Pinnacle Decision Systems sent several employees to .NET training camp early on, worked extensively with beta versions for .NET products and deployed a customer project with Microsoft Consulting. It was "a huge benefit," Sides says. But Pinnacle was one of only a few partners that have been proactive about .NET. Microsoft's new strategy,and ultimate repositioning of its business,has gotten off to a slow start with partners, according to many solution providers. Part of the reason is .NET is a large and intangible concept that went through many months of evangelizing before the technology was demonstrated.
Microsoft partners say another problem, however, hindered .NET adoption,the lack of training and resources. Microsoft only recently revamped its partner program for 2002 to relax constraints on internal-use licenses and allow partners access to new products, including .NET software. Plus, partners say the benefits in the eighth edition of the Certified and Gold partner programs were long overdue. Microsoft has also begun a stronger push for .NET training as well, but the company will have to play catch-up to products that have already been released.
Kerry Gerontianos, president of Incremax, a New York-based solution provider, as well as president of the International Association of Microsoft Certified Partners, says there has been an increase in .NET training but there's still much work to be done. "There's absolutely a lack of .NET-trained people out there," he says. "I'm a great example. I haven't sent my guys to formal training yet, and I should have."
Several solution providers say that customers aren't as eager for .NET as they've been for past products. If the channel doesn't pick up the slack on .NET, it could lead to even more business going through Microsoft Consulting instead of partners.
"I think that Microsoft needs a lot of early wins right now, and that's why you're seeing Microsoft Consulting more often out there," Gerontianos says. "I'm not seeing a threat, but some have come to me panicked about Microsoft being in their space."