Dell To Buy Boomi

Boomi sort of sounds like something your editor's six-week-old son would do in his diaper, but whatever...

Posted by Lee Pender on 11/03/2010 at 1:23 PM0 comments


Microsoft To Change Dynamics Partner Compensation

This is the way of the future, and not just for Microsoft Dynamics. Mark our words: Microsoft is moving toward rewarding larger partners and sloughing off smaller ones, starting with the policy that will soon be in place for Dynamics compensation.

We're not saying that this is all bad, just that it's reality. Check out how Jeff Edwards, director of Microsoft Dynamics Partner Strategy, explained some of the changes to RCPmag.com:

"A new Dynamics Incentives Program, which will go into effect in January 2012, will add growth into Microsoft's calculations of partner margins, in addition to total revenues. Partner margins will go up by up to 20 percentage points if license revenue growth hits one-year and two-year targets, and if customer additions hit certain targets. Conversely, if growth isn't hitting Microsoft's targets, margins can go down by as much as 15 percentage points, Edwards said.

"Additionally, Microsoft will be separating license revenue targets from maintenance targets. 'Larger portions of contracts renewed will get paid more, smaller portions of contracts renewed will get paid less,'" he said.

"'The high-level message is pay for performance. A partner can make more than they do today selling Dynamics software. A partner can make less than they do today selling Dynamics software,'" Edwards said.

Simple, right? Well, yes...depending on what those revenue targets are and how they will play out in firms of various sizes. Larger firms with bigger sales forces and more consultants would seem to have an advantage here, and smaller partner shops that rely on deep relationships with a few customers might be in trouble. Remember that quote: "A partner can make less than they do today selling Dynamics software."

That hasn't been Microsoft's policy in the past, but it's likely to start permeating other aspects of the forthcoming Microsoft Partner Network, which, of course, is replacing the Microsoft Partner Program. It would be a bit harsh to say that the free ride is over for some partners, but growth is clearly going to be a much more important metric than it has ever been in the past.

For the smaller shop that's more about maintenance than aggressive growth, that's not good news. It is however, exactly what Microsoft wants. The days of Microsoft rewarding partners for treading water and opening its partner program more or less equally to bigger and smaller firms are ending. Microsoft's stock price is stagnant, and the company's future of growth is in doubt. Microsoft needs pit bulls, not lap dogs, in its partner program. And instead of letting the lap dogs feed, it's going to start kicking them to the curb.

Of course, the flipside of that is opportunity for any firm that can meet Microsoft's revenue numbers. Microsoft folks and other observers in the Dynamics area say that the key is for partners to move into microverticals -- really small slices of vertical markets. That's easier said than done, of course, and to some extent larger firms with more access to experts in specific fields are once again at an advantage there.

In any case, Dynamics looks like the test case for the direction of the Microsoft Partner Network in general. It will pay to be aggressive and, in all likelihood, larger rather than smaller. Failure to move in Microsoft's new direction will, in a fairly literal sense, not pay at all.

How comfortable are you with the changes in Dynamics compensation? How will this sort of change affect your business? Sound off at lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on 10/28/2010 at 1:23 PM2 comments


Microsoft Introduces Office 2011 for Mac

The title of this entry pretty much says it all, apart from some details about the product, such as Outlook and some collaboration stuff being part of it.

Posted by Lee Pender on 10/27/2010 at 1:23 PM1 comments


IBM To Buy Back $10 Billion in Stock

The weird thing here is that IBM's stock is at a high, not a low...but whatever.

Posted by Lee Pender on 10/27/2010 at 1:23 PM0 comments


HP Rolls Out Windows 7 Slate PC

Microsoft reports earnings Thursday afternoon, and with big announcements like Windows Phone 7 and Office 365 still creating flotsam and jetsam in various parts of the pundisphere, this week is a quiet one on the Microsoft news front.

So, it'll be a quiet one here at RCPU, too, as we take this opportunity to focus on a few other projects -- not that we don't love and appreciate you, dear readers, because we do. Anyway, the news this week is that HP has released Windows 7 tablet PC.

That might sound like a big deal, but it's really not. This isn't exactly an iPad killer; it's a slate targeted at particular vertical industries and not really meant for consumer use. Actually, it's pretty much exactly the kind of thing Microsoft should be doing -- uncool, useful, enterprise-focused and fairly niche oriented.

This, then, counts as good news in RCPU world, even if it's not big news. Honesty, we could do without big news for a few days, anyway.

Posted by Lee Pender on 10/27/2010 at 1:23 PM2 comments


Fake Microsoft Security Essentials Program Causing Trouble

Real Microsoft security applications have caused problems in the past, but this time, almost refreshingly, it's a fake version of Security Essentials that is going around as scareware.

Posted by Lee Pender on 10/25/2010 at 1:23 PM0 comments


Sony Stops the Walkman in Its Tracks

Yes, we're talking about the portable cassette player here. Sony was still selling them in Japan(!) but will finally cease production more than 30 years after the famed device's debut. The Zune of its day...haha, just kidding...the iPod of its day, the Walkman will go down as one of the great relics of the 1980s and the device that ultimately killed the boombox (held on the shoulder, naturally) and ushered in the era of tuning everybody else out in favor of, well, some tunes. Vaya con Dios...

Posted by Lee Pender on 10/25/2010 at 1:23 PM1 comments


Ray Ozzie Challenges Microsoft To Dream Small

Ray Ozzie, as it turns out, is a pretty darn good writer. The soon-to-be-ex-Microsoft chief software architect laid out effectively, at times even beautifully, his vision for the future of computing in an entry on his new blog.

