Microsoft Works Hard to Win Over Partners

At the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, prospective partners are asking tough questions as they contemplate joining forces with the software giant.

Editors Note: This is the third in a series of articles that examines Microsofts strategy of gaining market share and driving new solutions to market through its partner base.

BOSTON—Microsoft may not have answered all the questions prospective partners had when they attended a summit before the companys annual Worldwide Partner Conference here, but it certainly convinced many of them that they should indeed join forces with the software giant.

Microsoft invited some 320 potential new partners to attend the Partnering Executive Summit on July 10, where it tried to sell them on the benefits of partnering with Microsoft and explain why it is better positioned competitively than the platforms they are currently selling.

While a number of those prospective partners came with a myriad of questions and issues that they hoped would be answered at the day-long event on July 10, some were let down.

/zimages/1/28571.gifClick here to read more about how Microsoft is pulling out all the stops to woo new partners.

Richard Groves, the chief operating officer at Streamline Computing, which has been operating for six years delivering Linux clusters, is one such potential partner.

While he was upbeat about the summit and all the things he learned about Microsoft and partnering with it, some of his fundamental questions were not answered, he told eWEEK in an interview here.

Streamline had been hoping to hear about HPC supported applications that would allow it to address some of the needs of companies in the SMB space, as well as how Microsoft planned to deliver a consistent development environment and all the tools that go along with that.

"There was no mention of the development environment and the tool chain at Summit, and this is very important to us and to our customers," Groves said.

"Also, with regard to certification and accreditation, the HPC market is a completely new one to Microsoft and I wanted to hear what they planned to do on that front. Again, I did not."

Allison Watson, Microsofts corporate vice president for the worldwide partner group, told eWEEK that while she had received a lot of positive feedback from Summit attendees, "this is just the beginning of the journey."

She acknowledged that Microsoft needed to have more one-on-one meetings on-site, but noted that she did not expect all potential partner questions to be answered in the few days at the Summit and the partner conference.

Streamlines Groves agreed that the Summit had been informative and useful.

"I was impressed by the fact that Microsoft has such a lot of staff with so much enthusiasm, which is good to see. I was also surprised by the breadth of products they have and are bringing to market beyond the core Windows and Office brands," he said.

/zimages/1/28571.gifClick here to read more about how Microsoft is looking to new partners to drive its HPC and security offerings.

Groves was also interested in some of Microsofts perspectives, shared during the day in executive keynotes, especially by the prediction that some 10 percent of all servers sold worldwide would end up being HPC servers.

Another keynote on competitive platform issues, by Ryan Gavin, Microsofts director of platform strategy, looked at Windows as an operating system and how it was positioned competitively.

Groves take was that "hes a Microsoft employee and obviously favors Windows. I think there are other perspectives on the competitive front."

Next Page: "If Microsoft wants to get into a market, they will."