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Microsoft is rolling out a series of "Services
Ready" offerings to its top services reseller channel partners to help
them get up to speed quickly on technologies such as virtualization, unified
communications and desktop deployment.

The new services, unveiled yesterday, will cost, however. Partners will spend
$20,000 per technology services offering. But Microsoft contends the investment
is worth the price for services reseller channel partners targeting customers
in those topic areas.

The program is available only to Microsoft Gold partners. The fee-based program
gives partners access to the "Services Ready" materials for a
particular topic area. Microsoft says these repeatable offerings and best
practices were developed by Microsoft Services during early consulting
engagements with Microsoft customers and include pre-sales tools, and technical
and operational guidance, that Microsoft says can help partners accelerate time
to market, increase operational efficiencies and improve the quality of their delivery
to customers.

“You want to know these things before you go into engagement and not learn them
on the fly,” Wayne Prentiss, director of partner programs and strategy for
Microsoft Services, tells Channel Insider. “If you can speed up your learning
and get up that curve faster, it gives you an advantage.”

Partners who are pursuing such engagements would likely create this kind of
professional methodology on their own, says Prentiss, so these new offerings
save them the time to ramp their own consulting practices on these services.

So far Microsoft has seen the highest level of interest in the virtualization
offering, which focuses on Microsoft’s HyperV technology, and in the unified
communications offering. Other offerings are identity and security, systems
management, desktop platform, portals and collaboration, search, deployment
services, and customer care framework.

Microsoft has 15,000 Gold Partners around the world, and currently 120 are
taking advantage of the new services offering, according to Prentiss.