Microsoft details partner solution plans

Determined to affirm support of its 81,000 strong partner community, Microsoft Corp. Friday kicked off its Fusion show here announcing new leadership and reinforcing commitment to fostering business opportunities based on its .Net infrastructure strategy.

In a changing of the guard, outgoing GM of partner sales and marketing Rosa Garcia introduced her successor Allison Watson, vice president partner sales and marketing group.

Garcia, who is leaving to take the reins at Microsoft's Spain operations, leaves behind a partner channel looking for new opportunities amidst a tough U.S. economy.

Microsoft is also using the show here to assure partners who have grown wary of the software giant's approach to delivering services via its Microsoft Services Organization (MSO), in some cases competing directly with its partners.

Watson conceded during her keynote that the MSO has in the past alienated some partners, but reiterated its continued efforts to focus the organization on leveraging its partner.

To that end, she details plans to build out specific solution sets and to focus on its e-learning center launched several weeks ago that carries about 11 online courses. In addition, the company has made available $26 million in subsidies for online learning via the center.

According to Watson, Microsoft has 5,500 major enterprise accounts, 16,000 corporate accounts and 347,000 medium-sized accounts, representing "over 1 million opportunities." In line with that, Watson said Microsoft is realigning its product groups around set of "go to market" solution groups, namely IT infrastructure, application platform, and business productivity.

Winning over sustained loyalty of partners is much needed, according to one attendee.

"[The issue] really is a question of how Microsoft sorts itself out in the services space," said Stephen Krajewski, partner and channel manager at United Kingdom-based Conchango.

"The emphasis for us is what's the business case for us," Krajewski said. The momentum behind Microsoft's .Net strategy is giving Conchango, an application integration company, the opportunity to migrate some customers away from Java-based platforms, he said.

In particular, the adoption of the .Net framework across Microsoft's .Net server line is introducing cost efficiencies that help convince customers.

"Web services becomes part of an overall solution rather than the solution," he said.

Watson's keynote was followed by a keynote from Mike Splinter, executive VP, director of sales and marketing at Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel Corp.

Among the on-stage demonstrations, Splinter touted the forthcoming Banias family of next-generation mobile products. Specifically designed as a low-heat, high-performance mobile processor, Banias is due to ship in 2003.

Fusion continues through Monday. About 4,000 partners are in attendance.

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