An interview with John Turk, Partner Marketing Advisor, Microsoft
Today’s customers face unprecedented challenges—and to rise above them, they need the flexibility and scalability of the cloud. But many organizations are still using legacy databases like SQL Server 2008, putting their businesses at risk for security breaches or stagnation. Now is the right time for partners to help customers modernize by moving them to Azure.
We spoke to John Turk, Partner Marketing Advisor at Microsoft, to learn how partners can use SQL Server migrations to Azure to build high-margin practices and give customers the data and AI solutions they need, no matter their size.
Why is SQL Server modernization important?
For a lot of partners, SQL Server migration is about elevating your business model. When you manage SQL Server, you spend a lot of time patching it and performing maintenance. But once you move data into Azure PaaS, you don’t have to worry about that as much—you’ll never have to check a physical server again. As a partner, it’s much easier to manage and optimize your time once your customers are in the cloud. You’re free to focus on building better solutions for them and making more money.
The latest SQL products offer customers security, business intelligence, flexibility, and scalability, too. They’re always up to date and they have embedded security, so there’s no risk of data loss. Plus, customers can right-size their servers so they build and pay for exactly what they need rather than having to overprovision. Scaling is easy and it can be automatic, so customers get a lot of time and cost savings too.
Really, whatever customers want to do, even advanced workloads like analytics or business intelligence, the cloud just makes it all so much easier.
How can partners build a profitable SQL Server migration practice?
Listen for the right customer migration triggers. Security is really important now, and so is learning to use machine learning and AI to help customers solve real problems. These are two key areas that can help partners both figure out where to start and what kinds of solutions to start creating.
Partners need to build packageable, repeatable solutions that they can scale across their customer bases. That means it’s essential to enable your people—you need to give them the skills to effectively deliver solutions. You should also know that a migration just isn’t going to go perfectly the first time—it’s complicated technology with a steep learning curve. But that’s okay. Once you do it a few times, it gets easier, and you’ll see more ways to make more money.
It also helps, when you’re selling a service, to sell the entire service. Instead of just offering SQL Server, sell a fully managed data service. Offer onboarding support for customers. Manage their SQL environment. Provide recommendations to help them modernize. Support them all the way through. And if you can package your solution with other services like Azure Security Center, you’ll really give your customers a smart, fixed-price solution they can plug-and-play.
Providing the right solutions and recommendations is the value that partners add once customer data is moved to Azure. You can be a trusted IT advisor and help customers drive more business. You’ll be the one pulling up Power BI dashboards to show customers how they are—and how they should be—using data. This way, you can make those relationships sticky and give customers more reason to keep coming back, to trust that you will recommend even more advanced solutions.
How do you use SQL Server migrations to start a larger conversation about modernizing customers’ data estates?
You first need to understand what customers’ goals are and how they use data to get there. Then you can start mapping technology to those goals so customers can really see how to extract more value from their data and use it to move their businesses forward.
Learning about a few key workloads can help partners start the conversation. I’d start with Power BI, because a lot of the time that’s a business conversation that will get you to conversations about additional tools for advanced workloads. Power BI can help you open a lot of doors with customers.
If your customers have an interest in AI, Azure Bot Service can help them see what an AI workload in Azure can do. And if you implement an Azure bot on a customer website and they see better customer response or behavior that drives business goals, that can be a good way to further the conversation.
Power Apps can also provide a smart way for partners to bolster their managed services. Partners can create something that works for customers and sell it on Azure Marketplace and scale it, or use it to help customers optimize their environment or connect disparate services, which is common. Starting with any of these options can help you develop your relationships with customers and find more opportunities to deliver real, tangible value to them in an intelligent way.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at SALES@MAVENSOFT.COM.