Channel Marker

July 15, 2011  4:28 PM

WPC: Parting thoughts from partners

PatOuellette Pat Ouellette Profile: PatOuellette

LOS ANGELES — As the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference wound down on Wednesday, here are some parting thoughts from attendees:

— The Microsoft Lync Solution Incentive Program is big news for Lync partners such as Rob Husted, solutions architect at Cerium Networks.”We are very excited about this, we’ve been asking for it since 2008,” Husted said. “It’s extremely important for us because before we were built on services only and now that we can get rebates from Microsoft, it will increase motivation on our sales team.” Continued »

July 13, 2011  11:39 PM

Making the case for Windows Phone at WPC

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

By Colin Steele, Senior Site Editor

LOS ANGELES – “The Windows you know” is back.

Microsoft used the slogan to push Hyper-V, pointing out that Windows admins won’t have to learn any extra skills to manage the hypervisor. Now the company is making the same case for another product with a high mountain to climb: Windows Phone. Continued »

July 13, 2011  5:33 PM

Microsoft WPC confidential

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

LOS ANGELES–Here are some threads floating around Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference that you won’t see hear in any keynote.

1: If Steve Ballmer’s out, who’s in?

Don’t get me wrong. This partner crowd is not Wall Street — there are no torches and pitchforks. But they are acutely aware of the pressure Ballmer is under as Microsoft tries to navigate this very tricky cloud course. So speculating on who’s next is sort of natural. Continued »

July 12, 2011  1:35 PM

Microsoft WPC 2011: A newbie’s top ten list

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

By Pat Ouellette, Associate Editor

LOS ANGELES — It’s been an eventful 24 hours since I hit the tarmac at LAX Sunday to attend my first Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC). From Dodger Stadium and its army of police officers to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer explaining why his “all in” cloud message at WPC 2010 scared him, there has been a lot of action. And more questions than answers. Here are 10 things that struck me as I made my way through the LA Convention Center and the Staples Center.

1: Do partners have faith in Jon Roskill?
Aside from telling partners to hiss at the mention of VMware, I wonder how convincing Roskill was in his keynote. Unlike, Ballmer, Roskill didn’t seem excited up on the stage. But then again, who could replicate that? Not mentioned was that coming into the show many partners are unhappy with the lack of information about their role (or lack thereof) in Windows Azure and Office 365. Some of that will be addressed Tuesday, or so we are promised. But if I’m a partner struggling to make ends meet and hear about how, for  very dollar Microsoft makes, I can make $8.70 or that 58% of partners are “in the cloud,” I have to wonder.

2: Steve Ballmer’s partner love.

Steve Ballmer sure can command a room. He “loves partners” and though 95% of Microsoft’s business comes from partners, he says he has no clue what the other 5% is. This drew applause and makes me even more interested to hear what Microsoft’s plan will be for partners with Azure and Office 365. Ballmer said Tuesday will be all about the cloud.
3: What exactly will Bing do for partners?
Ballmer acknowledged that Bing is pretty low on partner priority lists, but said that with the new Yahoo! Integration partners will use the search browser more over the next few years. Stefan Weitz, Microsoft’s Bing search director and a dead ringer for Professor Jeremiah Lasky from Saved by the Bell: The College Years, did a detailed Bing’s non-Google-like search capabilities. But it’s unclear to me how using Open Table to make dinner reservations on your browser will end up making partners money.

4: The long and winding road from Windows XP through Windows 7 to Windows 8.
Although, partners are having moderate success with Windows 7 migrations, Tami Reller, corporate vice president of Windows and Windows Live, said partners must move customers through Windows 7 to get to Windows 8. This may be no easy feat. Windows 8’s touch screen and application capabilities are nice – downright iPhone like — but are they enough to get customers to migrate again in a year or two of taking on Window 7?

5: How will Skype be able to take on Google Voice? And what about Lync?
Ballmer said that along with Skype, Microsoft Lync is the “Kinect of the enterprise.” How exactly does this fit into Microsoft’s strategy and where are the non-consumer opportunities? And how does this not conflict with Microsoft Lync?

6: Why so much time on XBOX Kinect?
A Kinect SDK is available for business apps and demo’d its new voice command wireless capabilities (think Apple TV without a remote). But why so much time? Kinect is cool and could clearly find business application but It seemed that partners had a lot more questions about profitability and certification requirements for Microsoft Partner Network competencies.

7: Missing Smashmouth.
Because of my flight out of LA on Wednesday, I’m inadvertently skipping out on seeing Smash Mouth. Needless to say, fifth-grade me would be pissed.

8: Mixed messages on Windows Phone

As for phone OSes, “we’ve gone from very small to very small, but it’s been one hell of a year,” Ballmer said on Windows Phone share. His graphic read “9/10 people love their Windows Phone” and that Gartner predicted Windows Phone will be No. 2 in the market come 2015. Yeah, that report raised a LOT of eyebrows given the huge lead that Android and iPhone enjoy and the perception that Microsoft bought its way into a big Nokia deal. The fact that developers and VARs still aren’t sure about the phone strategy doesn’t help. As Colin Steele wrote, partners are weary of Microsoft’s mobile strategy.

