Channel Marker

March 25, 2008  9:01 AM

Dude, you’re migratin’ to Vista

Bcournoyer Brendan Cournoyer Profile: Bcournoyer

Dell has announced its own Windows Vista migration tool, joining a growing list of vendors looking to capitalize on the complexity of deploying the new OS.

Dell calls its offering the Client Migration Solution and claims it can “reduce migration costs by up to 62%.” It automates much of the Vista deployment process and addresses the problems of application compatibility and bandwidth usage. The target audience is businesses with at least 2,500 seats.

Symantec has been using Vista migrations as the main selling point for its Altiris Application Compatibility Suite for more than a year now. And last week Microsoft bought Kidaro, a desktop virtualization vendor whose technology will allow users to run incompatible software on Vista machines.

Even with this month’s release of SP1, Vista complaints are still coming in strong. It remains to be seen whether or not this new spate of deployment tools will help nudge XP users closer to Vista, but at least the products will be available when Vista migrations begin en masse.

March 24, 2008  10:47 AM

Does Vista need an exorcist?

Bcournoyer Brendan Cournoyer Profile: Bcournoyer

Microsoft resellers had been looking forward to the release of Windows Vista SP1, hoping it would spur more customers to upgrade from XP.

exorcistBut now, just a week after SP1 debuted, that doesn’t seem to be the case. In fact, SP1 may be piling on to the laundry list of problems that users have experienced with Vista. The latest example comes via CIO Today, which reports that the University of Pennsylvania has advised staff and students to stay away from Vista SP1 because of driver incompatibility problems.

Hardware and software incompatibility has been one of the main reasons that users have shied away from Vista, and resellers anticipated that SP1 would fix those problems. But judging by UPenn’s reaction, and the hundreds of negative comments on the Windows Vista Blog, it appears those problems are alive and well. CIO Today points out some of the best comments, including these words by Microsoft News Tracker’s David Hunter:

“What Microsoft’s Vista operating system really needs is an exorcist given the amount of unnatural occurrences plaguing it.”

Vista, thanks to its history of problems, is now at the point where any negative publicity gets the attention, completely overshadows the positive reviews that are out there and draws comparisons to graphic, disturbing horror films. That will continue to make it hard for Microsoft partners looking to sell Vista … unless they also practice exorcisms on the side.

March 24, 2008  7:06 AM

Microsoft touts updated Response Point

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

If you’ve ever worked for a small company, you know how painful office telephony can be. Case in point: At my last gig, I inherited the desk and phone of another reporter who had left the company.

No one in that office knew how to change the voicemail options and phone calls to the telephony provider went unreturned for days. Finally I  had to call the reporter — now with a competitor — and beg him for his password so that I could get into voice mail and change the configuration. Luckily, he was a mensch.

Sadly, that is not an exception to the rule when it comes to small businesses.

 Microsoft Response Point is supposed to remedy that situation by making it a no-brainer to move extensions around and reprogram options. 

This week, the company will tout Response Point Service Pack 1 that will  add outward-facing VoIP capabilities to the year-old small business phone system.  

The full Response Point system — Microsoft software bundled with D-Link, Quantas or Aastra hardware — plugs into a company’s LAN and from that point promises easy and flexible phone management.

It can work with traditional analog or VoIP lines or a combination, says Jason Harrison, president of Harrison Technology Consulting, a Nashville, N.C.-based small business specialist. Harrison’s been a fan since the inaugural release.

Microsoft will talk up SP 1 at its annual Small Business Summit this week. SP1 should be available as a download to existing customers and make its way into new hardware this summer.

The product competes with small business phone systems from Avaya, Digium and others.

One Microsoft talking point will be integration with Outlook email and Business Contact Manager. In theory, that will enable it to suck up all a user’s contact information and the user can then, click a button, speak the name of the client, and the system will place the call. It uses the company’s Speech Server technology.

The outbound-VoIP capabilities means companies can easily assign new phone numbers (and discard them if needed.)  The previous release has internal VoIP capabilities and some partners say SP1 is adding features that had been promised in the initial release.

The target market is companies with up to 50 employees.  Harrison says the outbound VoIP-essentially direct SIP trunking is done within the server

“The fact that it works with VoIP and non-VoIP lines is a plus for smaller customers who may want to try out VoIP,” Harrison said. For his company the product opens up all sorts of telephony-oriented doors

“This is an area we haven’t been involved with before. This product lets customers try VoIP and add it as they want,” Harrison noted. 

He sees integration work opportunities with ResponsePoint, Outlook with Business Contact Manager, and Microsoft Office Accounting. With that amalgam a partner can create system in which an “inbound call prompts a popup toast that identifies the customer from caller ID, Outlook does a cross check, and you click on the toast to bring up all the data about that customer or prospect,” Harrison said.

The software also will give D-Link partners an entrée into voice applications.

Hardware/software solutions from all three partners list for about $2,500 for base unit and four or five desktop phones with slight variations depending on the OEM partner.

Barbara Darrow can be reached at

March 19, 2008  11:04 AM

Hyper-V gets closer

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

Microsoft says it delivered a “feature complete” release candidate of Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V today.

The RC has been qualified for guest OSes including Windows Server 2003 SP2, SUSE Enterprise Linux Server 10 SP1; Windows Vista SP1, and Windows XP SP3.

Host server Oses now include 64-bit versions of Windows Server 2008 standard, enterprise and data center editions in some languages (English, German).

Microsoft is banking big that its virtualization game plan will take share from market leader VMware and also bring new users into the virtualization fold.

Microsoft says it’s on track to deliver Hyper-V by August.

