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Microsoft Pushes Partners to SCE, DPM 2010

Partners often don't think of opportunity when it comes to Microsoft's management technologies that are branded under the System Center umbrella. But Microsoft is making a major marketing push to get partners involved with two System Center products that were released to manufacturing today. The products are System Center Essentials 2010 and Data Protection Manager 2010.

David Mills, a senior product manager at Microsoft, acknowledged to my colleague Lee Pender that Microsoft has more evangelizing to do with partners on the management side. "There are still a lot of partners who are not aware that Essentials is out there," Mills said. "There's a lot of noise in [the management] space." But Mills also said that because of the number of Microsoft partners and all the potential mid-market customers, the opportunity for partners to help those customers manage their networks is relatively huge.

Microsoft is making a sustained effort to get the word out to the channel ahead of the products' general availability. The effort included a Partner Readiness Week for System Center Essentials 2010 in late February. During that week, Microsoft offered five online training courses about SCE 2010 and DPM 2010.

In a webcast last week on DPM and SCE (pronounced "ski"), RCP Executive Editor Jeff Schwartz talked to Dave Sobel, CEO of Evolve Technologies, a Washington, D.C. area Microsoft Certified Professional partner company. (Sobel's main claim to fame is his cover photo on the February issue of RCP magazine, but I may be biased.)

Sobel told Schwartz that he's already talking to customers about the products and sees a lot of opportunities for his firm.

"We can help them with the installation and the configuration and get [customers] all ready because we have the experience of doing it in multiple environments, and we can tailor it to their environments," Sobel said. "Then we leave them with the tools and help them when they need the partner for escalation on the parts they want assistance with or for the new project work as an add-on."

So far, Sobel said customers have been interested in having the management pieces that SCE 2010 and DPM 2010 provide, particularly the simplified management of the environment when they want to enable their people to do a little bit more, especially on the virtualization side.

"As more and more mid-market organizations are virtualizing, this is a great way for them to keep a handle on correct management of all of those moving parts. What we've been finding is that this is a great, simplified platform to let our customers dig in deep and manage their environment," Sobel said.

Customers are in two camps, Sobel said. Some already have management technology that SCE 2010, especially, could replace or consolidate. Others know they have problems, but they're not sure how to solve them.

"In general, most organizations have some kind of management technology. But often that can be a lot of management process where they run around and do inventory, or they've got these four or five little tools that aren't really a unified piece. Or they have some Tivoli and older management tools or they have some of the tools that come from the hardware vendors," Sobel said. "They're really looking for one that's more robust. I think it's a little bit more greenfield than it is displacement. But you do find that there are these homegrown mismatches of pieces that are doing the management already."

Stay tuned to RCP's May issue for a lot more detail on the partner opportunities in the SCE and DPM releases. In the meantime, check out the news story or listen to a replay of the webcast (Registration required).

Posted by Scott Bekker on 04/19/2010 at 1:23 PM


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