Microsoft Plays UC Matchmaker
We told you last November about Microsoft's entry into unified communications
and Redmond's curious
with rival Cisco. Well, this week, Jeana Jorgensen, director
of the Unified Communications Group at Microsoft, caught up with RCPU to tell
us how UC partner recruitment is going.
Microsoft has been concentrating on getting its more traditional software partners
into UC, with a strong focus on Office Communications Server, Microsoft's UC
technology backbone. At the same time, Jorgensen said, Redmond has been recruiting
new partners from the telephony space to handle voice applications. Now, she
told us, it's time to match one group with the other.
"We spent a lot of time trying to skill up our existing partners and a
lot of time recruiting new voice partners," Jorgensen said. "In the
next 18 to 24 months, we'll be matching infrastructure partners with telephony partners.
It's almost like an internship for each other. We're partnering them up on the
first several sets of customer implementations."
So, are those telephony partners coming over from, say, Cisco's side?
"I wouldn't say it's been a raid into the Cisco base," Jorgensen
said. "We've been talking to the local regions [of the Microsoft Partner
Program]. We had partners that knew the telephony partners already. We looked
at who the regions felt were the most skilled and the most reputable."
And how are those partners responding to Microsoft's software-first (as opposed
to, say, Cisco's network-first) approach to UC?
"Bringing a software-centric approach to voice is something that is new,
but what we're finding is people are interested in learning," Jorgensen
answered. "They're willing to start making bets on the software side as
well. A lot of folks have got Avaya, they've got Cisco embedded already. We're
spending a lot of time making sure our software's interoperable."
So, we asked, how flexible will Microsoft be with telephony partners that might
not buy into Redmond's UC vision 100 percent and might want to hedge their bets
by continuing to work with competitors?
Said Jorgensen: "We want them to know we're committed to them, and then
they can make a decision on how committed they want to be. We would love them
to be very committed to Microsoft, but Microsoft has partnerships with a lot
of partners, and some of those partners are competitive and we expect partners
to do the same thing. In the end, we want partners to give customers what they
And, if Microsoft has its way, software and technology partners will join together
to do just that.
Posted by Lee Pender on April 10, 2008 at 11:54 AM