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Watson Sends Partners a Letter on the Economy and Azure

Allison Watson, Microsoft corporate vice president for the Worldwide Partner Group, sent Microsoft Partner Program members a letter via e-mail this morning about the economy and the Azure Services Platform, two topics that are top of mind for the Microsoft channel right now. The text of Watson's letter is below:

A Letter to Partners from Corporate VP Allison Watson

Help Customers Prosper in Today's Economy
I wanted to reach out during these turbulent economic times for two important reasons. First, I would like to emphasize that it is more important than ever for Microsoft and its Partners to remain aligned in supporting our mutual customers. The economic downturn is putting many segments under increasing pressure, making it critical to find new ways to reduce costs and inefficiencies. Second, at our Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in Los Angeles in October, we announced new technology previews of our Software plus Services strategy.

I have heard from many of you in the last few weeks and am truly inspired by your stories of passion for and dedication to customers -- Thank You! Through our collective knowledge, expertise, resources and partnership, we are uniquely positioned to help customers across the globe drive down costs and continue to thrive.

While no one can predict the future, Microsoft is continuing to invest in the research and development of technologies and products that will ignite business innovation moving forward. Together, we can offer Low-Cost yet High-Performance solutions that enable customers to gain competitive advantages in a tough marketplace.

Economy and Reducing Customer Cost
We need to begin each customer conversation with how we can help them save money. I encourage you to take every opportunity to demonstrate the significant savings and value customers can realize when they work with a Microsoft Partner. I want you to focus on how you go to market and talk to your customers about solutions. We want you to reach out to Technical Decision Makers and explain the costs and performance benefits of Core Infrastructure Optimization, Application Platform Infrastructure Optimization and Business Productivity Infrastructure Optimization. We know that you are talking to Business Decision Makers (BDMs), and they want to know how they can save money and be more productive in Sales, Marketing and Finance. Last, how can you reach out and drive Information Worker productivity so your customers can focus on making their core business as productive as possible?

To help foster this, we have assembled a list of the ways you can save customers money today by helping to guide and leverage their IT investments.

First, how can you help your customers' Technical Decision Makers become organizational heroes by reducing costs through Core Infrastructure Optimization?

  1. They can lower desktop deployment and management costs using the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack.

  2. Ensure you and your customers are using Windows Vista to run their businesses in an operating environment that lowers deployment, energy and maintenance costs. A tremendous side benefit is the increased productivity of their workforce.

  3. Microsoft System Center delivers a significant cost reduction for server ownership by improving datacenter operations management.

  4. Infrastructure Optimization tools offer Technical Decision Makers models and scenarios to identify ways to drive down costs.

  5. Reduce your customers' IT complexity, lower total cost of ownership and improve efficiency. Microsoft virtualization solutions and the Integrated Virtualization ROI tool.

  6. Use Deployment Solution Accelerators to deploy the solutions customers already own to get the maximum value from their IT investments.

Second, how can you help customers achieve higher productivity and increased efficiency through Application Platform Infrastructure Optimization?

  1. SQL Server 2008 is here, and together with the NEW Microsoft Application Platform Agreement, there is an opportunity to broadly standardize our customers across all of their database needs and drive transaction volume projects up with no additional license investment.

  2. Windows Server 2008 operating system, with its built-in Web and virtualization technologies, enables you to help customers consolidate more applications on fewer Servers, optimize their hardware spend and require less physical space. In-built middleware and interoperability creates opportunity to have conversations about how more applications than ever before run on this platform, reducing support and maintenance of dual platforms.

Third, reduce costs and increase performance using Business Productivity Infrastructure Optimization.

  1. Microsoft Online Services relieves Technical and Business Decision Makers from the burden of managing and maintaining business systems, freeing IT departments to focus on initiatives that can deliver true competitive advantage.

  2. Reduce travel, meeting, real estate and facilities, and communications costs, while leveraging a platform that fosters increased productivity through collaboration with Microsoft Unified Communications Solutions.

Fourth, how do we drive competitive advantage and take out costs for BDMs? With Microsoft Dynamics, which helps customers drive Sales, Marketing, Finance and other core business activities at lower costs and higher productivity.

  1. From streamlining administrative procedures like invoicing to producing needed financial reporting, or freeing up capital through better inventory management, Microsoft Dynamics ERP solutions automate and bring together business-critical operations to produce maximum efficiency and productivity and reduce costs.

  2. Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step offers rapid implementation projects that can help streamline implementations and deliver a quick return on investment.

  3. Tight integration between Microsoft Dynamics and other familiar Microsoft tools, such as Microsoft Office, drives seamless interactions with existing applications and helps customers avoid significant ongoing costs.

