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Salesforce Deal: Is Microsoft Turning the Tide on the 'Tactical Tax'?

Earlier in Microsoft's history, a well-known internal issue was the "strategy tax." The idea, as I understand it as an outside observer, was that if a product or idea didn't advance the Windows-first, Windows-everywhere agenda, forces inside Microsoft would kill it.

The phenomenon is sometimes credited with Microsoft's failure to innovate in the 2000s as it missed first the smartphone boom and then the tablet boom. More

Posted by Scott Bekker on May 30, 2014 at 12:49 PM0 comments

Microsoft Names 2014 Partner of the Year Winners

Microsoft acknowledged hundreds of its highest-performing partners Tuesday with the announcement of the Microsoft Partner of the Year Awards. Winners included Alliance Partners Accenture/Avanade for systems integration and Sitecore on the ISV side.

The two categories for individuals went to Geno Cenci of ePlus Technology Inc. for Sales Specialist Partner of the Year, and to Graham Quinn of Auxilion for Pre-Sales Technical Specialist Partner of the Year. More

Posted by Scott Bekker on May 27, 2014 at 4:22 PM0 comments

Schuster Taking on Major Role in Microsoft Partner Program

Gavriella Schuster, an 18-year Microsoft veteran, will join the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group (WPG) on June 1 in a new position that combines the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) role of Julie Bennani and the partner marketing duties of Karl Noakes, a company spokesperson confirmed Friday.

Phil Sorgen, corporate vice president for the WPG, selected Schuster for the new role in May. Bennani and Noakes continue to report to Sorgen in unspecified roles, including ensuring a smooth transition of their former responsibilities to Schuster, the spokesperson said. The move is designed to gain efficiencies by bringing the MPN and partner marketing teams together, he said. More

Posted by Scott Bekker on May 23, 2014 at 1:51 PM0 comments

Microsoft WPC Enemies List: Oracle Off, Amazon On

Every year, Microsoft bars employees of about four companies from attending the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC). The list for this year's gathering removes one perennial on the enemies list, Oracle, but adds a new strategic rival, Amazon.

From the WPC "terms and conditions" for the conference this July in Washington, D.C., Microsoft states, "The following companies and their employees and representatives are excluded from attending and participating in WPC 2014 and affiliated events: Amazon, Google, Salesforce.com, VMware." More

Posted by Scott Bekker on May 23, 2014 at 12:09 PM0 comments

One Week to the RCP Rocket Award Deadline!

There's one week left to get your submissions in for the RCP Rocket Award contest.

Tell us your growth story -- just a one- to two-page description of the innovative business strategies you've used that have resulted in sustained growth over a three-year period.

The 2014 award is open to all U.S.-based IT services companies with annual revenues between $5 million and $75 million. Click here for more contest details or e-mail me with your questions. More

Posted by Scott Bekker on May 23, 2014 at 12:50 PM0 comments

Partners Getting Direct Billing Option for Microsoft Azure

Starting this summer, partners will be able to resell Microsoft's Azure cloud services to customers in a way that still allows partners to control their own margins while adjusting for monthly changes in demand.

"Microsoft Azure will be available for partners to resell in the Open Licensing programs on Aug. 1 of this year," said Phil Sorgen, corporate vice president of the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group, in a video message Wednesday. More

Posted by Scott Bekker on May 21, 2014 at 12:12 PM0 comments

Partner: Tool Targets 3 Problems with Large Migrations to Office 365

A year after launching an Office 365 migration project automation tool for Microsoft partners, SkyKick this week released an enterprise version to help the channel move larger customers to Microsoft's cloud productivity suite.

The two-time Microsoft Partner of the Year Award-winning startup, launched by former Microsoft employees, released its SkyKick Application Suite in April 2013 with the idea of automating most of the tasks involved in migrating smaller customers from on-premises or other cloud e-mail systems onto Office 365. The original product design focused on the SMB customers that represent the sweet spot of Office 365 adoption, with SkyKick's business case scenarios centering on deployments with about 25 users. More

Posted by Scott Bekker on May 20, 2014 at 3:46 PM0 comments

Microsoft Surface: Third Time's the Charm?

Microsoft will hold a press event in New York City on Tuesday for a Surface announcement that is rumored to include the unveiling of a "Surface Mini" and a new Intel-based Surface Pro.

The limited-seating event begins at 11 a.m. Eastern Time, and those who want to follow along will be able to join a live webcast at the Microsoft News Center. More

Posted by Scott Bekker on May 19, 2014 at 12:24 PM0 comments

Lync App Arrives for Android Tablets

Microsoft this week released a Lync app that supports Android tablets, closing the one large remaining hole in the unified communications platform's mobile device coverage.

Lync apps were already available for Android phones, as well as for iPads, iPhones, Windows 8.1 devices and Windows Phones. More

Posted by Scott Bekker on May 15, 2014 at 11:45 AM0 comments

Kaseya Upgrades Partner Program

Kaseya on Thursday rolled out a major update to its partner program.

The midmarket-focused systems management company counts managed service providers as a major part of its customer base, but the enhancements to the Kaseya Partner Program apply to a different group of partners. More

Posted by Scott Bekker on May 08, 2014 at 1:24 PM0 comments

Competencies, Bigger Incentives for Symantec Partners

At its Vision conference this week, Symantec unveiled updates to the Symantec Partner Program, including more than a dozen new solution competencies and incentives tied to those competencies.

The changes deliver on a previously announced overhaul to the Symantec Partner Program, which focuses on a two-tier competency structure -- a lower-level Principal Competency and a higher-level Expert Competency. The competencies will replace the solution specializations Symantec previously had in place. More

Posted by Scott Bekker on May 07, 2014 at 9:46 AM0 comments

CEO Offers Full-Throated Defense of the Channel

Continuum CEO Michael George is offering a full-throated argument for the channel in the cloud era.

George posted a video message this week on the Continuum Web site to promote its new Continuum Cloud Console, or C3, service for managing Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) on behalf of customers (see previous RCP coverage here). More

Posted by Scott Bekker on May 07, 2014 at 9:07 AM0 comments