CRN Interview: Microsoft's Doug Burgum


CRN: Microsoft is always talking about the beauty of its full stack—but when you see all the interdependencies, if you run Vista you have to upgrade your database, etc. etc., I wonder how many see this as an advantage? Isn't there a downside to the stack -- especially when people see all this easy-to-use stuff from Google and others?

Burgum: Well there are two ways to look at it. The stack has so much value in it compared to ever before in capabilities. You're bringing up synchronization of versions, where you assume some short periods where you're out of sync and long periods of time where you're in sync. That's manageable. The customer has to decide whether to take advantage of all that innovation.

What we haven't seen from any hosted platforms yet, is the ability to have robust ecosystem atop that, and robust capability for personalization and customization. That is one issue with the whole software-is-dead, one-size-fits-all model.

CRN: Salesforce.com's Appexchange addresses some of that.

Burgum: Appexchange is trying to change that story and Microsoft is working to respond with Live platforms.

Any [Microsoft] strategy will have a platform for innovation, the benefits of Web-based platform but still have innovation and tools for the community .

Our stack will allow for Web Services to tie into applications as I think of what's next you have to look at ISV and channel opportunities are huge.

The opportunity right now to be a software ISV have never been better.

CRN: Really? How so?

Burgum: There are a couple of bullish thingsThe next three years will be huge in ERP because of the echo of Y2K. With all these systems five years of selling got dragged into late 98 and 99, as all those companies rushed to put in transaction systems that worked.

Do you want to do an incremental upgrade or put in a truly great new system with new search and a new interface? That would be pretty fun.

To have the ability to create IP atop this platform is exciting.

We [Microsoft] won't get to everything, there's a lot of white space on functionality and process and going deep One partner is doing a nurse's station healthcare thing we heard about. It's a tiny thing but doing great business. Then the winery verticals. There are so many ways to make money in this business.

There are a couple of partners Junction Solutions and FullScope that are just going great.

One was not really on our radar, then came to convergence 2003 and now has 100 people. The other has 120 or 140 doing sophisticated things, winning business. That sounds like fun. They won't stop at 100, they'll build beyond and will do it largely organically.

Terry Petrzelka [CEO of Tectura] is up to 1,800 people! He came in six or seven years ago with an idea there was a void for someone who could do the high end of the mid market and lower part of the high end market. There was a need for someone with global reach that could deal with the full Microsoft stack. He built a global [system integrator] below the Accentures of the world and above the VARs.

He had a single idea and executed against it. I think they have 350 customers just at this event. They had a packed ballroom here that was bigger than our first four convergences.

Some partners say 'Woe is me, Microsoft will kill ERP margins,' and under our nose, people are building large organizations based on reselling software, some IP and CRM and the Microsoft stack.

If we've got Live solutions, my guess is they'll have them as a part of their kit, still adding domain expertise.

NEXT: WHO AT MICROSOFT WILL HAVE THE PARTNERS' BACK?