Microsoft Realignment Repercussions
Microsoft announced a major
yesterday, lumping each of its seven business
units into one of three groups, each with its own president. "We
need to improve agility," CEO Steve Ballmer told the New York
Times. That makes sense, if agility amounts to streamlining the
chain of command. In practice, however, I’m not sure three
big divisions will be able to make decisions faster than seven smaller
For partners, however, there’s a bigger issue in play, that
being the new role for CTO Ray Ozzie. The father of Lotus Notes
will now be charged with exploring how Microsoft can deliver more
software as services. A few years ago, companies in that business
were called "application service providers," or ASPs.
After most of them failed miserably, you don’t hear that term
much anymore. Still, what Microsoft is talking about appears to
be the same idea and companies like Salesforce.com have proven it
can work. But if Microsoft gets into services, it will mean competing
with and taking revenue away from partners. Or is Microsoft talking
about helping its partners deliver software as services? Both? We’re
not sure, and we’re not sure Microsoft is, either.
Microsoft, Qwest Strike Services Deal
The realignment wasn’t the only potentially bad services-related
news from Microsoft this week. Yesterday the company announced it’s
working with Qwest Communications to offer a voice-over-IP service
to small and medium-sized businesses. Qwest will integrate the Microsoft
Solution for Enhanced VoIP services with its own suite of VoIP services
to create a package that includes voice, e-mail, Internet access,
collaboration, presence, instant messaging and desktop services.
The services are expected to be available next year. Given that
the Microsoft Solution for Enhanced VoIP Services provides hosted
versions of Microsoft server products including Exchange, Live Communications
Server and SharePoint Services, this once again seems to be at odds
with partner efforts to sell and service such offerings in the SMB
Alacris Acquisition Adds Smart Card Tools
For partners in the security field, Microsoft’s announcement
this week that it’s
buying Alacris is good news. Alacris makes tools to help provision,
configure and administer smart cards, and Microsoft plans to incorporate
them into its existing authentication and identity infrastructure.
Smart cards haven’t exactly caught fire, but it’s getting
easier to make the case as prices come down and security concerns
go up. Tools like those from Alacris should further help partners
make that case.
One of the better pieces I’ve seen coming out of the Professional
Developers Conference last week was penned
by Gregory Michetti, a systems integrator in Alberta, Canada,
who writes for the Cnews Web site. Michetti offers thoughts on key
features of Vista, Office 12 and the Expression Web design tools
that he saw demo’d at the show. One example: "You will
able to plug in your 512MB USB memory stick and as soon as Vista
recognizes it, the PC suddenly gets another 500 megs of memory (RAM)."
Microsoft Sues Alleged Software Pirates
While it’s not as much fun as seeing virus writers get locked
up, it’s good for partners to see Microsoft being vigilant
about catching companies that sell counterfeit software. This week,
launched lawsuits against eight firms that it alleges have done
just that, two of which it says are repeat offenders.
Database Mirroring Not Ready for Production
When SQL Server 2005 ships in November, it’ll include what
is essentially still beta code for one key feature: database mirroring.
Tom Rizzo, director of SQL Server product management, says
not enough beta testers have weighed in on the feature yet and
Microsoft is thus uncomfortable with declaring it "rock solid."
Customers can still use the feature but will have to go through
some extra steps to turn it on.
column was originally published in our weekly
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For Improved Security, Type Softly
As if we don’t have enough security problems, now the
Boston Globe reports that computer scientists at the University
of California at Berkeley claim they can crack passwords simply
by listening to you type, using off-the-shelf microphones and a
program designed to recognize human speech. Order your smart cards
Your Turn: Let's Fix Licensing
One of the stories recently posted to RCPmag.com from the September
issue of Redmond Channel Partner magazine is the results of our
partner survey. And one of the findings that jumped out from the
survey was that licensing and pricing issues are the number one
customer complaint. Check out my
Partner Advocate column for the full skinny, then drop me a
line at email@example.com
to let me know what you think should be done about licensing and
pricing issues. We’ll be sure to let Microsoft know.
Posted by Paul Desmond on September 21, 2005 at 11:53 AM