Barbara Darrow can be reached at

March 15, 2008  8:27 PM

Tech Data wants you to step outside

Heather Clancy Heather Clancy Profile: Heather Clancy

Chances are at least SOME portion of your business comes from wireless networking at this point, but I’d bet most of it is of the indoor variety. Well, Tech Data is throwing down the gauntlet to some of the specialized wireless distributors through its new relationship with BIG Wireless, which sells various outdoor wireless technology and services.

The deal, which points back to Tech Data’s Wireless Specialized Business Unit, will let Tech Data VARs “purchase, brand and resell” BIG Wireless’s services. The company’s specialty is outdoor wireless for municipalities, corporate campuses or universities. These include wireless site surveys, point-to-point path studies, voice/video over wireless, GPS location, Federal Communications Commission licensing compliance and so on. Many of the more obscure requirements for outdoor wireless that a traditional solution provider might not have been able to invest in. If the reseller chooses, they can brand BIG Wireless’ services as their own.

How much business is in outdoor wireless? My gut is that it’s going to be sort of like Wi-Fi adoption: It will creep up in adoption for the right reason, it helps people do their jobs better. There will be some debates over format of course (ala the WiMax specification I wrote about in January), which is all the more reason why you might choose to team up with a company like BIG rather than investing in your technical skills right now.

Heather Clancy is a widely published business journalist and strategic channel communications consultant with SWOT Management Group. You can reach her at

March 14, 2008  4:25 PM

And the new Rauline Ochs is…

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

Word out of Redwood Shores is that Oracle has tapped the new channel chief for North America.

Make that channel chiefs. Plural.  Apparently it takes not one but two men to fill Rauline Ochs’ shoes: Tyler Prince and John Gray are dividing up Ochs’ responsibilities.

Both had reported to Ochs.

What’s different here is Oracle has gone back to its applications-and-technology segmentation. Prince will handle the ever-growing applications and the relevant partners. Gray gets technology, aka the database and tools partner kingdom.

An Oracle spokeswoman said she could not confirm the news, which came from sources close to the software giant.

Ochs left the company three months ago for a new gig at Safeco. Then, just two weeks ago, her worldwide counterpart Doug Kennedy took off for Microsoft. Judson Althoff replaced Kennedy.

[Note: An Oracle spokeswoman confirmed the Prince and Gray promotions on Friday night. Prince was previously group vice president of strategic SIs, industry and Fusion middleware alliance. Gray was group vice president, North American ISVs. It was unclear what their new titles would be. The changes were announced internally on Thursday.]

Barbara Darrow can be reached at

March 14, 2008  9:53 AM

My trip to Microsoft Convergence 2008

Bcournoyer Brendan Cournoyer Profile: Bcournoyer

This week I went to Orlando for Convergence 2008, Microsoft’s big annual conference for its enterprise applications customers and partners. We learned that Microsoft is planning a hosted ERP service after all, and Dynamics CRM 4.0 has several features that partners think will help them make more sales.

I spent most of my time reporting for those stories in the Expo, a huge room inside the Orange County Convention Center where ISVs, hosting providers and other Microsoft partners showed off how they take advantage of Microsoft Dynamics products.

Every partner had a booth where they gave product demos, sales pitches and the like. But some booths stood out for their creativity — creativity best described through pictures. The first booth I stopped at belonged to LaGarde, an e-commerce solution provider. They had one of those contraptions where you step inside and have 30 seconds to grab as much money out of the air as you can.

I only managed to grab three bucks, and I couldn’t even keep it. Stupid journalism ethics.

Across the aisle was Idera, a SQL Server security company with a wheel to spin for prizes.

I won a hat. And I kept it.

Later on, I got to play golf (with Tenrox, a workforce management ISV) and blackjack (with Cincom, a business process ISV).

The partners in the Expo also showed their creativity through the promotional trinkets they gave away. When I got back to my hotel room and sorted through it all, I found some nice sporting gear …

… some toys …

“Come here often?”

“Yo.” “Yo.”

… and somehow I ended up with a shot glass, a pill bottle and soap on a rope.

Hey, what kind of conference is this anyway?!?

On a more serious note, next week will feature a podcast on the differences among on-premise Dynamics CRM 4.0, partner-hosted Dynamics CRM 4.0 and the Microsoft-hosted Dynamics CRM Live. Check the home page or news page for updates!

March 13, 2008  4:38 PM

This elephant won’t dance

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

Few figures in tech are more revered than Lou Gerstner, the oft-proclaimed savior of IBM Corp. When he entered the scene, a demoralized IBM had long lost the luster of technology-and-service leadership.

When he left, IBM appeared refurbished. Some argue that the big come-back had more to do with ruthless-if-well-needed cuts  than any particular vision, but still.

Gerstner himself took credit for teaching that elephant to dance.

But Gerstner’s golden touch is being questioned in the wake of Carlyle Capital’s dramatic and much-publicized meltdown. Part and parcel of the Carlyle Group, home to business-and-government stars, the Carlyle Capital investment firm may soon turn its keys over to creditors.

In a March 13 statement Carlyle Capital  said that despite working diligently with lenders “the Company has not been able to reach a mutually beneficial agreement to stabilize its financing. The Company expects that its lenders will promptly take possession of substantially all of the Company’s remaining assets.”

Carlyle Group’s chairman is none other than Lou Gerstner.

As Fortune put it: “It’s a steep fall for a division of the once invincible-seeming Carlyle, which has long populated its corridors with luminaries like former Secretary of State James Baker and longtime IBM chief Louis Gerstner.’

The TimesOnline chimes in with: “The apparent overnight meltdown of a $22 billion (£10.9 billion) credit fund is a huge embarrassment for Carlyle Group, the US private equity firm with unrivalled links to big business and global politics.”

Barbara Darrow can be reached at

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

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