How about a bit of a “Virtual WPC”?  (for the record I wasn’t in Boston for the WPC… but just getting the info from other MS/SBSC partners and bloggers)


Watch Steve Ballmer’s webcast….


Then listen to these video podcasts…..


Read Susanne’s blog…and Tavis’s blog and Anne’s blog and Happyfunboy … and watch Technorati…and Vlad….


and then here the feedback from a SMB partner (not posting the name..but posting his notes as is so you can hear direct from him for his views)… so without further ado.. a bit of “Virtual WPC”


On the exhibition Floor
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Nothing is “e” anything anymore.  The prefix “e” has gone.

Everyone is doing CRM but the ones clearly making money at it have got “addons” to offer and have vertical marketed in their add on.  People trying to just sell CRM look like nothing against the ones who have something.

Next biggest market is Managed Support.  Microsoft have a raft of integrated solutions – starting with the new WUS built into SBS2003 R2 through Operations Manager and into Enterprise Manager. 

Next is data security. 


Keynote 1 – Ballmer
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Microsoft’s take is that the next things are:

1.  VISTA is so exciting (well according to Steve Ballmer)

2.  The new office system as an element of 5 (below).

3.  LIVE subscription based and advertising supported feeds for LIVE Virtual Earth, CRM, Search

4.  “Antigen” security at the edge, on the server and on the client desktop as part of an Enterprise Security Solution – to be called FOREFRONT
(Susan – my take away from TechEd was that they were stressing this cutesy wootsy name too much and not driving home that Security starts FIRST with process and policy and THEN technology…Forefront is the branding for their security products… you have to first do a risk analysis to determine what is appropriate for your firm and then deploy the technology)

5.  UNIFIED – is a mixture of upgraded Exchange 2007, Sharepoint Portal Server 2007, Live Communication Server 2007 and Communicator 2007 plus Office 2007.  Using Sharepoint and SQL to “mash it all together” you can VOIP (using your office server) and integrate Instant messaging, email, phone and data (from CRM or wherever) in an Outlook/Sharepoint
interface.
(Susan – I’m not sure I want VOIP on my SBS server and I have to buy Live Communication Server separately now… and it ain’t cheap.. granted there’s a potential for a peer to peer IM in Vista that someone pinged about …but I have the ability to use Communicator 2005 and don’t because it’s too much.. I don’t want to show my employees all the bells and whistles that I don’t want them to have)

Keynote 2 – Watson
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Shortage of trained IT individuals (40,000)
1,000,000 Server sales potential to SMB between now and 2009 when the line will flat out
Too complex a market for shops to do everything – even in the SMB  market (I’m not too sure about the strength of the statement – though I will go along with the trend)
Need to strategically partner with other skill sets.
Need to train and certify to differentiate yourself from the junk guys who will come along due to the skills shortage.  MS will be pushing the need to work with Certified Partners in order to get the job done  right.
  (Susan this is my point about recommending the right technology to a client and it’s not ethical if I’m not trained to support the client in that technology.. if the client needs a Mac or Linux box…either you get trained… or you partner with another person.. same is true for firewalls.. it’s safer to either get one brand and stick with it …or hire someone to train you)

Microsoft recognizing the difficulty for small shops to identify the components of the MS stack to sell as a solution. MS introducing the “Demo Showcase” a tool to drill down according to market, who you are meeting, etc and offer correct software solutions and scripts to take to sales pitches –  basing it around the “people ready” business which they plan on pushing for three years – at least 2 years and 6 months past the “normal” marketing cycle.  The partner site is getting a major makeover in August to help sit alongside this tool and to help you find partners to work on jobs.

Keynote 3
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Outline of the Server Market – MS have recently become the MAIN Server OS provider, Unix is dying (getting replaced by Linux) but Linux is shrinking too.  Netware is dying (though not gone)
Linux is primarily in the mainframe market on High Performance Scalable Servers.  MS are going after this market with Windows Server HPC The main thing to watch out for is in Longhorn.  Longhorn will be licensed by processor – not CAL.  Longhorn will allow you to run Virtual Servers which you can load as many of as you have the horsepower to run on your processor…….  The implication is that your servers can respond to demand.  If it needs extra application serving – it could unload the SQL server is if it not in use – for example.  The Virtualization Server will allow you to do more test and experiment in something closer to your production environment.
SQL 2005 has blown away Oracle and IBM Database solutions………..
There was an aggressive statement about going after the end to end security market based on Antigen (which will be renamed – can’t  remember what….)