Lots of folks have taken a shot at dissecting Ozzie's little manifesto; our favorite interpretation comes from esteemed Microsoft watcher and Redmond magazine columnist Mary Jo Foley. Allow us, though, if you will, to break down in the very simplest and most direct of terms what Ozzie says so eloquently: Microsoft is too fat, too slow and too dependent on fading technologies.

Oh, sure, Ozzie gives his employer all kinds of credit for making headway in the cloud and in service-oriented computing. After all, he has to have been doing something there for the last five years, right? But the bulk of Ozzie's prose is a gentle but convincing indictment of a company that, at its core, is still all about Windows and Office and has allowed itself to be caught and passed certainly in the mobile arena and probably in the cloud as well.

It's clear that Ozzie, never the most forceful of public communicators, takes some of Microsoft's Windows-first mentality personally and doesn't really appreciate it too much. Just read this paragraph from his blog entry and replace the word "complexity" with the word "Windows:"

"Complexity kills. Complexity sucks the life out of users, developers and IT. Complexity makes products difficult to plan, build, test and use. Complexity introduces security challenges. Complexity causes administrator frustration."

OK, so maybe he's not addressing Windows directly there...but he could be, and his tone leads us to think in that direction. "Complexity kills" seems to not-so-loosely translate to "obsession with fat-client Windows will be your downfall, Microsoft." And he's right. As Ozzie says so artfully -- and he's hardly the only person to say it, nor is this the first time he's said it -- computing as a concept and a practice is changing. It's about services, simplicity, thinness and flexibility -- four words that don't exactly describe Windows.

If we might extrapolate a bit from Ozzie's text, Windows should be a necessary evil at Microsoft, the revenue driver that the company can't quit producing but definitely should put on the development back burner. Instead, Microsoft talks a good game about mobile and the cloud but doesn't show enough real commitment to either; Windows is still where the company focuses the bulk of its efforts, and that's a bit like trying to make the best 2D TV in what is rapidly becoming a 3D world.

Ozzie challenges Microsoft to dream, but he doesn't want the company to dream big. Microsoft already owns big in the software industry. It needs to head toward small -- not an easy destination for a battleship of a company with a massively complex core product to reach but one it needs to set a course for nonetheless. The question now is whether anybody in Redmond is listening to the eloquently soft-spoken short-timer as he reveals his final prophecy for the company.

What's your take on Ray Ozzie's vision for Microsoft and computing? How is Microsoft set to take on the future of the industry? Send your thoughts to lpender@rcpmag.com.  

Posted by Lee Pender on 10/25/2010 at 1:23 PM0 comments


A Lack of Traction with Microsoft Online Services?

Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Scott Bekker:

It's always interesting to scan through the comments at the infamously anonymous employee blog Mini-Microsoft when there's a major executive shakeup in Redmond, like Ray Ozzie's pending departure. Reaction to the Ozzie news is mixed over there. But more specifically, there's an anonymous post from a commenter claiming to be on the corporate sales force that's relevant to partners and the Microsoft Online Services effort. You can never tell, but there's enough detail in the post to make it seem credible. Money quote:

"The company's commercial Online Services offering has nowhere near the traction that the executives and others would like everyone to believe. In FY09 and FY10, the sales force gave away BPOS, so we could hit one of [Microsoft COO Kevin Turner's] scorecard metrics. Customers took it because it did not cost them anything. In the last two years, the vast majority of these customers have not put it in production either. Now we are trying to figure out how to get our partners to help get it deployed."

Posted by Lee Pender on 10/21/2010 at 1:23 PM1 comments


Benioff Prods Microsoft over Ozzie Departure

Where might Ray Ozzie turn up next? Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff sure did have some sweet things to say about him this week. Of course, Benioff, likely still stinging from losing a patent battle with Microsoft, also poked a little fun at his larger rival, suggesting that Ozzie's resignation "happened much faster than a Microsoft upgrade." OK, that's a little funny.

Posted by Lee Pender on 10/21/2010 at 1:23 PM0 comments


Spread the News: Microsoft Office 365 Wins New York City

No Ray Ozzie? No problem! Actually, Ray Ozzie deserves a lot of credit for the contract Microsoft trumpeted this week: a deal with the City of New York that features online services and will include Office 365.

Take that, Google! The search giant beat Microsoft to win the battle of Los Angeles, signing the California city to a Google Apps deal late last year. Never to be outdone, though, Microsoft has snagged the big municipal prize, New York City. If anybody doubted it, Microsoft is relevant in the cloud now.

So, which Microsoft partner cleaned up in this New York deal? Uh, actually... Apparently, this was a direct-sales deal, and one that "unbundles" Microsoft's applications and services at that.

Well, now. Hopefully the direct-sales element isn't setting a precedent here. It might very well be, though, especially on the Web-services side. Microsoft has not hidden its plans to sell online services directly to customers. Now, we're seeing that plan in action.

How does it look, partners? Sure, maybe there will be some room for partners to provide services or add-ons here -- or maybe not. The details aren't clear; the contract isn't even final yet. But the news to start spreading on this New York deal seems to be both good and bad. It's great that Microsoft is winning high-profile cloud contracts; it's not so great to see that partners aren't necessarily part of them.

What's your take on Microsoft's New York City deal? Send your thoughts to lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on 10/21/2010 at 1:23 PM0 comments


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