Medium Business Solution Provider Competency Really provide value to partners or customers?

Medium Business Solution Provider Qualifications

Midsized business customers want partners that deeply understand their business process, infrastructure needs, and future growth costs.

[At Risk] By earning this competency you can show your customers your proven expertise in medium business market segmentation, establishing yourself as a leader among other IT generalists by offering customers the most current technology and IT solutions and focusing on what medium businesses need most. [At Risk]


Partners who achieve a competency receive a set of general or ―core‖ competency benefits (one time) and competency-specific benefits. For details on core benefits, see the section in this document entitled Competency Core Benefits. Competency-specific benefits are detailed below.





Without Essential Business Server there is no specific qualification from any of the above certifications would indicate specific Mid-Market skills. The entire category is in question if the value of certification can be simply achieved through regular certification exams which have no specific mid-market expertise. Customer references become the only differentiator which relies on a high degree of vigilance in the Microsoft Partner Organization to vet. In my experience this is not enforced and is impractical to implement or enforce.

Since this process no longer reflects a degree of differentiation as indicated above, it should be revamped. It should be revamped not because customers don’t need the skill set of a differentiated Mid-Market specialist, but because the certifications and requirement to meet this category can be achieved without any experience in the mid-market solution delivery paradigm. It would be dishonest under the current circumstances to continue this competency category since the branding associated could lead to mis-qualified or incidentally qualified partners winning deals over experienced partners who have relevant skills.

Jeff Loucks
Available Technology
Available Technology

Has Microsoft abandoned its mid-market comptency in the Microsoft Partner Network?

There is a big hole in the mid-market with the loss of the EBS product suite. The Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) announced last year at the World Wide Partner Conference included distinct categories around SMB qualified partners. There were two categories one for S and one for M. Although the small business category seems to be strong the medium business category lost its only unique product offering on March 5 when they canceled Essential Business Server.

As we approach the one year mark on the MPN its seem the competency has yet to take shape and even as the President of Microsoft’s Partner Association in Canada, I don’t have an answer to this question yet. So here comes the question.

Microsoft Partner Group, what are your plans for the mid-market competency? Allison or Pam can you layout the road map?

Thanks for your assistance.

Jeff Loucks
Available Technology
Available Technology

Express Pass and Nexus Toll Users of The Niagara Falls Bridge Commision

Have you been having problems with your Express Pass or Nexus for paying tolls crossing the Queenston-Lewiston or the Niagara Falls Rainbow bridge?

For people who have been using the pass system to pay tolls at these bridges and need to add funds to their pre-payment account here is some valuable information:

Website to prepay the funds:

Don’t Know your Nexus Card’s Express Pass Account Number?

If you use Nexus and do not have your account number ask for a receipt from the toll agent and your account number should show on that.

Who to contact if you need to find out your account number:

Contact Victor or Tammy at:


P.O. Box 395
Niagara Falls, ON  L2E 6T8
[T]:  905-354-5641
[F]:  905-353-6678 

United States:

5365 Military Road
Lewiston, NY  14092
[T]:  716-285-6322
[F]:  716-205-0678

Software Startups get Microsoft Software for free

Bizspark – Software Startups get what you need!

Microsoft has an exciting new program specifically designed to provide early stage Startups like yours with software, support, and visibility to help ignite your success. The program, called BizSpark, provides access to:

  • Software. Join BizSpark and you’re just clicks away from having access to current, full-featured development tools, including Visual Studio Team System, plus production licensing to develop and bring your solution to market.
  • Support. BizSpark provides you with professional technical support from Microsoft and connects you to a global community of business experts who can help guide you through the hurdles of growing your business.
  • Visibility. Through BizSpark, you’ll have the opportunity to achieve global visibility to an audience of potential investors, clients and partners.

Eligibility requirements are minimal: If you’re a

  • privately held company building a software-based product or service (even using open source code),
  • in business for fewer than three years, and with
  • less than USD$1M in annual revenue, you’re in!

To join BizSpark, you must be sponsored by a BizSpark Network Partner, such as Available Technology. You’ll find more program details here. When you’re ready to sign up, contact me at 425-577-7377 about sponsorship and get your enrollment code.

Once you have your enrollment code, joining BizSpark is fast and easy. No payment or credit card information is required, and there are no upfront costs. (Microsoft will assess a USD$100 program offering fee at the end of participation in the program, or the end of three years, whichever comes first.)

Get your Startup fired up! Visit the Microsoft Startup Zone  to learn more!