More and More tools and applications are planned to Interface through one Interface so there will be less need to switch Windows.  Think CRM appearing in Outlook.  That is the “look” that will be used.   Demonstrated with the System Center 2007 software to do managed services at clients running the Equivalent of Microsoft Operations Manager  (can’t remember the new 2007 name right now!).  The reporting is beautiful and can be included with your monthly invoice to clients.

One Gold Partner demonstrated how they already do this based in Boston with a mash up of existing technologies.
  (Susan – SCE 2007 or System Center Essentials 2007 is what this is called.  Virtualization is/will be huge.. with VPC now free, Virtual server now free… man this is the age of virtualization and in fact next month in Fresno our monthly meeting will be on virtualization)


Windows VISTA Briefing
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The premise is that for the same money the software will have more features That hardware pricing for performance falls by 10% a year MS will market on Three fronts with (5 versions of Vista – duh…….) Fronts are – Consumer (Home Premium), Small Business (Vista Business),
Enterprise (Vista Ultimate) The Home Basic will not even get mentioned in the USA (though you can bet that we will see it on very budget PC’s)
Windows Vista Search uses one set of index files to integrate CRM3.0, Outlook, Office 2007 and “On computer” files.  This hugely improves the performance of search over current Windows Desktop Search.  Future apps will use the same index files (there is an Enterprise version available to run on the server so an across Enterprise search uses one set of index files held on the server for all workstations).
MS see Vista deployment (early days) as for – Win 98, Win 2000 users or people who do serious ROI calculations who should benefit.  XPSP1 – possibly, XPSP2 – not yet. (
Susan – and be careful with your small businesses with LOB apps… as much as I’m getting used to Vista and it’s aero and it’s UAC isn’t THAT annoying… you’ll need to test those LOB apps ..in fact I’ll be bringing in a vista into the office next week to start going down the list of what works and what doesn’t.. and start testing that Office 2007 as well)

“SEARCH” is a whole new technology

Vista will “self heal” stuff people screw up (better at self healing – not screwing up!)
Extra diagnostics reporting through SBS of exactly what went wrong when the computer crashed.  Way better than Event Logs. Piracy will be tougher because more features like A/V, defender and downloads will not work on pirated copies. 

Volume Keys will now call home and activate – which they don’t right now in XP (this was hinted at – not explicitly stated)
(Susan – as long as Microsoft is WAY more honest and up front with their WGA stuff… they TOTALLY blew it being evasive and not honest in their stupid beta rollout of WGA)


Others (in no particular order)

Desktop SQL is getting renamed SQL Express

Small Business Accounting 2007+ Outlook 2007 + Business Contact Manager 2007 is a pretty credible CRM lite for a single person business. Includes embedded PayPal invoicing, List it on eBay from your inventory and take credit cards from just about anyone or link to a Chase Merchant Account.

Small Business Accounting 2007 is here to stay – for the moment. Microsoft have committed to keeping try to push it – roughly along the lines that we were thinking – wait till Quickbooks is due to renew and then try and sell it to folks.  Decision to stick with it will be made around 2009.  They need to see more CPA uptake.  Europeans are  DESPERATE for it to succeed.  They are stuck with horrific SAGE Accounting and really want to get people off it.
  (Susan – yeah.. I keep telling my CPA listserves that I see WAY more buzz for SBA over on my IT community than my CPA community.. Quickbooks is deeply entrenched over here and change for CPAs is hard..but get your USA CPAs on the MPAN program and on action pack… it’s a win win for you and your CPA clients.. they would truly and utterly be INSANE not to sign up for the action pack)

Microsoft Retail – Same as Quickbooks Point of Sale.  Includes reporting back into Quickbooks!

Use or Download the Infrastructure Optimization Kit at –
http://microsoftio.com

August 15th – Download all slide decks, sessions, Hands On Lab images (many on CRM) from www.wpc06.com

Search for Enterprise – beta due at end of July.  Will combine, Office Documents, Vista Files, Sharepoint Sites, Web Content, Outlook, File Shares, CDM and all SQL databases.  Includes built in connectors for many other data base models like Oracle etc.

