Azure for Executives

Scaling Your Business Through The Microsoft Commercial Marketplace with Tanuj Bansal

Episode Summary

Today we’re talking about opportunities partners have in marketing and selling their solutions through Microsoft’s commercial marketplace. Through our commercial marketplace, partners have an opportunity to unlock access to millions of customers at a worldwide scale. Here, you’ll learn how the commercial marketplace works and steps you can take to take advantage of this in your business strategy.

Episode Notes

Today we’re talking about opportunities partners have in marketing and selling their solutions through Microsoft’s commercial marketplace. Through our commercial marketplace, partners have an opportunity to unlock access to millions of customers at a worldwide scale. 

Here, you’ll learn how the commercial marketplace works and steps you can take to take advantage of this in your business strategy.

Episode Links:

Episode Transcript
ISVs and Partners: Publish Your App
Customers: Buy an app
Marketplace Business Office Hours  
Marketplace Developer Office Hours
Join the Microsoft Partner Network


Tanuj Bansal is the General Manager of Azure Product Marketing. He has been in various leadership roles in product marketing for the Azure business from its very early days, always championing customer and partner success. 

Follow him on LinkedIn.


Paul Maher is General Manager of the Industry Experiences Team at Microsoft. He was formerly CTO at Milliman.

Follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

David Starr is a Principal Azure Solutions Architect in the Marketplace Onboarding, Enablement, and Growth team at Microsoft. 

Follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Episode Transcription

DAVID: Scaling your business through the Microsoft commercial marketplace with Tanuj Bansal.  

Welcome to the Azure for Executives Podcast, the show for technology leaders. This podcast covers trends and technologies in industries and how Microsoft Azure is enabling them. Here you'll hear from thought leaders in various industries and technologies on topics important to you. You'll also learn how to partner with Microsoft to enable your organization and your customers with Microsoft Azure.  

Today we're talking about opportunities that partners have in marketing and selling their solutions through Microsoft's commercial marketplace. Through our commercial marketplace, partners have an opportunity to unlock access to millions of customers at worldwide scale.  

Now, in this podcast, you're going to learn how the commercial marketplace works and steps you can take to take advantage of this in your business strategy. And to help us understand that, I'm delighted to welcome Tanuj Bansal, who is the General Manager of Azure Product Marketing. He has been in various leadership roles in product marketing for the Azure business from very early days, always championing customer and partner success. Tanuj, welcome to the show.

TANUJ: Thanks for having me, David. Looking forward to this.  

DAVID: Yeah, so are we. So let's get started with some fundamentals and talk about what is a B2B or commercial marketplace? And what role do you see them playing in the industry today?

TANUJ: As you know, every business, every organization, be it a startup or an enterprise, they're all relying on the cloud now for all aspects of their business. And then there are often customer needs that are specific to an industry, for example, manufacturing or even function within that industry, for example, finance. And there's a rich set of app developers developing their applications, their products to address this need on top of our cloud product. And that's where a commercial marketplace comes in, that they can bring in these products from third parties and actually service that very specific customer need. For example, our commercial marketplace connects customers to a catalog of over 30,000 apps and services created by our ISVs or technology partners.

DAVID: 30,000 apps and services, that's fantastic. So can you talk a little more about why independent software vendors, we call them ISVs or our partners, should sell directly through our marketplace?

TANUJ: Sure. Every ISV technology partner and services partner should be looking at our commercial marketplace as a foundational thing for the growth of their business. Here are three main reasons why. First of all, Microsoft Cloud by itself is a place that our ISVs can use to build unique apps that are simply not possible with any other cloud provider. For example, an ISV can use Azure data and our AI services with our industry Common Data Models or CDMS enabling seamless industry interop. You can leverage integration between Dynamics 365 and Power Platform with Azure Synapse Analytics. And, of course, you can use Azure Active Directory to support seamless user provisioning, maybe a B2B or a B2C app. So that's a very, very unique proposition that we are able to offer our partners to build these unique apps and serve those unique industry or functional leads that we just talked about before.  

The second is about once you have that app, you can use our marketplace to acquire customers once and then grow your footprint worldwide with our services. We're in 148 countries with over 1 billion Microsoft technology users. Microsoft 365 is almost ubiquitous with about 300 million Office 365 commercial users, almost 145 million Teams daily active users. I can go on and on with these numbers. Essentially, we are everywhere. Every second there is a user out there that's looking and using a Microsoft product.  

And we have seen some great examples of leveraging the power of this footprint. For example, I just talked to a partner named Hive Streaming. They're headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, and they published this app, their first listing, on our marketplace. They received a six-digit sale from a large customer in Japan all the way into Sweden. And this is just one example of a story. But it's a real testament to how the marketplace empowers these customers and partner connections across the globe. And of course, we have a very large distribution channel with tens of thousands of sellers out there, Microsoft sellers, as well as our 90,000-plus partners.  

And the last thing I wanted to add, David, is if you haven't caught or the listeners haven't caught the news, we recently reduced our commercial marketplace fee to a flat 3% from the industry-standard 20%. And we got a lot of kudos from that and press on this for this type of bold move. But it is essentially driving our belief in supporting our partners and their business and, of course, helping them succeed together with the customers.

PAUL: Tanuj, that's great. Thank you for the updates on the partners and publishers. So now that we have some really good reasons why partners can benefit from the Microsoft commercial marketplace, could you expand a little bit why customers would buy from the commercial marketplace?

TANUJ: Yeah. Thank you, Paul. And you're right; the marketplace inherently is a sell-side and a buy-side. It's a wheel that works together. So why would customers buy from our marketplace? First of all, procuring, managing, and onboarding new apps, especially in a cloud world where you can have so many choices, can get super complicated quickly. Our marketplace removes all of that complexity while at the same time providing access to a huge catalog that can support every customer's need and do so while streamlining and optimizing the customer costs. This really gives the customer the agility they need to stay at the edge and not worry about managing and procuring these apps.  

