What impact will Microsoft's new direction have on your business?

I have been in Denver attending the WWPC for the past two days and have sat through many interesting keynotes and business sessions from Microsoft learning more about their plans for new offerings and the changing landscape of how to partner with Microsoft.

 This year the message came through a little differently.  The old message of Microsoft bringing new products and software offerings to channel partners who would then market, implement, create and deploy strategies around building value for their end client while being able to make a specific profit margin was not the underlying theme.  It was still there, to an extent; however this message was far behind the message of new direct hosted service offerings that are being tested and will be rolled out in the near term.

The 3 day event was created to bring Microsoft partners together, network with one another, build strength and trust among groups and learn how to “knock the ball out of the park” and make more money as Steve Ballmer  phrased in his keynote address today.

With Microsoft’s announcements earlier this year surrounding building out their $500 million Data Center in San Antonio and their most recent announcements of purchasing another 2 Data Center facilities from Savvis I don’t think it should be any surprise to anyone that they would announce a direct hosted service offering around all of the major product offerings???

So where does this put you and your business?  If you offer hosted exchange, sharepoint, Dynamics, CRM the list goes on… should you feel the need to re-evaluate your business model, or should you be worried?

Allison Watson, corporate VP of Worldwide partner group tried to reinforce Microsoft’s partner centered focus around the new offerings.  “Microsoft remains committed to creating profitable opportunities for our partners. At the Worldwide Partner Conference we will unveil new partner strategies to help ensure that both Microsoft and its partners continue to anticipate and profit from upcoming business opportunities in an evolving IT industry. We continue our focus on building People Ready Businesses, and will share more opportunities for our partners to go to market with that approach.”

When asked about how revenues would be derived for current and new partners Allison again tried to reassure the audience. “Microsoft will be pointing its partners in a new direction. At the conference, we will outline a framework for how partners can participate and make money with this new opportunity, framing the monetization approach for how partners participate financially within the new software plus services model. As more products become available in the software plus services area, we will continue define the partner revenue possibilities for each.”

I view this as a natural evolution for Microsoft and we all knew sooner or later this would come to surface whether we wanted to believe it or not.

By the glazed looks and many smiles on a few attendees faces I am sure some people were on board.  However,  not all people “drank the Microsoft Managed Services” kool-aid.  As ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley seems to not believe Microsoft will leave well enough alone, but will continue to push the envelope.

So for now a Partner is a Partner, but only time will tell, and we will soon see whether the partner plays as an important role in the delivery or certain hosted Microsoft products and services.


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