Microsoft Puts Services Ready on a Roadmap

The aim is to provide partners with transparency, predictability and consistency.

Official roadmaps out of Redmond are a rare thing for Microsoft. Sure, the company talks about product availability dates all the time, and occasionally flashes them on-screen as a PowerPoint slide during a keynote. But the company seldom puts those projected release dates in print in a repeatedly accessible place.

The company is making an exception for its Services Ready program, which is a set of consulting packages that were launched in April. They're based on intellectual property developed by Microsoft Consulting Services that systems integrators can buy from Microsoft and use to ramp up or launch new practice areas.

Part of the reason for the exception is surely the lingering suspicion that Microsoft partners harbor about Microsoft Consulting Services someday deviating from its low-profile, market-development focus into a full-blown competitor with the channel in the consulting market. Probably the bigger reason for the new roadmap is the need for systems integrators to be able to do some business planning.

"What we're always hearing from partners is: 'The thing you can do most for us is you can be transparent, predictable and consistent,'" says Wayne Prentiss, senior director of Microsoft Services Partner Strategy.

In that spirit, Microsoft published a 12-slide presentation on July 9, showing its plans to release offerings through the third quarter of 2010.

The roadmap shows that about 15 Services Ready offerings will be released by Oct. 1. The company intends to have 57 packages ready for partners by the third quarter of 2010 and to update another four in that time, according to the roadmap.

As the number of Services Ready offerings grow, Microsoft is also providing a new way for partners to buy the consulting packages. Each offering is still available for $20,000. Now, however, partners can basically subscribe to Services Ready for a one-time fee.

"In most markets, it's about $50,000 to buy our entire roadmap -- [which is] not much more than buying a couple of offerings," Prentiss explains.

About the Author

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