The overall success of Microsoft’s Azure platform and intelligent cloud services cannot be denied. Microsoft’s cloud services segment reported $7.8 billion in revenue during the second quarter of 2017 alone, an increase of 15% over 2016’s results. According the conference call discussing the results, Azure is growing at an accelerated rate of 98% year over year.

But Microsoft Azure, despite the multitude of services available, is still just a platform. Azure and intelligent cloud services merely provide the framework for ground-breaking technological and best practices innovation. Enterprises, particularly small entrepreneurial enterprises, are the true key to the success of Microsoft Azure, because they are the ones building innovative, marketable, and desired business solutions.

This is why Microsoft has pledged $500 million over the next two years toward the Microsoft for Startups program. The initiative will provide entrepreneurial cloud services enterprises access to technology, go-to-market, and community benefits that will help them grow their customer and revenue base. In return, Microsoft increases the number of Azure users and advances the demonstrated usefulness of their ecosystem and platform.

SEE: Cloud migration decision tool (Tech Pro Research)

Microsoft for Startups

Qualified companies in the Microsoft for Startups program will be able to tap into Microsoft’s existing sales force and channel partners to connect to new customers. Dedicated resources will be provided to help these startups’ marketing and sales teams prepare to effectively sell their cloud solutions to other enterprises already using Microsoft cloud products like Azure.

Microsoft for Startups will also provide qualified entrepreneurial companies with up to $120,000 in free Azure credits, enterprise grade technical support, and development tools. Microsoft will also kick in access to productivity and business applications, including Office 365 and Dynamics 365.

In addition, startups can also gain access to other small business development programs like Microsoft Reactors, Microsoft ScaleUp, and Microsoft Ventures. All these programs are designed to grow small struggling businesses into large profitable enterprises using Microsoft products and services.

SEE: Microsoft Azure: The smart person’s guide (TechRepublic)

Bottom line

The cloud services business is booming, and Microsoft, with the Azure platform and intelligent cloud services, is one of the industry leaders. But no matter how technologically advanced and sophisticated a cloud platform may be, its true success can only be measured by how it is used in the real world. Cloud platforms that do not solve real world business problems are doomed to fail regardless of their underlying technology.

With the Microsoft for Startups program, and a financial commitment of $500 million, Microsoft is seeking new entrepreneurial partners that can not only grow the user base for its products, but also advanced the technological foundations of Azure. Despite what it has accomplished with its current cloud services, Microsoft cannot predict nor anticipate what innovative business solutions enterprises will need in the future.

However, Microsoft can provide the framework in Azure that enterprises can use to develop those business solutions and, with the Microsoft for Startups program, encourage the growth and development of those solution-seeking enterprises. As long as those new solutions depend on Microsoft products and services, it is the epitome of a win-win scenario.

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