Communication Server 2007 – They are partnered with HTC (the people who do my iMate phone).  The idea is that Outlook will deliver connectivity by email, Communicator (IM for Enterprise), VOIP all off the Outlook Dashboard.  The demo was impressive.  In fact every demo I saw was
impressive, worked and was clearly running on better again builds of Vista – probably with the beta reporting code stripped out.  Even  modest hardware was running it WAY better than our betas.

SBS 2003 R2 – Basically adds WUS, The ability to run OTHER Exchange servers downstream of it as backend servers and the ability to DC on Branch Office Servers. 
(Susan – the ability to DC on branch office servers is NOT new.. SBS has been able to add member servers that are additional domain controllers since…like SBS 4.0?  As Jeff Middleton confirmed.. since DAY 1, October of 1997.  I’m not sure why they are making it out like R2 is the first to do this…. we can do this member server stuff now.. what is changed is the CAL story in the R2 era where we can add a SQL 2005 workgroup on a separate server and just need to buy the license for that SQL box and we need no SQL cals)

CRM Live – CRM for those who can’t afford it installed – coming soon

Office Live beta – go online and try it – quick and dirty instant workspaces.

Break fix is currently 70% of most IT departments’ budgets leaving only 30% for projects and new ideas.  ROI from 2007 software tools is to reverse this figure and so empower businesses to really create new projects that deliver

$1 today buys 277times the computing power it did 10 years ago (though to be fair the software demands have risen too)

By year end 2005 – 59% of new Windows servers were 64bit  By year end 2006 it will be closer to 100% (excluding the Small Business Product)
(Susan yes, remember that SBS Longhorn will be ONLY 64bit.. so buy that 64bit hardware now including your desktop so you can have virtual 64 bit boxes (using vmware))

HPC Cluster Server is to compete with Linux which is currently used on 40% of scalable clustered servers.

This is cool – “Out the box” thinking uses for Virtual Server 2005 R2 – Virtualize (create a VHD image) an old Windows NT server then move the virtual image to new hardware.  Restart – useful for when you just have to keep an NT4 server in service to run an LOB but the hardware is dead
on its feet.  In a small server farm – virtualize each server at night onto two spare servers.  If a server goes down – start one of the virtual ones while you deal with it – Best backup you can have?…… Why two?  You might need interoperability between two servers that have gone down.  Reduces hardware spares by 80% – Significant if you need 100% availability and carry 100% redundancy.

Use the new CAL licensing in Longhorn which is processor based to run any images of anything from the Enterprise suite on an as needs basis.


Coming soon – System Center Essentials – Allows managed Servers across  a series of small server groups without having to go to full System Center.  Creates reports which you can send on to clients to justify your Managed Server fees….

We are in year 1 of a 5 year boom for IT.  It will be followed by a small boom through 2010 then a decline that will mirror these for three years!

Buyers are more and more picking specialists with a track record in a vertical.

If you are a specialist you will be faster to market when things change in your specialty.

Small Businesses with a generalist support person on staff generally save 20% by outsourcing their IT in the first year and 9% per year thereafter.  (Gartner – I think)

Absolutely avoid opportunistic takeovers – the person selling is  getting rid of a dead duck.

There were lots of terrible attempts at defining the “People Ready Software/Business” in each session.  Kevin Turner the new Chief Operations Officer – offered a slide which was the best definition I  saw of what the Customer’s version is and gave you a clear idea where you
could engage.


Steve Ballmer Keynote –
http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/exec/steve/2006/07-11WPC2006.mspx

Allison Watson Corporate VP Worldwide Partner Group’s slide (1302) told Partners how we should be more People Ready
Her Keynote at –
http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/exec/watson/07-11-06wwpc06.mspx

I’ve not failed – just found 10,000 ways that don’t work – Thomas Edison

VERY Clearly Stated Messages from Turner’s Keynote (I paraphrase) We need partners for this to work and for us all to grow.  We are too horizontal.  You guys do the verticals.  We have been listening and  will try and deliver – you can hold us accountable.

We are here to push Google off the desktop and not let it get into the Enterprise.

We are here to bury Notes, Novell, Oracle, Unix and Linux and Big Blue

We are here to do WAY better at engaging clients and customers.  We need to be better than Big Blue who are very good at this at this.

Microsoft’s Mission Statement – To enable people and businesses throughout the world to realize their full potential


(Susan — so there you go — one partners view of the WPC in Boston)

 

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