  4. Now, more than ever, your customers need to recruit new and retain existing customers with an incredible focus on satisfaction as well as real precision with marketing automation. Microsoft Dynamics CRM provides this along with better methods to precisely track revenue to deliver top line results.

Last, here are two offerings to directly contribute to the bottom line now and help drive customer decisions.

  1. Help qualified customers use Microsoft Financing in 15 markets to finance 100 percent of their IT purchases, so they can refocus tight budgets to grow their businesses. With credit markets tight, this is an especially useful tool.

  2. Microsoft Software Assurance for Volume Licensing and the Forrester ROI tool enable your customers to leverage maintenance benefits to get the most from their software investments.

As you can see, this list, while detailed, represents only a fraction of the ways that Microsoft can save your customers money in a time when every dollar of the budget is critical and at the same time can help them drive profitability by maximizing every business opportunity.

Professional Developers Conference Announcements
At PDC, we announced the availability of an early preview release of a new technology called Windows Azure. Windows Azure will enable developers to build applications that extend from the cloud to the enterprise datacenter and span the PC, the Web and the mobile phone.

For the first time, we shared pre-beta code for Windows 7 and for Windows Server 2008 R2. Windows 7, which is the next version of the Windows desktop operating system, will take advantage of software and hardware advances to help eliminate the boundaries between information, people and devices. We also previewed Office Web applications, which are lightweight versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote that are designed to be accessed through a browser. Office Web applications will be part of the next version of Office and will enable people to view, edit and share information and collaborate on documents on the desktop, the phone and in a Web browser in a way that is consistent and familiar.

Windows Azure is part of the Azure Services Platform, a comprehensive set of storage, computing and networking infrastructure services that reside in Microsoft's network of datacenters. Using the Azure Services Platform, developers will be able to build applications that run in the cloud and extend existing applications to take advantage of cloud-based capabilities. The Azure Services Platform provides the foundation for business and consumer applications that deliver a consistent way for people to store and share information easily and securely in the cloud, and access it on any device from any location.

Windows Azure is not software that companies will run on their own servers. It's something new: a service that runs in Microsoft's growing network of datacenters and provides the platform that helps companies respond to the realities of today's business environment, and tomorrow's. Windows Azure technologies are already finding their way into products such as Windows Server 2008 and System Center Virtual Machine Manager, enabling organizations and Microsoft partners to create their own cloud infrastructure.

Windows Azure will enable organizations to respond to realities such as the need to use the Web to provide customers with comprehensive information and to interact with an audience that has the potential to expand exponentially overnight; to integrate operations with partners -- and sometimes even competitors -- to meet customer needs; to add new capabilities quickly to respond to new opportunities; and to enable employees to work efficiently and effectively no matter where they are. These realities apply not just to businesses, but also to organizations of all kinds: schools, governments, community groups and more.

What Can You Do to prepare to Take Advantage of the Azure Opportunity?

  • Learn Azure Platform Services. To learn more visit the Microsoft Partner Program Azure Services Platform site.

  • Register for the Azure Services Platform Community Technology Preview.

  • Download the Azure Services Platform SDKs.

  • Learn more through tools such as Azure Services Platform Case Studies and Azure Services Platform White Papers.

  • Participate in the Azure Services Platform Community through methods such as:
    - Engagement in the Azure Services Platform Forums and Blogs.
    - Attendance of Azure Services Platform Events and Webcasts.

With Business Productivity Online Services available live in the U.S. on Nov. 17 and rolled out internationally in the second half of the year, What Can You Do to help your customers take advantage of the full range of Software plus Services offerings?

  • Continue to learn about Microsoft Online Services.

  • Learn more by signing up at QuickStart for Microsoft Online Services.

  • Sign up for the Business Productivity Online Services Beta at

  • Understand and Embrace the Software plus Services Transformation.

  • Visit the Software plus Services 100-level training and learn more about Software plus Services.

  • Learn more with the Partner Evolution Guide. The tools and resources available there, such as the Profitability Modeler will help you evolve your business with services.

I think you will agree with me that we have the right products, at the right value, with the right message to help serve customer needs in this time of economic instability. Go out, have those conversations about cost and productivity, and show how Microsoft Partners can give them the advantage. Learn about and embrace the Software plus Services transformation, and pass the vision on to your customers!

As always, I look forward to hearing from you. Please send me an e-mail, and let me know how you are helping customers save money and how Microsoft can support your success. Together, we will continue to help our customers reach their true potential.

Best regards,

Allison L. Watson
Corporate Vice President
Worldwide Partner Group
Microsoft Corporation

Posted by Scott Bekker on November 13, 2008