Partner Advocate

A Disambiguation Page for 'Microsoft Services'

Herewith, a guide to the many services that partners can take advantage of, as defined within the Microsoft parlance.

Eavesdrop on any conversation between Microsoft partners and you'll likely hear someone talk about "Microsoft services." The term usually comes up in a variation on one basic question: "What is Microsoft's new strategy on services going to do for, or to, my business?" We're certainly obsessed with the issue here at RCP, with no fewer than three articles touching on Microsoft services in this issue alone.

Here's the thing: We've noticed that, in many cases, when two people are talking about "Microsoft services," they're referring to entirely different businesses or initiatives, which, of course, leads to fruitless conversations. Here at RCP, we've identified five distinct definitions that share the shorthand reference "Microsoft services." You've seen Wikipedia's disambiguation pages, which attempt to resolve conflicts when a single word or phrase refers to multiple topics. With a nod to Wikipedia, we submit our own disambiguation page on Microsoft services:

Managed Services: A key development that enterprise partners are watching closely is Microsoft's move to provide managed desktop services for huge customers. Clients include XL Capital, Energizer Holdings and four others so far. In public statements, Microsoft has said these engagements will be limited to companies with 5,000 or more desktops.

Microsoft Consulting Services (MCS): Another subject of recurring concern for enterprise partners is Microsoft's intentions with Microsoft Consulting Services. Unlike managed services, these contracts are generally for new technology implementations, as opposed to ongoing systems or process management.

Software Plus Services (S+S): Of all the definitions for Microsoft services, S+S is the broadest and potentially most wide-ranging in terms of its impact on partners. When there's a trend worth jumping on, Microsoft is always one for coming up with its own name for it. In this case, the trend that Microsoft renamed is Software as a Service.

Web Services: Aside from consulting engagements and business models, there's also a technical meaning for Microsoft services. The term also refers to Microsoft's take on Service-Oriented Architecture, aka .NET services. These are the kind of services familiar to developers within partner companies.

Hosted Services: Related to S+S and managed services are Microsoft's hosted-services offerings. These include Microsoft CRM, Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft Office Live -- with more on the way.

So there you have it. Here's hoping that this "cheat sheet" will help ensure that when it comes to discussing Microsoft services, you and your conversation partners are on the same page.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.