Microsoft’s Fickle Channel

Partners are watching closely to see what personnel changes mean

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The last several months have been interesting for Microsoft channel partners. First, there were increasing incidents of channel conflict with Microsoft Consulting Services (MCS). Then, there were shifts in the executive ranks for Microsoft's partner business, which led to a delay for the company's long-awaited rules of engagement for channel partners and MCS.

Microsoft had planned to announce its "partner playbook" around the holidays, but that was postponed after another important development,the hiring of former IBM Global Services executive Michael Sinneck as the new head of Microsoft Worldwide Services. Sinneck, who most recently served as vice president of operations for IBM Global Services Americas, replaced longtime Microsoft executive Robert McDowell, who will stay on with the software king in a different, "customer-focused role," according to the company.

Microsoft didn't say why McDowell left his position, but the timing of the change has partners watching developments carefully. McDowell had said the channel conflicts were isolated incidents limited to large enterprise accounts and emphasized that Microsoft had no plans to sell direct.

However, that message was also delivered by Microsoft channel executive Ian Rogoff, who took a sabbatical over the summer, when channel conflict with MCS began to grow, and never returned as vice president of Microsoft's partner program. Rogoff, like McDowell, was re-assigned within the company. It's unclear, then, if Sinneck was brought in because Microsoft's services business was being too aggressive,or not aggressive enough.


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