Microsoft To Launch Rebuilt Channel Builder Site Next Week

The high-quality matchmaking tool, designed to allow Microsoft ISVs and service partners to collaborate on solutions, has been in pilot testing with 150 partners for several months and is now ready for business, said Vlad Martynov, senior director of ISVs at the Redmond, Wash.-based company.

Plans call for the tool to go live for Gold partners on Dec. 20 and for Certified partners on Jan. 10, according to Microsoft. Registered partners can access the site in view-only mode.

The revised Web site is a more sophisticated approach to enabling ISVs and service partners to network, emphasize their specialties, post opportunities and accept requests for proposal, Martynov said. For instance, the tool lists partners' solutions, state, vertical and horizontal specialties, competencies, target market and their solutions' price range. Partners can make recommendations for themselves or others that might be suitable for the job in question.

Martynov said he believes the revamped site will bring ISVs together with appropriate service providers more quickly than the former site. "It will allow them to expand into new geographies, complement each other and win more deals," he said.

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Channel Builder is populated from the main partner directory that lists partner profiles. ISVs and solution providers can check off a new box on the main partner page to authorize Microsoft to feed their profile data to Channel Builder.

Based on the feedback of partners who pilot tested the site, Microsoft implemented a new feature that lets partners save a request in draft mode before formally posting the opportunity in order to allow other colleagues to edit it, Martynov said.

One solution provider said that although the International Association of Microsoft Certified Partners (IAMCP) is an effective conduit for linking ISVs and solution providers, having all the partner data in one repository will be helpful.

"It is a good idea to have a source for this information on many levels. A lot of Microsoft people and partners look to these things to help them understand who has a particular solution or product that will get them up and running on a client problem quicker," said Ted Dinsmore, president of Conchango, New York. "However, a lot of this is [done with] good, old-fashioned Web searches like Google and is not as defined as Microsoft would like to think."

IAMCP plans to preview the Microsoft Channel Builder site this Wednesday, said Reginald Howatson, practice manager at Nexxlink Technologies, a Microsoft solution provider in Montreal.