9: Steve Ballmer’s scary cloud message

He said that last year’s “we’re all in” cloud message was scary. Yes it was—for partners — because it meant that they needed to decide whether they’re on board as well. He was nervous that some wouldn’t be and it’s clear from show attendees that there is basis for his worry. Despite the 58% number tossed out during Roskill’s keynote, I bet he’s still scared because many partners still haven’t wrapped their heads around Office 365 and Azure and are not happy about the revenue model that’s been presented thus far.

10: How many partners will actually email Ballmer? And will he respond?

“As partners go, so goes Microsoft,” Ballmer noted as he wrapped up. He told partners how to reach him via e-mail with questions.  He does this every year. I sure would love to get a look at those messages.

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July 11, 2011  10:19 PM

Power to converge: IT networks + building networks

Heather Clancy Heather Clancy Profile: Heather Clancy

I’m in the process of wrapping up a story for about the burgeoning market for solutions and services in data center infrastructure management, or as some are starting to call it, DCIM. (Yay, another acronym!) Look for that piece to publish about one week once I wrap my brain around writing it.

Continued »

July 11, 2011  9:25 PM

More HP moves: DeWitt, DiFranco get new gigs

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

There’s more moving and shaking at Hewlett-Packard. Today the company named Stephen Dewitt, formerly head of the Personal Systems Group to SVP and GM of HP’s closely-watched WebOS global business.

Stephen DiFranco, is stepping into Dewitt’s slot at PSG. DiFranco will continue to lead HP’s Solution Partner Organization (SPO) as the company seeks a replacement. HP recruited DiFranco out of Lenovo early last year.

Jon Rubinstein led the webOS effort (once known as the Palm business unit). Rubinstein, formerly of Apple, is now SVP for product innovation in PSG.

All three of these execs report to Todd Bradley.

DiFranco said he will still keep his hand in the HP channel. “I will still be responsible for the channel in my new role…and I’m excited about that because it showcases how important the partner program is to HP and over the last year … we’ve done a great job working better with partners,” he said in an interview Monday afternoon.

HP partner Rick Chernick, CEO of Camera Corner Connecting Point in Green Bay, said the promotion is well deserved.

“When DiFranco came in last year, face it, he had big shoes to fill [from the Adrian Jones era] and a lot of us didn’t know what to think but he proved himself a friend to the channel.”

Chernick would like to see HP pick an insider for this job as opposed to going outside again. “That would be a nice vote of confidence to the existing organization, MIke Parrottino, a vp in PSG would be a good choice, Chernick said.

 [Editor’s note: This story was updated Tuesday morning with DiFranco and Chernick quotes.]

Let us know what you think about the story; email Barbara Darrow, Senior News Director at

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July 11, 2011  8:37 PM

Microsoft WPC 2011 by the numbers

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

By Colin Steele

LOS ANGELES — Here’s a numerical look at some of the factoids tossed around at today’s Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference keynote:

12,000: Partners in attendance
640,000: Microsoft partner organizations around the world
15 million: Employees working for those partners
580 billion: Dollars in revenue those partners generated this past year
19: Where the Microsoft partner ecosystem would rank, if it were a country, on the list of each country’s GDP (between Indonesia and Switzerland)
58: Percent of Microsoft partners working with the cloud today
41,000: Partners that identify themselves as primarily cloud partners

Let us know what you think about the story; email Barbara Darrow, Senior News Director at

Check out more IT channel news on and follow us on Twitter!

July 6, 2011  4:55 PM

Gartner revises 2011 IT spending prediction upward

Heather Clancy Heather Clancy Profile: Heather Clancy

As promised, a bit of an update about anticipated IT spending trends through the rest of this year. Market researcher Gartner said late last week that it is predicting growth of 7.1 percent worldwide for IT spending in 2011, which is a faster pace than the 5.6 percent growth predicted by IDC late in June for U.S. IT spending. Continued »

July 4, 2011  9:34 PM

Microsoft, ‘the F word’ and top ten questions for WPC

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

By Pat Ouellette and Barbara Darrow, ITChannel Staff

VARs heading into the  Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference next week have a lot of questions for the software giant. They want clarification of its cloud message and they need to hear just exactly why it is they should keep signing on to the Microsoft Partner Network.  But those are just a couple of the questions. Here’s an unscientific sampling of what they want to hear about at WPC 2011 in Los Angeles.

1: Will Microsoft use the “F word?”
Microsoft explored, then buried, the idea of creating  “franchise” partners–at least in the Microsoft Dynamics business solutions world. But some expect the idea to resurface at WPC, albeit under a different name. Turns out the “F word” has a lot of knotty tax repercussions attached that wouldn’t help anyone. The idea, though, is to figure out a way that a raft of small but skillful Microsoft Dynamics VARs could actually profit selling, implementing and supporting Microsoft Dynamics-based solutions.

Continued »

June 30, 2011  2:26 PM

Oracle stacks the Exadata deck with Exastack, VAR rebates

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

For big software companies these days, it’s about stacks.

The latest is Oracle Exastack. This is Oracle’s effort to get third-party software vendors to optimize their applications to run on Oracle’s Exadata and Exalogic data center appliances. Oracle, trying to juice Exadata and Exalogic hardware sales, Continued »

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