WASHINGTON — July 13, 2010 — More than 5,000 members of Microsoft’s partner community from over 125 countries have descended on Washington, D.C., this week to participate in the Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC), July 11-15, an annual gathering that has grown into one of Microsoft’s premier events. While the official agenda hints at occasional diversions from all things technology-driven — from World Cup soccer parties in sports bars to former president Bill Clinton’s midweek keynote address urging humanitarian efforts — at the heart of it, WPC is all about partners experiencing the latest product innovations from Microsoft and learning new skills that they can put to work for their clients.
Joe Matz, corporate vice president, Worldwide Licensing and Pricing at Microsoft.
In keynote addresses, workshops and panel discussions, some of Microsoft’s most senior executives — Steve Ballmer, CEO; Kevin Turner, chief operating officer; Stephen Elop, president of the Microsoft Business Division; and Bob Muglia, president of the Server and Tools Business — will provide insight into the company’s product road map and delve into topics that include Microsoft’s enhanced channel incentive programs, customer interactions with consumer products, and strategies for original equipment manufacturer (OEM) distribution.
Microsoft Volume Licensing will be a common topic in many of the sessions at WPC this year. At the event, Joe Matz, corporate vice president of Worldwide Licensing and Pricing at Microsoft, said that some of the recent developments in the company’s licensing and financing programs can significantly help partners realize new business opportunities and enable them to succeed in the cloud.
“We rely heavily on our partner network to take the best from Microsoft’s innovations and deliver it in strategic ways that help businesses, government and healthcare institutions succeed,” said Matz. “As emerging trends in cloud computing and virtualization continue to grow, partners are realizing new business opportunities with licensing, and they are discovering how Microsoft Financing can help their customers acquire and manage Microsoft software and services.”
Refining the MAP Toolkit
In an interactive session on the final day of WPC, Denis Ford, senior product manager of Worldwide Licensing and Pricing, will demonstrate a new free software usage tracker feature of the Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit, which helps customers evaluate their software asset management needs.
The Software Usage Tracker feature of the Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit makes it easier for customers to track and manage licenses in their IT environment.
The MAP Toolkit is an agentless tool designed to simplify and streamline the IT infrastructure planning process across multiple scenarios through network-wide automated discovery and assessments. Using the MAP tool, customers can easily view software license reports on actual use of five key Microsoft server products: Windows Server, Exchange Server, SharePoint Server, SQL Server and System Center Configuration Manager. Matz pointed out that Microsoft is providing licensing management guidance white papers to help customers get acquainted with the tool’s reports and Microsoft’s rules governing Client Access Licenses (CAL) licensing.
“With the new Software Usage Tracker, partners can help their customers understand their CAL license positions and forecast their IT requirements more accurately than ever before,” said Matz. “This new software usage tracker feature of MAP will make it much easier for customers to track and manage licenses in their IT environment.”
Customers can download MAP and read the new Guide to Accessing Windows Server Licensing, a guidance white paper for using the new Software Usage Tracker functionality in the MAP Toolkit. To learn more about MAP, visit http://www.microsoft.com/map.
Growing Businesses With Financing Solutions
With the global economy beginning to recover, organizations are looking for affordable ways to finance their IT purchases. To meet that need, Microsoft now offers, through financing providers, world-class IT financing solutions that help partners close more deals and improve cash flow by offering affordable terms on software and solutions through Microsoft Financing.
At WPC, Microsoft Financing is hosting a session with Brian Madison, general manager of Microsoft Financing, and Steve Hall, CEO of Microsoft Gold certified partner District Computers, addressing this opportunity. The executive panel will discuss flexible financing options that enable partners to close more deals and realize new business opportunities.
Since 2003, Microsoft Financing has been helping partners expand their customers’ IT purchasing power with easy, flexible and affordable payment options aligned to the customer’s budget. Madison outlined two new developments in particular that could increase sales, resuscitate cash flow and deepen customer relationships. The first is an expanded relationship with multiple financing providers to offer IT financing solutions under the Microsoft Financing brand in 15 countries. The second is the launch of a new SmartPay portal with a wealth of resources for partners to obtain quotes for customers and submit and track applications.
“By expanding the number of financing providers by country and business sector, Microsoft provides partners with expanded possibilities to sell payment options that cover total IT solutions and help guide customers to the Microsoft products they need to grow their business,” Madison said. “To help partners quickly advance business opportunities, the SmartPay platform takes the guesswork out of the process for financing deals.”
This brand-new Ford Fusion with SYNC will be presented at WPC to a winner selected from partners who demonstrate familiarity with the new Microsoft Financing SmartPay portal and Microsoft Financing’s offerings.
Sharing the speaker’s podium with Madison, District Computers’ Steve Hall showcased the Maryland-based managed services company’s success with Microsoft Financing. By favoring Microsoft Financing programs over leasing options and bank loans, Hall said that District Computers had increased average sales by 50 percent, accelerated its sales process, improved cash flow and strengthened customer relationships.
“Microsoft Financing allows us the flexibility to go after business that we couldn’t even consider previously,” says Hall. “Having experienced a series of outstanding successes by leveraging Microsoft Financing in past bids, we now include them in every standard bid process.”
Since the company’s first success with Microsoft Financing in February, District Computers has already financed seven deals through the program. Hall adds that these financing deals have been divided fairly evenly across hardware, software licenses, and his firm’s managed services.
In support of this strategy, Allison Watson, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Business and Marketing Group for North America, says: “We’ve opened up the number and quality of the financing providers that are looking at doing financing for partners. One of the key things that they are now equipped to do is help partners who are seeking small-business customers migrate over to cloud scenarios.”
Forecast: Cloud Moving In
The industrywide shift to the cloud and the growing business opportunity that this transition presents to partners was perhaps the most universally recurring discussion at almost all WPC sessions. More than 3,000 partners migrated their business to the cloud this year and more than 10,000 customers and 5,000 applications are already ready to deploy on Windows Azure.
Reiterating Microsoft’s strong reliance on its partner network to deliver pathbreaking solutions built on Microsoft technologies, Matz said that Microsoft’s ongoing endeavor to make further innovations in such areas as cloud computing will continue to open up new business opportunities for partners.
“We continue to nurture our relationship with our partners by keeping pace with emerging trends,” says Matz. “As the cloud becomes more and more compelling to businesses, our goal for the foreseeable future is to embrace this trend with our partners, evolve our licensing programs accordingly and continue to evangelize the cloud as a shared opportunity for success and reinvention.”