You’re probably thinking whoever wrote that headline has lost his mind. Everybody knows that Amazon Web Services (AWS) owns the lion’s share of the cloud-computing market, and you’d be right to think that. But hear me out. There’s a reason why Microsoft is quickly closing the market share gap and it has everything to do with you, the customer.
Microsoft Azure infrastructure services leader Corey Sanders notes that “every customer matters” and “every product is critical.” And while just about every company on the planet might make similar assertions, Microsoft is backing their statement with freebies including free trials of Azure to anyone and everyone, cash grants for nonprofits and startups, and huge discounts to large organizations that give Azure a go.
Most developers agree that Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure are nearly identical when it comes to the features. However, AWS is slightly cheaper than Azure and already has the reputation as a cloud-computing pioneer and currently holds the market’s majority share. So, what will Microsoft have to do to be more competitive?
Microsoft is hoping to be No.1 in cloud computing by using their vast resources to ensure startups are getting what they need for cheap and even sometimes for free. Seattle-based DefinedCrowd learned firsthand what MS is willing to do to attract more customers. Microsoft offered DefinedCrowd $500,000 in credits to spend on the Azure platform if they signed up for Microsoft’s startup program.
A half-million dollars goes a long way in getting a software company like DefinedCrowd off the ground. In this case, the money essentially paid for DC’s entire technology infrastructure cost. Business development manager for DC, Aya Zook, noted that Microsoft’s offer “was kind of hard to refuse” so they accepted the offer.
But like most companies, Microsoft doesn’t give away that kind of cash without knowing they’ll get something out of it too. In this case, Microsoft may have given away the farm but they did so knowing that other startups would see an opportunity in working with them, thereby helping to increase their market share.
It seems to have worked as Microsoft Azure is positioned to become the leader in cloud-computing. But giveaways alone won’t get Azure to the top of the heap. They know that giving startups a bunch of freebies alone won’t cut it, so they are taking it to the next level by offering boots on the ground when needed as they know better than anyone how powerful word of mouth marketing can be.
Vancouver-based Mojio was developing software for connecting cars when they hit a snag. Shortly after going live with their network connection became quickly overwhelmed and Mojio began to plan for the worst – a complete collapse of their software program worth millions. CEO Kenny Hawk reached out to a former Microsoft board member for help and what he got amazed him.
Microsoft’s Satya Nadella had engineers working the problem with just a couple of hours and even sent some of their engineers on site to help Mojio. “It wasn’t just that we were nice people, or that we’d been a part of BizSpark,” Hawk said. “They see how big the connected car market will be. Having a core customer in that space is strategic.”
In the end, Microsoft is looking to the future and what it means to the company. By taking steps to garner more of the market share of cloud computing by working with innovators in emerging markets, Microsoft all but guarantees their place in the next generation of computing.