What I love about Microsoft is the beautiful marketing machine that knows how to create a spectacle, always on message, and always on point. So at first I found it a little odd that the theme for this year’s Microsoft Hosting Summit had the rather innocuous tagline of “Seize the Moment.”

At the time I struggled to find the context.  Of course, I knew what it meant. I just didn’t know what it meant for the service provider community. Surely they all had a different perspective, a different way forward.  So, how were they supposed to “Seize their Moment”?

All joking aside.  I made the choice to approach this conference with the same energy applied in so many conferences past. I set out to network and meet as many partners as I could.  In this short space of time, the intent was to gain each partner’s perspective on their business.

I led with three questions to every partner I came across on day one:

  1. How did you get into the hosting business?
  2. How is this business different from when you first started?
  3. What are customers looking for?

Interestingly, all of my conversations were remarkably similar.  Just about every partner I spoke with related to me their opinions about the “Wild-West” hosting business.  Early on, everyone saw the potential, but while technology professionals were focused on technology strategy their customers were hesitant to invest in solutions.  Sadly, good business opportunities were lost because of this “do nothing” attitude.  Worse, few competitors were emerging.

Over time, as more and more companies were embracing this solution, the ideas brought forward from the realm of the technologists grew more in line with the business decision makers. Today, we are at an inflection point. Smart partners in the hosting business are able to charge a premium for valuable services.  Because customers are demanding value for their money, price discounts are no longer the standard.  Customers are searching for value-add from their service providers.  Most importantly, they’re looking for that trusted adviser relationship.

Colonel Chris Hadfield – Space Oddity

It wasn’t till I attended day two and the morning keynote sessions that the Microsoft “Seize the Moment” tagline began to crystallize for me. In true Microsoft style, they led with Colonel Chris Hadfield, a special guest speaker.  Those of you not living under a rock for the last few years will remember, he is the Canadian astronaut who was commander of the International Space Station Soyuz. He became famous for his rendition of David Bowie’s Space Oddity, which he played in the space station. Chris was the set up for the message being delivered to the hosting providers. Astronauts spend years preparing for the opportunity to travel into space– and like your business, having the intent to succeed is not enough,  his message was that we must move forward with a resource development plan so that when an opportunity arises, we can seize the moment with confidence and with clarity of purpose.

451 Research – Michelle Bailey, SVP Datacenter Initiatives and Data Strategy

Michelle Bailey was the follow up act to Chris Hadfield. Michelle spoke about Cloud 2.0.  She really focused on what customers are looking for today, as opposed to when we started the journey at Cloud 1.0.

451 Research demonstrated the characteristics of Cloud 2.0 that resonates with customers and are in line of with their business objectives.  This research clearly shows that customers are looking for security, complexity and seek value for their money.

Sound familiar? This research parallels what Service Providers are saying about their business. In Cloud 2.0, it is more important than ever before to listen to your customer. I can’t go into too much detail about the data provided by 451 Research, since Microsoft Cloud and Hosting Summit was an NDA event.  But, I think it is safe to reveal just enough to help you understand when and why I had my “aha” moment.

I strongly believe that the time for service providers to seize the moment is here.  Customers are choosing cloud service providers on the basis of a number of the following attributes:

  1. Can the service provider supply industry specific solutions?
  2. Do they have open/flexible platforms?
  3. Is the service provider trustworthy?
  4. Do they constantly deliver?
  5. Does the service provider know my business?
  6. Will they work together with me to deal with problems?
  7. Is the solution offered value for money? (as opposed to the cheapest)
  8. Does the service provider understand my business?

At The End Of Michelle’s Presentation The Key Take Away Points Were:

a)      Listen to your customers

b)      Mission critical workloads require enterprise-grade trust and security

c)      Customers expect good partnerships and your growth is dependent upon it.

Revenue Opportunity: Expanding RDS User Offerings with Complete Hosted Desktops

There is exploding demand for Desktops-as-a-Service  – and the numbers tell the story:

Citrix can help expand an RDS business into a service that offers complete hosted workspaces that are accessible from any device. Service providers can differentiate offerings and drive revenue growth with a cloud-hosted desktop offering. Citrix service providers attract new subscribers with a competitive, compelling and complete Desktops-as-a-Service offering that includes hosted apps, complete desktops, secure file share and synch, plus device management.

Seizing the Moment with the Citrix Service Provider Program

How will you seize the moment as a Citrix Service Provider? One thing became very loud and clear at this event – with the advent of Cloud 2.0, and with customers knowing more about what they want, the enterprise features of the Citrix portfolio of technologies will allow Citrix Services Providers to value sell and value position a Citrix Service Provider proposition that resonates with the Cloud 2.0 set. Utilizing the tools and resources of the Citrix Service Provider Center of Excellence is a great starting point to plan and prepare –as Chris Hadfield points out, so that you can seize the moment. In addition expect to see more sales and marketing plays that align with the Microsoft go to market plans in 2015.

Not at Hosting Summit this year? Email csp@citrix.com to learn more about expanding revenue growth and satisfying end users with Citrix-based hosted desktops on top of Microsoft hosting licenses.

–          Why Service Providers Choose Citrix

–          How do service providers price Desktops-as-a-Service offerings?

–          25 reasons for a service provider to join the Citrix Service Provider program

If you’re interested in becoming a Citrix Service Provider or to find more information click here

If you’re already a Citrix Service Provider then click here to learn more in the Citrix Service Provider Center of Excellence.

*Citrix Global DaaS Market survey, June 2014