Carol Terentiak wants to tell partners about all the changes happening to Microsoft’s channel program, but doesn’t want to steal anyone’s thunder at July’s Worldwide Partner Conference in Denver. So we’ll have to wait for those announcements.But beyond that, Terentiak was open about Vista adoption, software-as-a-service’s momentum, changing VAR models, partner profitability and a lot more.Currently, Terentiak is trying to increase partners’ profiles in the market, especially with customers. She just launched the inaugural meeting for 40 partners who have achieved four or more Microsoft competencies. Some, she says, have seven. With this effort, Terentiak wants to see how Microsoft can add more value to them to reward their loyalty. She hopes that this initiative can be a pilot program for Microsoft.
CDN: Vista has been a talking point for many partners across Canada. Are you at all disappointed that the channel has not embraced it right off the bat?
Carol Terentiak: With respect to the worldwide, the Canadian subsidiary has had more engagement than any other subsidiary. We are leading this worldwide, so I am not disappointed at all in Canada. For Canadian partners, Vista is a new opportunity for business and revenue. About 25 per cent of all Gold partners have taken our training and are ramping up for Vista. There are indications that partners are moving forward with this.
CDN: Have you read SoftChoice’s report on Vista readiness? Did that at all concern you and do you believe you have to do something in the channel to get things going?
C.T.: Yes, I have read the report and I do know that Vista product managers have replied to that. This is not my area of expertise and I rely on experts who have spent the time evaluating these things and what it means to us and to the partners. (See page 13 They Said It for the response as well as a future issue of CDN Now online newsletter.)
CDN: How are you furthering partner profitability in your role at Microsoft Canada?
C.T.: We’ve talked about competencies and this can show profitability to those who do not have competencies and we will go out and advertise that. You have to promote the competencies to the customers to show them that these partners have the skill set to deliver the solutions. We will be adding four more specializations in the program for Vista. There is the Early Start program that helps partners ramp up early and develop solutions before exams or even before the product is launched.
CDN: Does the whole software-as-a-service model and its momentum in the market make what you want to do or accomplish in the channel a challenge?
C.T.: It is changing the direction of IT, but IT is always changing somewhat and you have to move with the trends and look at SaaS and Web 2.0. If you don’t you will lose out on these opportunities for revenue and profit. Microsoft is looking at it and partners should be looking at the new possibilities with SaaS and hosting. To date we have 70 hosting partners for Exchange and SharePoint who have a SaaS offering. Microsoft in the last year has doubled its commitment to hosting partners and dedicated more resources here in Canada to help them build their business. It is certainly growing.
CDN: AMI Research just published a study on the channel transforming itself from a VAR model to the value added provider. Do you see this happening in Canada?
C.T.: I think any partner not looking at changing their model and looking at the new revenue is missing a new opportunity. We see this in ISVs. They are probably the first off the block with this new opportunity. Microsoft has responded with its On Ramp program and so we have a SaaS pack to determine what is the right program for us and our VARs. This obviously changes the value in some cases, but it is not across the board. With Microsoft you will get a chance to choose.