Microsoft Shifts Gears On Solution Accelerators

The Redmond, Wash.-based software giant is not planning to kill the program but is making significant changes to cut costs and address customer pain points, target vertical markets, partners say.

"Microsoft went very deep on producing code for the accelerators, and now they want to go more shallow, spend less on 30 accelerators that don't go as deep [as the current set of accelerators]," said one partner briefed on the changes.

"Expect to see more reference implementations and Prescriptive Architecture Guides [PAGs] and less code base," the partner said.

"Solution Accelerators were mostly developed by partners with Microsoft funding. Funding is stopping, but Microsoft may still develop some accelerators in the product groups," another partner said. "Solution Accelerators aren't so much being killed as reorganized under the PAG initiative and [Early Adopter Program] efforts," the partner said.

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Office Solution Accelerators, which are available at no cost, are designed to improve customers' ROI on Microsoft software and help them meet government/financial compliance requirements.

Another source said that while the accelerators are lucrative for partners, customers haven't warmed up to the accelerators because they don't work out of the box. "It looks like [Microsoft] is reallocating funds to create more accelerators [and] also to redefine what accelerators are," the source said.

The accelerators are now being pitched as architectural blueprints and for partner demo purposes, partner sources said.

"There is a level of misunderstanding about what Solutions Accelerators are," said Roger Johnston, vice president at Meridio, an ISV in Reston, Va. "There was a big expectation [that] these are solutions, but they're not solutions. It takes a partner and a customer to build a solution."

Microsoft declined to comment on this story. Douglas McDowell, principal consultant for Intellinet, Atlanta, predicted that some accelerators may be retired but cited two--the Office Business Scorecards Accelerator and Excel Add-In for SQL Server Analysis Services--that have succeeded.

"They have been very successful because they are considered more complete in the features they offer and the amount of effort required to get started," he said.