Channel Marker

March 11, 2008  4:19 PM

Oracle news won’t spoil Microsoft party

Bcournoyer Brendan Cournoyer Profile: Bcournoyer

ORLANDO, FLA. — Microsoft’s good friends over at Oracle released the new edition of Oracle CRM On Demand today — conspicuous timing, as Microsoft Convergence 2008 this week highlights Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 and Dynamics CRM Live.

Oracle’s move drew some rolling eyes and chuckles from Microsoft partners here today. Most see Oracle trailing Microsoft in the race to catch atop the hosted CRM market.

“, that is really our only competition now,” said Linda Rose, founder and CEO of RoseASP in San Diego.

Ravi Agarwal, CEO of groupSPARK, a Microsoft hosting partner in Burlington, Mass., agreed. Hosted CRM targets SMBs, but Oracle is not strong with those customers, he said.

“It will take them time to figure out the market,” he said. will be reporting live from Convergence this week, with all the news on CRM, ERP and any other TLAs you can think of — until it gets to be TMI.

March 11, 2008  11:42 AM

Follow the mesh

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

Life of BrianOld-time PC software players used to kid about Microsoft’s ability to create buzz.

 Whenever a competitor came out with something nifty, Microsoft would crank its code-name generator, priming the pump for a deluge of stories about how Microsoft ‘s newer technology, just around the corner, would kick everyone else’s stuff  to the curb.

The more things change …. Last week at Mix 08, Ray Ozzie talked about “mesh” or “synchromesh” which connotes the concept of Web-connected devices and people. The term mesh—in the context of “the social mesh” or “device mesh” was used 14 times in his keynote. You can count it yourself on the keynote transcript here. (At least he refrained from the “S” word although tools guy Scott Guthrie broke out “super” a few times.)

“We need to think of the Web as a hub, the hub of our social experiences, our social mesh, the hub of our technology experiences, our device mesh,” said Ozzie. He admitted that this was not exactly new news. But he persisted in the mesh metaphor.

Money quote:

“Related to the device mesh, this first principle also recognizes that we’re living in a world where the number and diversity of devices is on the rise. From phones and PCs to smart TVs, DVRs, media centers, game consoles, digital picture frames, pocket media players, digital cameras and camcorders, recently, home servers, car entertainment and navigation systems — the list just goes on and on and on and it grows every CES. Until we believe that the quaint concept that we’ve kind of grown up with of one PC, of my computer, will give way to the notion of a personal collection of connected devices brought together by the Web. At the principle level, we believe that the Web will be used across all our offerings as a hub to simplify your life in managing and using a world of devices. “


“Office Live will extend PC-based Office scenarios into the social mesh, expanding the classic notion of personal productivity into the realm of the interpersonal, again, through social mechanisms such as the linking, sharing, and tagging of documents.”

Voila: the Microsoft software-plus-services take on software-as-a-service.

It’s nice to hear the vision thing. But once again, it seems Microsoft is puffing out vapor.
More Microsoft mesh coverage here. And here.

The whole scenario reeks of the “follow the sandal, follow the gourd” scene out of The Life Of Brian. Monty Python fans will know what I mean. For the rest of you, hit Netflix, it’ll be worth it.

Barbara Darrow can be reached at

March 11, 2008  10:04 AM

VMware: The Patriots of virtualization?

Bcournoyer Brendan Cournoyer Profile: Bcournoyer

Is VMware in trouble? Consider:

Last week, the server virtualization market share leader’s stock price closed at $51.45. The last time the stock was that low: Aug. 14, 2007, the day of VMware’s IPO.

Patriots 18-1A Yankee Group analyst recently compared VMware to the New England Patriots, who got off to a perfect start but couldn’t win the ultimate prize. Those comments appeared in a Network World story analyzing the threats to VMware’s dominance. Judging by the length of that article (2,500 words plus), there are a whole lotta threats.

And, as I reported today, there’s turmoil in VMware’s partner program. Complaints about channel conflict, poor communication and shrinking margins are not what VMware needs right now. Facing its toughest challenge yet, Microsoft’s Hyper-V, VMware will have to rely on partners to recruit new customers and keep existing ones happy. That won’t happen if the partners themselves aren’t happy.

VMware just announced its first true partner conference, Partner Xchange 2008, which will combine the pre-VMworld Partner Day and the annual TSX partner training into one three-day event. It will be interesting to see what VMware does between now and then to address partners’ problems, or the company could have some explaining to do come May in San Diego.

