoft experts and specialized migration partners,” according to Microsoft.

AMP also provides offers to reduce the expense of migration. “Microsoft has always had funding programs and funding mechanisms, but it is clear that AMP is highlighting their interest in seeing a massive migration of workloads to Azure,” McCaw said.

He said the timing is appropriate, given the approaching end of life of Windows Server 2008 and this week’s end of support for SQL Server 2008. Microsoft is offering three years of automated Extended Security Updates for SQL Server 2008 customers that rehost their workloads to Azure.

AMP ties in to VMware on Azure, McCaw added. He said AMP aims to make it easier for enterprise customers using VMware as the hypervisor to move from an on-premises VMware implementation to an Azure-based one, especially for their older Windows Server and SQL Server instances.

Robin Brandl, vice president of strategic alliances at CloudJumper, said AMP “simplifies the migration process for specific workloads and provides an alternative to traditional lift-and-shift deployments.”

In addition to the tools and programs for Microsoft Azure partners, Microsoft rolled out extensions to Microsoft Teams and Dynamics 365. New Teams features include partner integrations that support contact centers, compliance recording and cloud solutions providers, according to Microsoft. Dynamics 365 updates include integrations targeting the automotive and financial services industries. Microsoft also announced the latest version of its Dynamics 365 Nonprofit Accelerator.

Other developments include the availability of a Microsoft competency in security and five advanced specializations focusing on Microsoft Azure: Windows Server and SQL Server Migration to Microsoft Azure; Linux and Open Source Databases Migration to Microsoft Azure; Data Warehouse Migration to Microsoft Azure; Modernization of Web Applications in Microsoft Azure; and Kubernetes on Microsoft Azure.

2nd Watch launches AWS migration service
2nd Watch, a public cloud MSP based in Seattle, has rolled out a service that focuses on AWS Managed Services (AMS).

For us, we see [AMS] as a piece of the cloud journey that gets the customer to be successful.
Jeff Aden
Executive vice president of marketing and business development, 2nd Watch
The company’s AMS Onboarding Accelerator aims to help clients assess, migrate and operationalize applications from on-premises infrastructure to the AWS cloud, according to 2nd Watch. The service is delivered in two parts. Part one consists of a four-hour discovery and planning workshop that is free of charge. Part two provides onboarding acceleration, a phase that includes applications discovery, architecture and infrastructure design, and a migration strategy, among other components.

AWS’ entry into the managed services space in late 2016 raised eyebrows, but MSP executives report AMS hasn’t hurt their businesses.

Jeff AdenJeff Aden
Jeff Aden, executive vice president of marketing and business development at 2nd Watch, said not everything a customer wants to do in the Amazon cloud fits into AMS.

“For us, we see [AMS] as a piece of the cloud journey that gets the customer to be successful,” he said. “We are not shying away from it. We see it as an opportunity for a customer to continue to adopt and scale their cloud usage.”

He said some ISVs have used 2nd Watch’s Onboarding Accelerator to provide their on-premises offerings in a cloud-based solution. He said the ISV example is a good use case but noted the service isn’t exclusive to ISVs.

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