Available Technology Mentorship for Software Startups

Available Technology is offering a startup mentorship package. There is a lot more to the software business than writing code and Available Technology has been doing it for 16 years. My experience in executive roles with major industry associations coupled with deep resources with Microsoft and hundreds of Microsoft partners across North America means this package offers great value. As somone who has sold software solutions to the largest companies in the world, getting it right the first time can be the difference between believingi n yourslef and struggling for years. Contact us to get your custom 8 hour mentorship consultation for just $500. The package will help you get focused in any of the areas which are most applicable to your needs. Choose from:

  • Accounting Systems
  • Sales and Customer Management Systems
  • Channel Development and Social Networking
  • Professional IT systems and code mamangment
  • Collaboaration and Project Management
  • Contacts and Introductions
  • Business Plan Review and Structuring

” I beleive in the spirit and drive of high quality people who motivate themselves and strive to be creative”, said Jeff Loucks to Remond Magazine. ” Most just need a nudge in the right direction to be successful.”

Jeff Loucks
Available Technology
Available Technology
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Essential Business Server – The Product – The Vision


I was saddened to see Microsoft put EBS on the chopping block. I am writing this post wearing the original Code Name Centro T-shirt as an early founder of the product. I gave a lot of early input in to this great product’s future development starting in 2005-6.

The Vision

Truth be known, the soon to come V2 was far more like the early advice I gave to the team than V1. And the current strategy might be directly partially my fault given the feedback I gave as recently as two weeks ago at MVP summit on lightening the product to what I call “the Glue” that made it all work together as opposed to the heavy licensing package it became. I vividly remember sitting in product planning session early on saying the product did not need Exchange but that it needed to configure Exchange. You see at the time and today without EBS, Microsoft servers are Lego without the connectors requiring high degrees of skill to configure. Add the Lego connectors and configuring servers becomes child’s play which promotes better technology usage and greater IT investment.

I envisioned a “Simple Glue Product” which made it easier to drive solutions on top of Microsoft Server technologies for the mid market space. A series of tools that would give you the same feel Microsoft Office does but with all of the various server technologies that Microsoft makes. You may not remember that when you add an office app like Visio or Outlook it behaves like an integrated product even though you don’t always buy all the products together. They share a common architecture and planning. Using data from Word in Visio, Excel or Powerpoint is seamless and vice versa. Server Products should share the same architecture and product planning regimes.

So where is Microsoft investing? This is key. In my opinion, they are going to bring investment into the main line products such as Windows Server. Hopefully we see an architecture with more awareness built in so that products expose their technology prowess with less clicks and more tricks. This is clearly  in line with the feedback I gave starting 4 years ago and as recently as 2 weeks ago. We will see the knowledge of Mid Market influencing product development which will see Microsoft’s EBS investment pay for itself.

Did Cloud Investment Kill EBS? As for Cloud computing being the trend that killed EBS. I am more concerned today about the future of Microsoft’s investment in Cloud services than ever before. All of Microsoft’s cloud products are incubation products subject to the same pressures which ended EBS’s life. Granted the overarching strategy is in favor of cloud services but this too is a high risk strategy seeing Microsoft depart from its traditional strengths and reliant on Global Communications and Telco providers to decrease Internet costs while increasing bandwidth and reliability.

Should Partners invest in Incubations products from Microsoft in the current market? Partners should give sober second thought to supporting Microsoft’s initiatives in new markets at this time. Pressures from the global economy has Microsoft twittering to chop new products in their infancy. They will take care of the clients and they will make nice with the partners but no one should be betting their house on products without some serious Due Diligence and a solid knowledge of the risks involved. I would like to make myself available to any partner who is considering investing in emerging technologies with Microsoft to help them properly assess the combined market offerings. My experience here is of high value. Reach out and contact me at 425-577-7377.

Should Clients buy Incubations products from Microsoft? To this I can happily answer YES! Microsoft is displaying exceptional loyalty to its EBS customers. These people are making out very well as a result of their investment in EBS. Everyone should be jealous of the way Microsoft is treating their EBS clients.

As for EBS, V2 was product that combined the a technology offering never seen before in the market and had everyone involved chomping at the bit. The EBS team is top notch. A special reach out to Kevin, Nick, Eric(s), Julie, Kannan, Rex and the others.


Microsoft needs to invest in a solution offering portal which helps customers to buy the right product for their business. This would include both on premise and Cloud service offerings. EBS like other Microsoft products suffered from a complex consumption process that made it hard to sell and even harder to buy. Both partners and end users need for Microsoft to integrate the research, sales and implementation process to bring about a go to market vehicle which can be leveraged by many products. Microsoft tries to sell every product like it sold Office in 1999. The only advance in consumption since has been with online services and Microsoft has not applied the same model to its on premise solutions. Secondly, Microsoft needs to better integrate partners in to the solution chain offering greater rewards for their efforts.

A dieu, EBS looking forward to the excellent Microsoft Solutions you influence for mid market in the near future.

Jeff Loucks
Available Technology
Available Technology
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