Microsoft Looks at Vertical,

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2005-07-25 Print this article Print

Midmarket Solutions"> Microsoft also used the recent partner conference to talk about its decision to focus on more vertical "solution sets" in the enterprise and midmarket spaces, a move that has caused consternation among some partners. Ballmer looked to quell those concerns saying, "Most of what we do is horizontal, at least by industry. We remain a very horizontally focused go-to-market partner."

Microsoft is trying to get its horizontal infrastructure to address the vertical needs of larger enterprises while, for smaller enterprises and in corporate accounts, ensuring its Microsoft Business Solutions product line meets vertical requirements, Ballmer said.

"In large enterprises, to the degree we understand peoples businesses, we have a better chance of working with them to help them build out the IP [intellectual property] or get the partners or ISVs that will let them have solutions that target specific areas," he said.

However, some software partners say Microsoft does not yet provide enough support to allow the company to offer comprehensive vertical solutions.

"In fields like accounting, firms have tried to provide technology partnering, but Microsoft has not provided sufficient go-to-market resources. Microsoft needs to provide comprehensive planning so it can link a technology partner with international accounting consulting firms. This type of comprehensive support would truly move Microsoft and their partner forward in deep verticals," one partner said.

Enterprise customers such as John Persinger, a network administrator at Source4 Inc., based in Roanoke, Va., see the vertical-solution-set move as a low-risk opportunity for Microsoft to drive into areas where it currently does not have a presence.

"The more things they get under the Microsoft umbrella, the more opportunities they create for themselves," Persinger said, pointing to the fact that Microsoft already has the pieces in place to make a strong stand in markets such as health care.

"They already bring a lot to the table in terms of policy-enforceable secure communications between servers and desktops in the enterprise. This meets the standards of modern best practices and the IT requirements of organizations that have to conform to legally mandated security standards, like HIPAA [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act]," said Persinger.

While IBM remains an important Microsoft competitor, especially in the enterprise, Ballmer said, "they are not involved in a lot of the new technologies. That doesnt mean they are not doing some things our customers value, but they are not pioneering the new technologies."

"I think IBM is playing it smart," said Robert. "They compete on the software front where they can, but they do not want to rock the boat and so just go about doing whatever they can to make money.

"Microsoft has, over time, crushed every competitor that got in its way. Look at where Netscape [Communications Corp.], Novell [Inc.] and, to a lesser degree, Sun [Microsystems Inc.] are now. All of them have gotten steamrolled," he said.

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Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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