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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in 2020. Photo by Bloomberg
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Microsoft Hatches Plan to Sell Cloud Services to ‘Holdout’ Businesses

Photo: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in 2020. Photo by Bloomberg

Microsoft has become a cloud powerhouse provider primarily on the strength of its decadeslong, deep relationships with Fortune 500 companies. Now it’s stepping up its efforts to go after business customers who haven’t previously spent much on the cloud—call them cloud holdouts—so rivals like Amazon, Zoom and Salesforce don’t snap them all up first.

Early last year, Microsoft announced internally that it was forming a sales team to convince existing Microsoft customers who currently run most of their hardware and software operations themselves to buy at least some of their software in the cloud, according to two people with direct knowledge of the matter and documents viewed by The Information. Microsoft has allocated about $200 million to staff the new digital cloud acquisition team with roughly 500 salespeople, according to the two people, one of whom said the hiring will continue through the middle of next year.

Microsoft’s moves show how it’s seeking to emulate a strategy that the No. 1 cloud computing provider, Amazon Web Services, along with cloud application giants Salesforce and Zoom, have employed to great success in their respective markets, according to people who have worked at those companies.

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