Channel Marker

February 22, 2008  11:25 AM

Paul Maritz takes his Pi to EMC

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

EMC is buying Pi Corp., and Pi’s founder, Paul Maritz, will now head EMC’s software-as-a-service effort. The news was reported by The New York Times and others.

And it is extremely interesting news. Maritz was a well-regarded top Microsoft exec for 14 years before taking his act on the road.

In its earlier “about” statement on the company Web site , Pi said its “next generation software environment” was expected to be available in both “free (open source) and licensed forms.” That open source verbiage is now only viewable in a cache. Hmmm.

Note: Pi ‘s environment was going to help “users create, repurpose, store, share and access personal information in novel ways.” (Personal Information = PI. )

Barbara Darrow can be reached at

February 21, 2008  12:27 PM

EC to Microsoft on interop: Show me

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

Prove it.

The European Commission has heard it all before when it comes to Microsoft’s vows to be more interoperable and generally better behaved than in the past. Basically, Microsoft has never won good marks in the “works well with others” category, at least in the eyes of European regulators.

Microsoft’s latest interoperability  efforts — were outlined today by Steve Ballmer, Ray Ozzie, Bob Muglia and Brad Smith on a conference call. And the moves appear to be pretty aggressive.

But the EC appears unmoved.

In a statement posted to its Web site, the EC says it’s heard all this before.

Money quote:

“The European Commission takes note of today’s announcement by Microsoft of its intention to commit to a number of principles in order to promote interoperability with some of its high market share software products. This announcement does not relate to the question of whether or not Microsoft has been complying with EU antitrust rules in this area in the past. The Commission would welcome any move towards genuine interoperability. Nonetheless, the Commission notes that today’s announcement follows at least four similar statements by Microsoft in the past on the importance of interoperability.”

So there.

February 20, 2008  4:04 PM

Microsoft reorgs business solutions

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

We’ve been waiting for shoes to drop over at Microsoft Business Solutions (MBS)—it’s been very quiet. Well, they’re dropping now.

Chris Caren has been named to lead MBS marketing, coming over from Office Business Applications. His direct reports are: Mogens Elsberg (ERP product management and marketing); Brad Wilson (CRM product and marketing); Kim Carnesale (cross-brand Dynamics marketing); Gayle Hoshino (pricing and services product management and marketing); and Paul Prokop (small biz marketing).

MBS vet Tami Reller had done across-the-group marketing but became CFO of the  Windows Platform & Services Group in December.

Terry Petrzelka, CEO of Tectura, a big MBS partner, took the news in stride: “Mogens, Brad, all those people used to report to Tami so this makes sense.:

Hal Howard gets responsibility for all ERP research and development. Darren Laybourn is moving to a new, as-yet-undisclosed Microsoft gig, according to e-mail from an MBS spokeswoman. Dan Brown will now head Dynamics NAV and Mobility teams.

<i>This post was updated Thursday morning with partner quote and Reller background.</i>

<p>Barbara Darrow can be reached at </p>

February 19, 2008  10:34 PM

Microsoft posts new SQL Server 2008 CTP

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

The rolling pre- launches of the Windows 2008 “platform wave” continue apace a week before the February 27 launch event.

Microsoft made what it calls a feature-complete Community Technical Preview of SQL Server 2008 available for download on February 19.

Data compression, improved policy-based management, and integrated text search are all in there, a Microsoft said in e-mail. The first CTP went live in June of 2007.

Last month the company acknowledged (although it buried that tidbit in a blog’s fine print) that final release date for the database had slipped into Q3 2008. It had been promised in the first half of 08.

February 19, 2008  5:04 PM

Capt. Ballmer: Obsessed with hunting Yahoo?

Bcournoyer Brendan Cournoyer Profile: Bcournoyer

moby dickMicrosoft’s relentless pursuit of Yahoo is drawing comparisons to another epic tale of obsession: Herman Melville’s “Moby-Dick.”

The New York Times broke the news today that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer plans a proxy fight to replace Yahoo’s board with Redmond-friendly directors who will approve the company’s $44.6 billion takeover bid. That led “Stupindus,” a reader of tech gossip blog Valleywag, to compare Ballmer to Captain Ahab — the literary whaler fixated on hunting down the mighty Moby-Dick at any cost.

Microsoft made its unsolicited offer three weeks ago, and the more the situation drags on, the more likely it will turn ugly. Todd Bishop, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s Microsoft blogger, warns that a proxy fight or other hostile takeover could alienate the Yahoo employees that Microsoft hopes will lead the way to online search supremacy.

