Just as many aspects of the 90s, including music and fashion, are back in vogue (if only I’d kept hold of the contents of my wardrobe!) so too – it seems – is Microsoft facing a growing storm of anti-competitive accusations for their licensing practices.
The latest shot is from Matt Garman, the AWS SVP of Sales & Marketing, who takes aim at Microsoft’s differing cloud licensing rules for Listed Providers (Amazon, Google, Alibaba) and – following the announcement in May 2022– all other cloud providers. While Microsoft say they will now allow customers to run various additional Microsoft products including:
in 3rd party clouds – these products will still be non-compliant if used in Amazon AWS, Google Cloud Platform, or Alibaba Cloud. This, Garman says, is Microsoft choosing “not to do what’s right for customers” and making the change for all environments but instead identifying those “about whom it is less competitively concerned” and making the changes there only.
He goes on to state that Amazon “hear from customers around the world that MSFT’s discriminatory licensing practices are costing them millions of dollars”. It is certainly the case that the vast majority of organizations I speak to are looking at how they can deploy Microsoft software in Azure or AWS. This means that the announced changes won’t have the huge impact that one might first think as most organizations won’t be able to take advantage of the soon to be relaxed cloud licensing rules.
What it could do is drive organizations who have ruled out Azure (for whatever reason) to look instead at any cloud other than those Listed Providers. For now, rather than it being only Microsoft Azure that can do these things, it is the case that (almost) everyone except Amazon AWS can do them…making AWS the odd one out – a subtle, but possibly impactful, shift in perception.
It will be interesting to see what, if any, action Amazon AWS take in an effort to force further change from Microsoft. There are already various complaints within the EU from Slack and OVH Cloud (among others) – will Amazon add themselves to the queue?
Given their experiences in the 90s, will Microsoft be more inclined to address these cloud licensing issues earlier than before – lest they cause the Redmond giant to lose focus at what is still a critical time within the technology industry? Or, in a homage to that great decade, will they tell Amazon to talk to the hand?