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BOSTON—Microsoft will use the second day of its annual Worldwide Partner Conference here to talk about all the opportunity that remains for its partners and how its People-Ready business has broadened the scope of that for them.

In a keynote address to be delivered July 12, Microsoft Server and Tools Marketing Corporate Vice President Andy Lees is expected to talk up the Redmond, Wash., software maker’s People-Ready business and tout how the investments it is making in this will drive opportunities for its industry partners.

In an interview ahead of that keynote address, Steven VanRoekel, the director of the Windows solutions group, told eWEEK that there are still a lot of opportunities out there for partners.

“Traditionally, a large group of people have been chasing a narrow amount of opportunity, but with Microsoft’s software and solution offerings, this has now been significantly opened up,” he said.

Click here to read more about Bob Muglia’s vision for Microsoft’s “People-Ready” business.

Lees will announce a number of initiatives and promotions around the People-Ready business, including the SSA (Security Software Advisor) program, the SQL Server Competitive Migration Program, and the Branch Infrastructure Promotion.

The SSA program is designed to give Microsoft’s security partners and solutions providers an opportunity to earn supplemental revenue when they assist customers with the acquisition and deployment of Microsoft security software.

Eligible partners can receive fees of up to 30 percent of the sale of selected Microsoft security products, while those who are involved in the recommendation process and serve as the primary Microsoft security software implementation partner for new sales of selected ISA (Internet Security and Acceleration) Server and Antigen product SKUs will get an additional 10 percent above their security software adviser fees. This offer expires Feb. 1, 2007, VanRoekel said.

VanRoekel said this is an incentive plan for partners to get competency on the security front.

“We have rebranded our security offerings as Forefront, and this program is a great way for us to hear from partners about that and for them to learn about it,” he said.

The new branch-office promotion—which includes Windows Server 2003 R2, the Microsoft ISA Server, Virtual Server 2005 R2 and System Center System Management Licenses—will be made available at a 10 percent price discount of the total value of the solution.

This will give Windows Server customers policy-based protection for branch-office servers and clients, branch-office connectivity, and internal and external protection for their application infrastructure, services and data, VanRoekel said.

Click here to read more about how Microsoft’s rebranded its enterprise security push as “Forefront.”

Also, given the importance of the SMB (small to midsize business) segment, Lees will announce the availability of the Microsoft Windows Server System Assessment and Deployment Solution for Midsize Businesses, which will help systems integrators reduce non-billable hours in assessing prospective customers’ networks, automate infrastructure deployments and reduce deployment complexities and risks, he said.

And, from Oct. 1, 2006, customers will be able to purchase Windows Server 2003 R2, Datacenter Edition, from Microsoft resellers as well as from OEMs preinstalled on servers with two to 64 processors.

Next Page: Licensing.

The licenses for this will also include the right to run unlimited virtual instances on one server at no additional charge, which can potentially extend the savings customers can realize through server consolidation on the Windows Server platform, VanRoekel said.

Click here to read more about how Microsoft has simplified Windows Server Licensing.

Lees will also talk about the upcoming update to the SQL Server Competitive Migration Program, which will include enhancements for partner solutions, migration tools to help partners transition customers to SQL Server 2005, and give a discount of as much as 50 percent for migrating customers.

Microsoft also recently released a second community technology preview of the SQL Server Migration Assistant for Sybase to help customers and partners migrate from legacy Sybase databases, supplementing the SQL Server Migration Assistant for Oracle.

Microsoft also plans systems management offerings to help value-added resellers and value-added providers offer remote monitoring and IT managed services business to small and midsize organizations, based on the System Center family of products.

To listen to more from Microsoft’s Partner Conference, click here.

This managed services solution, known as System Center Essentials 2007, will be anchored by System Center Operations Manager 2007 and System Center Essentials 2007 technology, which is a new management product built from the ground up to address the IT management needs of midsize businesses.

Partners can deploy this integrated managed solution at their customer infrastructure to provide end-to-end management of the Windows Server System platform, VanRoekel said.

“This combined solution creates a powerful platform with which VARs and VAPs can provide remote software update management, monitoring and troubleshooting of customer environments over a secure Internet connection to provide end-to-end management of the Windows Server System platform,” he said.

In addition, partners can resell licenses to System Center Essentials 2007 as an “attach” offering to their existing server infrastructure practice to increase their incremental revenue.

When asked about reported delays in the shipping schedule for its midmarket solution under development, code-named Centro, VanRoekel said the product was always planned to ship in 2007, but he declined to be more specific, saying that is dependent on when Longhorn Server ships.

Click here to read more about Centro.

The delays in the release of Windows Vista and Office 2007 have not impacted the product development and delivery strategy for SMB solutions, VanRoekel said.

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