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Microsoft Shakes Up Partner Organization

After nearly seven years running Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Group, Allison Watson is stepping aside to take on a new role in the company. She will be replaced by Jon Roskill, who previously oversaw Microsoft's commercial products businesses and before that he served in the company's developer organization.

Watson will assume the role of corporate VP of Microsoft's Business and Marketing Organization. A spokeswoman would only say that both Watson and Roskill will be at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference next month in Washington, D.C. to discuss the transition. Neither were available for comment.

Microsoft has also quietly, re-assigned Eduardo Rosini, who was corporate VP of the company's Small and Medium Business Solutions and Partners group. Rosini is now corporate VP Microsoft's Business Platform Marketing Group, covering SQL Server, middleware and data modeling tools, according to his bio, which was updated last month

As part of the reorganization that takes effect at the beginning of Microsoft's new fiscal year (July 1), Roskill will report to Rosini's replacement, Vahé Torossian, who was named corporate vice president of the Worldwide Small and Midmarket Solutions & Partners (SMS&P) Group. Before joining that group, Vahe, oversaw sales, marketing and operations in the Central and Eastern Europe region.

ASDF

Jon Roskill, new leader of Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Group.

Given Watson's long tenure in her role, the move was not as surprising as its abrupt timing, less than three weeks ahead of Microsoft's WPC. "This is a surprising time to be making a change like that so close to the partner conference," said Directions on Microsoft analyst Paul DeGroot, in a brief interview. "I am more surprised by the timing than anything else."

It begs the question, was this a typical Microsoft re-organization or is this part of a bigger shakeup in Microsoft's partner organization, said Howard Cohen, who heads up both the northeast region and New York chapter of the International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners (IAMCP). "When she was brought in, she was introduced by her predecessor at WPC," Cohen recalled. "It was like a coronation."

Cohen, DeGroot and others credit her with creating the existing Microsoft Partner Program. But there is considerable angst among pending changes to the Microsoft Partner Network that is due to kick in later this year. Microsoft is not commenting on whether the shift in management will impact the rollout of that program this year.

Watson's replacement, Roskill, is not well known in the channel but he is known by those associated with Microsoft's products group, according to Cohen. "His name is associated with a lot of positive things, he is well known and well liked in those circles," Cohen said.

Bringing in someone with roots in products and the developer organization may portend a greater focus on ISVs, said DeGroot. "It may mean emphasis on the developer community and on ISVs, which are escaping them to some extent," DeGroot said, "as current development shifts to things like mobile and so on where Microsoft doesn't have a presence."

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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