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Microsoft: Pssst, small resellers, want to sling our cloud?

Redmond opens up Azure with Open Licensing

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Microsoft is preparing to give its channel partners another way of selling Azure to their customers.

The new "Open Licensing" option gives resellers and other channel partner types a way to sell a small amount of Microsoft's Azure public cloud to a customer without having to enter into an Enterprise Agreement (EA) with Redmond or buy directly from the web portal.

"The business opportunity for Microsoft's partners around cloud also continues to expand, and I'm excited to share that Microsoft Azure is coming to the Open Licensing program on August 1, 2014," Microsoft wrote in a blog post announcing the move on Wednesday.

"'Open License' is a licensing program by Microsoft designed for a 'corporate, academic, charitable, or government organization' that wants to purchase a mimimum of five software licenses through the agreement," Microsoft says in an FAQ outlining the scheme.

"When you resell Azure in Open Licensing, you purchase tokens from your preferred Distributor and apply the credit to the customer's Azure Portal in increments of $100," Microsoft reveals in its blog post. "The credits can be used for any consumption-based service available in Azure. To add more credit, you simply purchase new tokens and add them to the account. This gives you the opportunity to manage your customer's portal, setup services, and monitor consumption, all while maintaining a direct relationship."

Reselling is one area where Microsoft has an edge over rivals such as Amazon and Google, which have far less experience in dealing with the complexities that arise out of sharing a bit of potential customer money with other, smaller firms.

Redmond's main competitor here is VMware, which recently miffed some of its own partners by spinning up an Azure-competing "vCloud Hybrid Service" public cloud, causing resellers of vCloud cloud to become a bit anxious.

Microsoft's new channel-fluffing announcement comes a few months ahead of its Worldwide Partner Conference, which will take place in Washington DC in July. More information is available for partners here. ®

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