1) As I said we are always out talking to Partners and gathering feedback, particularly hot right now around our Cloud offerings
2) Also as I have said, we do meet here in Redmond with the product teams and discuss Partner input in the context of our product offerings (as product and billing are fully intertwined in the Cloud world) frequently…..part of my job is being the champion of the Partners in the halls of Microsoft and I take that role on with gusto!
3) Microsoft priority right now is to get Office 365 out the door in many languages and we have agreed that anything else that trades off against that will be a lower priority, so anything that requires engineering team resources (as the same team is doing the product/service is also the team doing the billing systems….part of the new Cloud world).
4) From talking to Partners one of the things I have taken away is that they frequently don’t understand what we have available to help them in this area of selling Microsoft Online Services while maturing their customer relationships, specifics in this area are:
a. They have the ability to put links in their marketing that drives to trials with them automatically set as Partner of Record
b. They have ability to use the BPOS sales dashboard to track all their trials and sales and the ability to drive incremental sales (customers often start with a small sale and then scale).
c. For partners that have made it into our Cloud Accelerate program level there is also the ability to fully assign the Partner as the Admin of Record where you can manage the deployment and admin of the customer seats…. This to me is proof that the customer really does value the Partner relationship at that level. I think this functionality is so cool that I am working to see if we can extend this to all Online Resellers (not just Cloud Accelerate).
d. Our model, while not perfect, does let partners get into market quickly with limited to no investment in cloud infrastructure for lead management, billing, quote tools, etc. and I do get a lot of positive feedback from this aspect of our Partner go-to-market approach.
5) As soon as we have any opportunities for Partners to resell any Microsoft products you will of course hear it from me first!
This topic has really struck a nerve. I'll be sharing more responses from readers soon.