Number two, they can buy any third-party solution through marketplace, and 100% of that purchase counts toward a customer's Microsoft Azure Consumption Commitment or what we call a MACC, M-A-C-C. A MACC is simply just a way for customers to get discounts when they already have a planned, committed spending plan. And this also helps our partner sell. For example, F5, one of our ISVs that sells security solutions, has been able to close large deals through enterprise customers by leveraging this customer's consumption commitment I just talked about.  

And lastly, we provide functionality such as Private Azure Marketplace that creates almost an internal walled garden of curated and approved apps for the customer that their IT can manage. This makes it much easier for both purchasing and for the IT team to manage apps for their specific user base. This really helps enterprises manage and govern the app portfolio.

DAVID: Tanuj, you talked about business agility in that last answer, and I really love that. I love talking with customers who are able to just spool up a partner solution and have it work out of the box, just have it working right away, same day. And those are really great stories, even for very large enterprise solutions. And you mentioned some interesting scenarios also for apps built leveraging the Microsoft Cloud. So I'm wondering if you could elaborate on that a little bit, say how an app gets published for Azure, or Microsoft Teams, or perhaps even Dynamics 365; how do those show up for customers in the marketplace?

TANUJ: It's a great question, [laughs] no magic. And actually, it's quite simple. Our commercial marketplace, even though you're publishing those apps utilizing Azure or Teams or Dynamics 365, our marketplace just pulls from one central catalog that's managed by a Partner Center at our partner portal. And all of the apps that you talked about once published, all of the access to our customers and partners, such as our Cloud Solution Provider, opens up through that one catalog. So magic here is that one central catalog that everybody's pulling from.

PAUL: Thanks, Tanuj. So this story is really coming together. So we've heard you talk about partners and predominantly ISVs as we think about publishing solutions. And it's great to see and hear about the agency fee reduction to 3%. We've just covered about customers who, hopefully listening here, are going to be super excited about marketplace and be able to try and buy solutions on our marketplace from our fabulous partners. And so we've talked a lot about ISVs, but can you elaborate a little bit on what Cloud Solution Providers are and why ISVs benefit from them?

TANUJ: In fact, I was mentioning to David as well how important Cloud Solution Providers, or what we abbreviate as CSPs, are. Think of them as yet another distribution sales force and a front end to a customer that an ISV could be servicing. And we have almost 90,000 of them in our commercial marketplace. And CSPs are essentially partners who sell our Microsoft Cloud, but they also help customers be successful in deploying and managing the various workloads in the cloud, including apps a customer might benefit from. So that's where this intersection of CSPs and our app builders or ISVs comes in, that we provide access to this immense ecosystem who can help sell and deploy the ISV apps to a customer. 

And we really see this relationship as a critical way for all parties, customers, CSPs, ISVs, to be successful. So we're doing more work and, in fact, bringing things like margin sharing and private offers that empower partners to work together. An ISV and a CSP can work together to share margins and build a private offer that's then offered to a specific customer. This functionality is currently in public preview, and it is truly a win-win-win for customers, for ISVs, and for CSPs. Of course, we have many other ways to help our partners, whether that's selling directly through partners, or CSPs, or with Microsoft. And you probably heard the salient one being co-sell.

PAUL: Great. So, Tanuj, let's carry on the conversation. And so it's really the triangulation talking about Cloud Solution Providers that are helping ISVs, that are helping customers. So you mentioned that Microsoft helps partners, and we've talked about partners could be ISVs publishing. We've talked about Cloud Solution Providers and how they're helping ISVs and customers. And so, how can Microsoft help our partners go to market through this thing called co-sell? And most importantly, for our listeners, could you explain what co-sell actually is?

TANUJ: Yeah. So co-sell is one of the simplest named programs. It's essentially what it says. It's about selling applications and services where our field and partner work together. And we ensure that all participants benefit from this effort together. This type of approach also solidifies the mutual interest in customer success for our field and for our partners. Now, it's very simply said that way. But making it all happen, of course, is extremely complex, ensuring our field has motivation in their comp, our partners have the same motivation, and we are mechanistically able to execute it given the large number of sellers we have. And that's the power of this program.

We started the co-sell program, and we have been able to jointly sell more than $22 billion in partner apps and services. And that's not just Microsoft revenue; there's also partner revenue directly from co-selling together. Now, the key also to co-sell is through our commercial marketplace. You must publish in a commercial marketplace to unlock these tens of thousands of our field sellers and 90,000-plus CSPs plus solution provider partners worldwide.

DAVID: Tanuj, that's a perfect close out for the show talking about co-sell, such a powerful program. And I just want to thank you so much for joining us today to talk about the Microsoft commercial marketplace.

TANUJ: Thank you, David, for having me. I really appreciate you hosting me together with Paul.

DAVID: You bet. And I want to also let our listeners know that an upcoming episode that we'll have in a couple of weeks is going to focus exclusively on the benefits programs for Microsoft publishers, so please look for that. And if you have more questions, our teams here at Microsoft actually hold weekly office hours for you to get started selling your solutions in the Microsoft marketplace. So info for those weekly webinars, both technical and business-focused, will be shared in the show notes. I'll make sure that they're in there. And as always, we'll have relevant links in the show notes for ISVs and customers. Thanks, listeners. It's been a great conversation.  

Thank you for joining us for this episode of the Azure For Executives Podcast. We love hearing from you. And if you have suggestions for topics, questions about issues discussed on the show, or other feedback, contact the show host, David Starr or Paul Maher, through the social media links included in the show notes for each episode. We look forward to hearing from you.