Scenes From Day Two Of Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference

Offering Cloud Assistance

’Together we’re going to succeed in this transition to the cloud,’ Jon Roskill, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Group, told channel partners in a keynote on the second day of Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington, D.C.

Microsoft unveiled channel program tools, sales support services and other resources to help channel partners make the transition to become cloud service providers. A new Microsoft Cloud Essentials Pack, for example, offers a range of training services, presales and technical support, and marketing resources.

Channel partners also will be offered free 250-seat licenses for Microsoft BPOS, Azure, CRM Online and Intune for their own use. ’We’re doing this because we want you running on our latest software,’ Roskill said.

The idea: Solution providers can’t adequately sell cloud computing software they don’t use themselves.

Leading By Example

Roskill, speaking on stage at the Verizon Center, introduced a handful of solution providers who have already begun selling Microsoft cloud software. They spoke briefly about their experiences selling Business Productivity Online Standard Suite, Dynamics CRM Online and other Microsoft products, and offered tips on how to make the transition.

Insight Enterprises, a Microsoft large-account reseller, developed a special set of services to help customers migrate to cloud computing and developed a cloud-based IT management application and a single sign-on cloud software aggregation tool for its clients. The LAR now has 650 cloud computing customers totaling 195,000 seats.

Webfortis, a San Francisco-based solution provider that sells on-premise and on-demand versions of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, created a separate line of business for cloud computing with a defined practice manager and dedicated sales and marketing resources.

A Sell-Out Crowd

One indication that cloud computing is a hot topic among Microsoft channel partners was how quickly conference sessions and workshops on the topic filled up. Conference workers had to put up a ’Session Full’ sign on the door to this presentation on helping customers deploy Microsoft’s Business Productivity Suite product and turn away attendees who came too late.

The best those shut out could do was peek through the window from the hallway. Also closed out was the session ’Microsoft Partner Network 2011: Leading The Charge. (It was repeated later in the day to accommodate as many attendees as possible.)

I've Only Come Here Seeking Knowledge

Most sessions, if they didn’t close out, came pretty darn close. Attendees crowded into this presentation Tuesday afternoon on how to build a business around Microsoft’s development tools and platforms.

Microsoft executives have put the attendance at this year’s WPC at about 9,500 partners, plus another 3,000 Microsoft employees.

Fighting The Critics

Brad Brooks, corporate vice president of Windows consumer marketing, led off a series of demonstrations of new products that he said would ’totally change the way people think about home entertainment.’

At the core of the demonstration was Windows 7, the desktop operating system that has been a strong seller for Microsoft. Brooks also took a shot at Apple CEO Steve Jobs and other critics who say mobile devices will predominate in the future with fewer people using PCs. Brooks pointed to forecasts that 370 million PCs, which he said stands for ’personal cloud,’ will be shipped in the next 12 months.

Wowing The Crowd

Brooks led off with demonstrations of how a home PC network and entertainment system would work, including showing off new features in Microsoft’s Bing search engine and Messenger instant messaging application.

That was followed by a lengthy demonstration of Windows Phone 7, the new release of Microsoft’s operating system for mobile devices.

But it was a demonstration of Kinetic, the new motion-sensing addition to the Xbox 360 video gaming system, that really got the crowd jazzed up. The keynote included demonstrations of games for children, including a river rafting game and a game with virtual pets, where players interact with the system using body motions and voice commands.

Careful, They Might Be Stealing Your Password

WPC attendees caught up on e-mail and checked their show schedule under the watchful eyes of a mural of American Indians.

It Ain't The Beach, But It Will Do

Getting it all in at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference can be exhausting. This attendee found a quiet corner of the Washington Convention Center to crash for a few minutes.