Microsoft Cloud Strategy: New Channel Chief Outlines Transformation Plan

By Lawrence Walsh

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.


This article was originally published on 2010-07-13