March 10, 2008  12:54 PM

PR-mageddon! for the week of March 7

Bcournoyer Brendan Cournoyer Profile: Bcournoyer

Just in case the public relations buzzwords haven’t been jumping out at you enough, PR-mageddon! this week unveils a new feature: bold buzzwords. Enjoy …

Microsoft Launches Document Interoperability Initiative, March 6: “The launch of this initiative is an important step in Microsoft’s commitment to implement a set of strategic changes in its technology and business practices to expand interoperability through the implementation of its interoperability principles. The Document Interoperability Initiative focuses on bringing vendors together to promote interoperability between document format implementations through testing and refining those implementations, creation of format implementation test suites, and the creation of templates designed for optimal interoperability between different formats.”

SAP and IDS Scheer Partner to Bring Customers Easier Modeling and Visualization of Enterprise Services, March 4: “Users will have visibility into a variety of scenarios including the harmonization and standardization of heterogeneous IT landscapes and the implementation of specific process innovations enabled by enterprise services.”

Oracle Strengthens Content Security, Enhances Enterprise Content Management Platform, March 3: “Oracle also delivered several new features to Oracle Universal Content Management including: Support for BPEL-based (Business Process Execution Language) processes, or standards-based integrations and processes, which helps streamline the integration of document workflows and enterprise applications to enable organizations to more effectively use enterprise content, improve efficiency and accelerate business processes.”

Symantec Delivers Endpoint Encryption Offering to Help Protect Sensitive Information, March 3: “Designed to help customers protect sensitive information and mitigate the increasing risks of data loss, Symantec Endpoint Encryption offers scalable, centralized management for easy deployment and administration. Customers may also leverage existing tools through synchronization with Microsoft Active Directory for group policy management.”

March 9, 2008  5:06 AM

Surprise! CDW research shows small businesses worried about IT spending

Heather Clancy Heather Clancy Profile: Heather Clancy

Yes, here I am, with more depressing economic news for those of you out there in IT services land who count on small businesses as your bread-and-butter clients.

CDW’s latest CDW IT Monitor shows that only 29 percent of small businesses expect their IT budgets to increase over the next six months. That compares with 53 percent of all the businesses responding to the IT solution provider’s bimonthly poll of IT decision makers, which encompasses the opinions at least 1,000 participants.

Still, the overall index stands at 73 for February, which is an increase from 69 last December.

In his analysis of the data, CDW Vice President Mark Gambill says that the lower scores for the small-business sector could be tied to the fact that small businesses generally see less perceived value in their IT investments than do midsize or large companies. The results show that 39 percent of small businesses believe that IT helps their bottom line, compared with almost 80 percent of the larger companies. That’s a big gap and one that VARs need to work on.Here’s a site where you can poke around more at CDW’s research.

March 7, 2008  10:49 PM

Done deal: Oracle’s Kennedy is now VP, Microsoft Dynamics Partners

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

It’s official — at least within Microsoft walls — Doug Kennedy is aboard as vice president, Microsoft Dynamics Partners.

Kennedy was senior vice president of worldwide alliances and channels at Oracle, a Microsoft rival in databases and, increasingly, in business apps.

At Microsoft, Kennedy will report to Klause Holse Andersen. As of Friday afternoon, Microsoft remained mum on the news, at least to outsiders.

In an interview in New York on Friday afternoon, MBS corporate vice president Kirill Tatarinov refused comment on Kennedy’s change of status. “We have nothing to announce,” Tatarinov stated. Not once, not twice, but three times. You can’t say I didn’t try.

But later Friday an internal Microsoft email that surfaced, confirmed that Kennedy is, in fact, the new “Microsoft Dynamics Partner Lead” and that Steve Malme is stepping down from that position.

It’ll be interesting to see if Kennedy appears at Convergence, the big MBS customer and partner event in Orlando next week.

One thing is sure, Stephen Elop, the incoming head of the overall Microsoft Business Division, will be in Orlando for the big ‘do, meeting with customers and partners. Elop is taking over that position from Microsoft veteran Jeff Raikes, who is retiring.

That Elop will be on the scene in Orlando was something Tatarinov did share. Also, CEO Steve Ballmer will be on hand to assure the 10,000 attendees that business apps remain a priority for Microsoft even as it pursues its $40-billion-plus Yahoo bid and seeks to wrest Web search-and-ad dominance from Google.

Barbara Darrow can be reached at

March 7, 2008  3:27 PM

Microsoft has no hosted ERP plans, exec says

Bcournoyer Brendan Cournoyer Profile: Bcournoyer

Hosted enterprise resource planning (ERP) software is not in Microsoft’s future, according to one exec.

Microsoft offers hosted customer relationship management (CRM) software through its Dynamics CRM Live service, but corporate vice president Michael Park just told me that Microsoft has no plans to do the same with ERP.

“The architecture we’re making the bet on is CRM,” he said. “With ERP, we’ve got a good number of partners who are hosting it for us.”

Microsoft partners told us that the company has been floating the idea of hosted ERP, but it looks like that’s dead — at least for the time being. Park did leave some wiggle room, saying Microsoft will “adjust course” if the ERP market changes.

