Investors have been debating how much Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)’s Server business will be hurt as enterprise customers shift to cloud computing. Bernstein analysts say, however, that the reverse is true. Their estimates suggest a 1% to 5% in total revenue from Windows Server software if only 10% of Windows Server customers move to the company’s mid-range Azure platform-as-a-service.
Cloud migration is good for Microsoft
In a research note dated Nov. 25, 2014, analysts Mark Moerdler and Zhe Shen note that much of Wall Street expects the shift to cloud computing to significantly damage Microsoft’s Server revenue. Cloud services have lower margins, so shifting an increase in Cloud revenue may not be enough to offset expected declines in Server revenue. Or will they?
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The Bernstein team sets forth a scenario suggesting that Microsoft will actually do better as enterprise customers shift to the cloud. They say that a customer running Windows Server on-site creates $1,414 in revenue for Microsoft over five years. That includes $883 for the Server license and assumes half of customers buy the optional $220 per year optional maintenance service.
If the customer shifts the same amount of computing power to the cloud, the Bernstein team states that Microsoft could see “significant revenue uplift,” even if the customer uses a competitor’s cloud infrastructure like Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN)’s Web Services.
How much could Microsoft benefit?
According to the analysts, in the scenario above, Microsoft could see a 38% revenue increase if just a single Windows Server instance is moved to run on infrastructure-as-a-service. They estimate $1,964 in revenue, a 38% increase over five years as customer shift to most vendors. The reason for this is because they believe customers running Windows Server on the cloud must buy the maintenance plan from Microsoft.
If a customer shifts from Windows Server to Microsoft Azure, they estimate an 87% increase in revenue. They project $2,630 in revenue over five years from customers who shift to the Azure platform-as-a-service. That includes $526 per year in subscription fees over five years.
The analysts say the five-year cumulative increase in Server license revenue could go as high as 1,300%, depending on what type of server an enterprise customer is running in the cloud.