Rob Hof of BusinessWeek’s The Tech Beat blog agrees. Even though a proxy fight would be hundreds of millions of dollars cheaper for Microsoft than raising its bid would be, Hof says the costs of driving away valuable workers and losing time to Google’s market advances could hurt even more.

If Ballmer really is as intent on acquiring Yahoo as Capt. Ahab was with hunting Moby-Dick, it won’t mean good things for Microsoft partners. Some are already questioning the company’s focus and direction, and new products like Windows Server 2008 could suffer without Microsoft’s full backing.

February 18, 2008  10:04 PM

Brokaw to anchor Windows Server 2008 launch

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

Woo hoo. Tom Brokaw’s going to host Microsoft’s Windows 2008 launch aka the “Heroes Happen Here” on February 27.  Brokaw, besides his long-time NBC anchor gig, wrote “the Greatest Generation.”  Get the connection? A server operating system is analogous to World War II vets. Yeah, I can see it now.

Speaking of the big show, one blogger/windbag, who shall go nameless, wrote that a preview of something that will be shown in February actually moved him to tears. What technology could possibly induce sobs (other than the boot-up agony that is Vista)? Who knows and he can’t/won’t say.

That begs the question: Why open his yap at all? The answer: Because he can’t help himself.

February 15, 2008  1:50 PM


Bcournoyer Brendan Cournoyer Profile: Bcournoyer

One of the toughest parts of being an IT writer is deciphering the press releases that vendors send out to pitch their latest products, services and partner programs.

Some are well written, informative and easily understandable. But a lot are heavy on what the Wall Street Journal recently labeled “gobbledygook“: buzzwords, run-on sentences and phrases that no human being would ever utter during the course of normal conversation.

These kinds of press releases may be OK for highly technical audiences, but a lot of times they’re confusing for the end users that channel partners deal with every day. In that spirit, here’s a sampling of some of the week’s worst offenders:

More Than 1000 Customers Select RSA Envision Platform for Business Acceleration, Feb. 12: “Given the modularity and scalability of the RSA enVision solution, the customer base ranges from large global organizations that need to manage security and compliance in complex, global IT environments, to small businesses that value the simple deployment and out-of- the box reporting capabilities.”

Red Hat
JBoss Unveils Technology Futures with New Community Projects, Feb. 14: “These projects offer sophisticated capabilities that enterprises can readily leverage to advance open source middleware into their organizations.”

Kaseya Empowers MSP Customer Success with New Managed Service Resource Program (MSRP), Feb. 12: “Part of the “Marketing Toolkit” element of Kaseya’s emPower Program, a comprehensive set of service offerings and support resources designed to ensure successful implementation of Kaseya’s IT Automation Framework, the company developed the MSRP as a result of its ongoing efforts to “empower” its customers to exceed expectations and effectively transition their business to the managed services model.”

Cisco Fuels Commitment to Small and Medium-Sized Businesses in Asia Pacific with Special Solution Bundles, Feb. 12: “The collaborative platform uses Web 2.0 technology to facilitate dynamic interaction between customers and partners. … The system thus provides an efficient method of communicating with customers and employees to help improve service and increase business agility.”

Bell Micro
Bell Micro teams with Hitachi for SMB storage solutions, Feb. 7: “Hitachi’s SMS 100 is an entry-level storage system designed to fulfill the requirements of SMBs with burgeoning data growth and data protection requirements and enterprises with distributed branch offices looking for simple-to-manage storage offerings that are easy to integrate with the Microsoft Windows platform.”

February 15, 2008  10:08 AM

How’s this for a compelling marketing slogan? ‘Boycott Software Sweatshops’

Heather Clancy Heather Clancy Profile: Heather Clancy

Spoke a couple of weeks back with Raza Imam, managing partner of Adaptive Solutions, a software engineering and custom development firm in Chicago about some rather, eh, extraordinary marketing tactics he is using to draw attention to his company.

Imam, who is 26 years old, noticed that small businesses that he was prospecting were looking more and more at offshore partners and, more important, that they had a lot of questions about offshoring in general. So he decided to create a tongue-in-cheek blog called BoycottSoftwareSweatshops to help address some of the questions he was getting about the benefits of offshoring and to tout his own onshore services to boot.

