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For much of the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, executives from CEO
Steve Ballmer down have talked nothing but cloud computing and what Microsoft
is doing to deliver Web-based applications and platforms. Answers for how Microsoft
will work with partners came this morning from new channel chief Jon Roskill,
who laid out many specifics for the aid and support for partners in the channel
transformation.

“The transition that we’re going through now has never been clearer. With
each transition, we’ve gained more opportunity. … We’re going to be successful
in the transition to the cloud, and we’re going to do it together,” Roskill
told thousands of Microsoft partners packed into the Verizon
Center in Washington,
D.C.

Roskill, who recently assumed the post of corporate vice president of
worldwide channels from Allison Watson, gave partners a broad but clear
overview of Microsoft’s vision for an enhanced channel network that supports
partners in the cloud. That strategy has four pillars: business planning,
branding, customer support tools and business enablement tools.

Microsoft is providing partners with business planning tools that will help
develop solutions and strategies for capturing customers in different market
segments (SMB to enterprise). It’s also launching Partner Profitability
Modeler, an online tool for determining the financial position of new cloud
computing opportunities and estimating three-year profit/loss, revenue and
investment costs.

To accelerate cloud computing adoption, Microsoft is providing partners with
its new Cloud Essentials Pack, a one-year subscription for training on
Microsoft cloud solutions, technical and sales support, and licenses for
internal use of cloud applications.

Microsoft is releasing a series of Web-based management tools through which
partners can order and administer cloud products for their customers, as well
as a sales dashboard through which they can monitor account activity.

Microsoft considers partner use of its current generation of applications—on-premises
and cloud—essential to its cloud strategy. Roskill made special note of the
necessity that partners use the latest versions of Microsoft products to both
gain familiarity with them and demonstrate their commitment to customers.

“We want you to be running on our latest software. If we’re all running on
the latest and greatest, you’re going to do a better job going out and
evangelize,” Roskill said.

Microsoft is providing qualified partners with up to 250 internal-use licenses
for BPOS and CRM Online, and will provide
similar offerings for Windows Azure and Intune in the future.  

To demonstrate cloud competency, Microsoft has created the Cloud Partner
Badge for use in branding and marketing solution provider businesses. It’s also
removing “network” from the “Microsoft Partner Network” logo, giving partners
clearer branding association.

Microsoft is developing training and support programs to help partners
better position their businesses for reselling and supporting cloud products,
such as BPOS.

“We believe this is going to allow partners to quickly and effectively
position BPOS solutions as they’re going through trial and deployment phases,
and help customers have a good experience out of the box,” he says.

For support, Microsoft is providing partners with up to 20 hours of free
online support. Qualified Cloud Accelerate Partners will receive up 40 to 160
free telephone technical support in implementations in cloud implementations
involving 500 to 2,500 seats.