Microsoft Mobilizes Go-To-Market Plan, Channel Promotions

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Microsoft has a new plan to help partners go to market with its roles-based software and is mobilizing a new series of channel promotions for its 2007 fiscal year.

Microsoft replaced its traditional Go-To-Market (GTM) campaigns with eight Customer Campaigns, which consist of preconfigured software stacks that meet the needs of software architects, mobile workers, business analysts and other roles within an organization.

Customer Campaigns address key customer pain points and business scenarios of small, midsize and large companies. The campaigns revolve around partners helping customers build connections; find, use and share information; drive business performance and real-world business processes; optimize infrastructure; and enable the mobile workforce.

The campaigns align directly with specific competencies and partner specializations. For example, Microsoft said at its Velocity 2006 partner conference in Boston that it has developed several Customer Campaigns for the upcoming Windows Vista desktop upgrade and has identified scenarios that meet needs of consumers, small businesses and enterprises.

Microsoft also has developed demonstration software for its "People Ready" software. Called Demo Showcase, the software helps partners coordinate their sales and marketing with the Customer Campaigns and gives them a standard way of communicating the benefits of integrated solutions.

In addition, Microsoft has created a four-level infrastructure optimization model that allows partners to help customers identify the maturity and efficiency of their infrastructure and adopt a path for improving it. The model defines an infrastructure as basic, standardized, rationalized or dynamic and recommends new software stacks and solutions to migrate it to the highest state. Microsoft is rolling out an Infrastructure Optimization Kit for partners to help accelerate use of the framework.

In a basic infrastructure, for instance, customers and their partners simply fight fires. Yet customers that have a standardized infrastructure gain more control by implementing group policy through Active Directory, adopting Systems Management Server and controlling network access through Microsoft Identity Integration Server.

Plans also call for Microsoft to launch application platform infrastructure and business productivity models in 2007 based on its server applications and Office 2007 family, the company said in recent meetings with CRN.

Microsoft advises that partners leverage Customer Campaigns and the optimization model frameworks to build appropriate solutions for their customers. The Redmond, Wash., comapny has worked with several hundred partners to develop a Customer Campaign for optimizing core infrastructure. A systems integrator, for example, might sell a desktop infrastructure optimization solution to enterprise customers, which have the most significant desktop management, security and deployment costs.

At Velocity 2006, Larry LeSueur, vice president of infrastructure and security at Avanade, an IT services company co-owned by Accenture and Microsoft, said he has used the infrastructure optimization model to help customers sharpendesktop efficiencies. The systems integrator accomplished that by employing Microsoft's application compatibility tool kit and Windows Imaging features of Vista Enterprise, he said.
"What Microsoft has introduced is a common framework that allows us to embrace customers, take a step back from the product discussion, tell them where technologies are going and where their environment can be," LeSueur said.

Also at the partner conference, Microsoft announced a roster of promotions aimed at spurring channel sales. They include the following:

• A Branch Infrastructure Promotion that bundles Windows Server 2003 R2, ISA Server, Virtual Server 2005 R2 and System Center Management licenses at a 10 percent discount. The all-in-one solution helps partners target branch-office customers. Microsoft is considering making this promotion a product, as it's doing with Centro, a midmarket server bundle being developed as an integrated server product.

• The Security Software Advisor Program, a new incentive to drive sales of Microsoft's Forefront security products, including ISA 2006, Antigen and the upcoming desktop security and antivirus offerings. For new sales, partners can earn a 20 percent advisor fee, and through February, Microsoft is offering an extra 10 percent free--for a 30 percent total fee, on top of margins. The program is available to partners who have earned Microsoft's security solution competency, others that prove their qualifications and to those who sell competing security products. VARs also can earn a 5 percent fee for getting renewals of their security products.

• A financing promotion dubbed 6/50 enables SMB customers to pay $50 (or 50 euros or 50 pounds) per month for six months for a total solution. This eliminates a typical obstacle to adoption by letting customers realize the benefits of the software before they begin making sizable payments on it, according to Microsoft. The company said the promotion, which began this month and runs through June 2007, is designed to drive the adoption of Vista, Office 2007 and new servers. After the first six months, the loan balance must be paid in 36 monthly payments.

• The SQL Server Competitive Migration program now covers databases other than Oracle, including IBM DB2 and Sybase. Microsoft is offering partners new migration tools and up to a 50 percent discount for customers that migrate to SQL Server.

• An out-of-the-box managed services solution for partners based on the upcoming System Center Management Server 2007 and the new System Center Essentials technology. Still in development, the solution will allow partners to provide customers with remote software update management, monitoring, troubleshooting and end-to-end management.

• Technet Plus Online is being reduced to $349 annually for VARs from $499. Microsoft was able to cut the price by offering its not-for-resale software builds and tools online for download.

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