Microsoft Services Exec Eyes 'Managed Solutions' Via Energizer Project

Microsoft's consulting group continues to refine its role vis a vis partners. Rick Devenuti, corporate vice president of Microsoft Services and IT, shed some light on his group's desktop management services works at customer Energizer as well as on its broader role in creating "managed solutions," or SKUs that could help ease deployment, in an interview with several members of the CRN editorial team.

CRN: How should channel partners feel about the Energizer project, in which Microsoft's IT department is providing a customer with technology services?

DEVENUTI: We're in an incubation stage around this managed solution. Essentially, I think of it as another SKU. We're calling it a managed solution. We're attempting to manage the desktop in a secure way, their Exchange environment and SharePoint. So desktop and collaboration, very simple. No networking, no servers. To help the customer with a great TCO [total cost of ownership] story around the desktop. Now to do that, it's around configuring the desktop and taking away some of the privileges that an end user has.

Energizer, as a customer, in our discussions with them, said, 'Look, we'd like security guaranteed out of the box. We'd like a lower cost of ownership. We'd like all of our desktops to be exactly the same. We'd like all our apps to run on the same platform. Can you help us with that?' We've taken our IT department, we've looked at the processes we use internally, and we've looked at the process internally, which doesn't include all the things we do at Energizer. And we've tried to figure out, is there a truly scalable way to think of desktop management different from how our outsourcing partners do it today, which is very labor-intensive and very costly? So how do we use software to do it instead of people?

CRN: When you service that customer, are you a service provider?

DEVENUTI: We are going to be providing that service, yes. Now we're [also] using partners to help provide that service. The reason I call it an SKU is that if we get this right, and it's in incubation, this is something that is an incredible partner opportunity--both from offering that service or from offering parts of that service. You think of all the work that has to be done around help desk, around touching machines, application migration, qualifying accounts and helping them migrate through that. Or selling it as a partner-led offer.

CRN: The name that keeps coming up as a potential partner is EDS. Have you done anything with them on this?

DEVENUTI: They're not the one [in the Energizer deal], but we're in discussions on this very topic. We've got a great relationship, and they've got a very healthy outsourced desktop business. ... If we can take this offer so that they can do that in a more economical way for both them and customers, why wouldn't that be appealing to them? So we're in those discussions.

CRN: How long have you been in Energizer? What is the milestone you're looking for? And are you in any other similar situations?

DEVENUTI: The only account that we have today is Energizer. We will do others. And success won't be until we're done with Energizer, which is probably six or eight months out. We're migrating mailboxes. We've just started to migrate the first machines.

CRN: What other scenarios are you trying to solve?

DEVENUTI: I think there's a certain size bucket of customers you've got to understand. This isn't something that's going to work in large enterprises. For us to try to compete with EDS for 100,000 seats is ludicrous. I really don't understand what people think when they ask if we're competing with EDS. Think of the infrastructure. We're trying to build a product that will let customers and partners stay current on technology in a secure way at a total cost of ownership that is compelling.