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CRN: What are the opportunities for partners beyond the partner-of-record fees, and what is Microsoft doing to help partners recognize those opportunities?
Ross: We have this workshop that we offer called "business model transformation," which is helping partners understand how you go from a business model that's project-based to one that's advisor-based and services-based, where you attach recurring services to that underlying contract.
Roskill: This is both a business and a technology transformation we're going through. And that's why most partners need to start the discussion with, well, what does this mean to my business fundamentals, my business model. Thinking about how their business model evolves is the core thing. [They] need to think about faster turns, more customers, those sorts of dimensions. All [their] money isn't going to come from the partner-of-record [fees]. It's a business process re-engineering effort. And, the partners need to start with that.
CRN: Talk about the problem of software piracy. What is the legal responsibility of channel partners when they see it?
Roskill: At the end of the day, we want customers to have the best experience. Our licensing is based on trust. If people really want to go steal the stuff, they will. The majority of customers I talk to actually are legitimate business people who understand intellectual property and actually want to be in compliance. And I think one of the issues that people are grappling with is that it gets more complex as you get into [midsize] and bigger businesses. Some of the tools that come out from us and from partners -- some of the large-account resellers have put out asset management tools -- are really advantageous for helping customers.
Ross: In the U.S. you're going to find that it's a novelty to find structured piracy -- someone who's making a business out of selling illegitimate software.
Roskill: If you're a VAR and you see this, number one, I would expect that they would raise this with the customer, at least make them aware of the situation they are in. And the second thing is to bring it back to us. And there are certainly partners who are doing that.
Thomas Hansen: One of the big changes that's fundamentally going to change that picture is the cloud. The cloud is the great equalizer when it comes to the notion of piracy. Because there you're going to have the option of saying: 'We switch off if you don't pay.'
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