Some Microsoft partners have been worried that Dynamics CRM Live will compete with their own CRM offerings, so at least they won’t face a similar threat with ERP any time soon.

March 6, 2008  5:33 PM

Oracle’s Kennedy heads to Microsoft

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow


Not only is Oracle’s worldwide channel chief flying the coop, he’s swooping into the nest of the enemy.

Doug Kennedy has taken an executive position at the Redmond, Wash. software giant, several sources close to Oracle have confirmed.

He will be working in Microsoft’s business-applications push, one source said. [Friday morning update: Kennedy has taken a General Manager position within Microsoft’s applications group, a well-placed source said. Microsoft has not returned calls for comment. An Oracle spokeswoman confirmed Kennedy’s exit but said she was unaware of his plans.]

In some ways, timing could not be better from Redmond’s point of view: Microsoft Convergence, the annual Microsoft Business Solutions user conference, kicks off next Tuesday in Orlando. Microsoft will use the show to play up its CRM Live push and will trot out Steve Ballmer and Kirill Tatarinov, corporate vice president of Microsoft Business Solutions for the assembled masses of MBS partners and customers.

In many ways luring Kennedy is a great move for Microsoft and logistically it’s a no-brainer for Kennedy himself, who lives in the Seattle area. Kennedy was senior vice president of worldwide alliances and channels and reported directly to Oracle president Charles Phillips.

That Kennedy left just months after his North Americas counterpart Rauline Ochs exited tweaked some Oracle partners. Ochs, however, went to Safeco, a large and long-time Oracle customer whereas Kennedy crossed enemy lines.

One insider said the executive suite at Oracle is humming. “There’s talk about a non-compete. They’re p@#$@d,” this source said.

Kennedy who spent 16 years at Oracle, witnessed first hand the vendor’s multi-multi-multi-billion-dollar applications arms race during which it bought PeopleSoft (which had just bought J.D. Edwards); Siebel Systems, Retek, i-Flex and other companies.

Fasten your seatbelts. This could get bumpy.

Barbara Darrow can be reached at

March 6, 2008  2:55 PM

Ballmer the baller?

Bcournoyer Brendan Cournoyer Profile: Bcournoyer

Steve Ballmer must really want to buy something big.Steve Ballmer jersey

With a potential Yahoo acquisition still up in the air, the Microsoft CEO has turned his attention to the hometown basketball team, the Seattle SuperSonics. The Seattle Times reported today that Ballmer is part of a local investment group trying to buy the Sonics from owner Clay Bennett.

Bennett, who is about as popular in Seattle as Ballmer is at Yahoo headquarters, wants to move the Sonics to Oklahoma City. Ballmer’s group would keep the team in Seattle and chip in $150 million to renovate its arena — an act of “heroism” greater than any Microsoft product launch.

The plans of Ballmer’s group are far from a slam dunk, as Bennett has said the team is not for sale. But with the help of angry fans, Ballmer’s group could make a full-court press on Bennett. And that just might be enough to eek out a last-second buzzer-beater for the city of Seattle.

March 5, 2008  9:38 PM

Oracle gets new worldwide channel chief in Althoff

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

Big channel changes atop Oracle.

Doug Kennedy is leaving the database-and-biz-apps giant and Judson Althoff will replace him as Oracle’s global channel chief, several sources confirmed.

Update: Oracle’s Kennedy takes off for Microsoft.

The news went out internally Wednesday in an email from Oracle prez Charles Phillips.

That succession may be settled but it also leaves one key  roll —  North Americas channel chief  — unfilled. Rauline Ochs left that post to join Safeco late last year. Some well-placed Oracle sources expected Althoff to take on Ochs role.

Althoff has been with Oracle for nearly a decade, spearheading its relationship with Dell, HP, CDW, and distributors Ingram Micro and Tech Data. Some partners say that his rapport with Dell and CDW (both viewed as near-demons by VAR partners) may make him an odd backer for value-added partners.

Others say that Althoff’s direct line to Phillips could actually help such partners gain leverage in their dealings with the vendor. Ochs had reported to Keith Block, the head of North American sales. Oracle has a history of tense vendor-partner relationships and now that it has bought tens of billions of dollars worth of business apps expertise, partners want to see further improvement in channel relationships.

“If he’s been working with Ingram and Tech Data, he gets the VAR partner role now,” said one long-time Oracle partner.

One contendor to replace Ochs as senior vice president of North America  alliances and channels, is Tyler Prince, who is now vice president of that same group, said an Oracle source.

One longtime Oracle partner, apprised of Kennedy’s departure, was bemused. “I find it curious that within such a short time span both the worldwide and the North American channel execs have left,” he noted.

More background on Ochs and Kennedy here.

Barbara Darrow can be reached at

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