Typical topics that he has addressed include suggestions about how a small business can get high value, rather than low cost, for their project; possible culture shock that might come from using an offshore company; how to ask tough questions; and how to make sure deadlines are “real.”

Imam will be the first to admit that his firm is in somewhat of a saturated market, but he said that the blog has turned out to be a great source of leads — including inquiries from potential customers in Europe. When a person connects with him because of his blog, it results in a project about 80 percent of the time.

He has these three suggestions for any reseller or IT services provider who is thinking about using a blog to market their company:

  1. Use humor and make jokes. “One of the fastest and most effective ways to see if a person ‘gets’ you is their sense of humor,” Imam says. That’s especially important when you are dealing with a client remotely. So, it’s important for both sides that there is some kind of rapport. Your blog should be about building rapport.
  2. Don’t be afraid to make enemies. If you have an opinion, don’t whitewash it. Blogs are about creating controversy and dialog. You WANT people to take issue with what you write.
  3. Make lemonade. If you or your company has made a mistake, own up to it. Talk about what you’ve learned in the process. “People don’t want you to be a rocket scientist, they just want you to be reliable,” Imam says.

Heather Clancy is an award-winning business journalist and channel communications consultant with SWOT Management Group. You can reach her at

February 14, 2008  2:44 PM

VMware employee attacks Citrix for XenSource buy

Bcournoyer Brendan Cournoyer Profile: Bcournoyer

VMware’s attempts to drive a wedge between virtualization partners Microsoft and Citrix first became public last month, when what was supposed to be an internal memo to VMware’s sales staff leaked online.

Today the feud escalated when Mike DiPetrillo posted on his personal blog a scathing 650-word criticism of Citrix’s XenSource acquisition. identifies DiPetrillo as a VMware industry research and competitive analysis engineer and says his attack is “even worse” than last month’s leaked memo.

In the blog entry, “Citrix Acquires XenSource — Still Scratching My Head,” DiPetrillo says “it’s just crazy” that Citrix spent $500 million for XenSource and claims that XenSource will have lost $13 million for Citrix from the fourth quarter of 2007 through 2008. He also goes after Citrix’s channel strategy:

“In Q3 XenSource announced 1,000 customers. On the call they said they added another 400 customers. Good growth! That puts the total at 1,400 customers. Then came the partner count – 1,817 partners certified to sell XenSource. Hmmm. So now we have 1,817 partners trying to get business from the 1,400 customers that total $2 million in revenue (that’s $1,100 in revenue per partner). Good days to be a Citrix partner.” notes that the leaked memo and DiPetrillo’s blog will “radically change” VMware’s relationship with Citrix, which had been “great” before the XenSource acquisition. And it raises the question of whether DiPetrillo was giving just his opinion or taking part in a larger “guerrilla marketing” campaign by VMware against Citrix:

“While it’s true that this is an employee opinion appearing on a personal blog it’s worth to note that Mike’s position in the company is highly relevant, and that VMware has a very strict policy about personal blogging efforts. It’s hard to believe that this post appeared without being reviewed first (no matter what’s the official position of VMware).”

February 14, 2008  11:07 AM

Microsoft re-shuffles

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

Ah, it’s that time of year. Microsoft is re-shuffling the executive deck with Pieter Knook, the Windows Mobile guy; Mike Sievert, the Vista marketer; and Steven Berkowitz of the black hole that is online services  taking their leaves.

Andy Lees, a corporate vice president in server and tools was tapped to lead the Mobile push, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Microsoft has its work cut out here. Windows Mobile still fails to impress in the picky cell phone/handheld device world where Apple’s iPhone is the cool kid and RIM’s BlackBerry rules among corporate users. Although, if past is precedent, recent embarrassing RIM outages could help Microsoft make up ground.

Winners appear to include Satya Nadella who continues to ascend the ranks. And Bill Veghte’s already-big world gets even bigger as he takes on Windows Live marketing along with his overall Windows business unit duties.

Traditional Microsoft “classic” and MBS partners watch this and wonder — once again — what Microsoft’s priorities are. Beating Google? Beating Apple? Beating RIM? Beating Cisco? Beating IBM? Beating Oracle?

Given the $44.6 billion Microsoft is offering to buy Yahoo, they worry that Google envy has taken over the company to the detriment of its core businesses. Long timers remember Novell’s then-chairman Ray Noorda’s obsession with Microsoft and the affect it had on his company and wondering if there is a karmic turnaround at work here.

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