Microsoft Rewards Innovation with Solution and Partner of the Year Awards

Microsoft Rewards Innovation with Solution and Partner of the Year Awards

REDMOND, Wash., July 10, 2000 — It’s no understatement to say that technology is remaking the world. On every continent, computer and Internet technologies have dramatically changed the way people live, work and learn, driven the economy to new heights, and given businesses the tools they need to remain competitive in dynamic markets. At the heart of that revolution are Microsoft’s valued business partners and solutions providers.

To recognize those contributions, Microsoft annually presents its Solution and Partner of the Year Awards to honor Microsoft managed partners that have developed innovative solutions on the Microsoft platform and brought distinct benefits to business users and consumers worldwide.

This year, the Microsoft Solution and Partner of the Year Awards will be presented at Fusion 2000, the company’s premiere partner event slated for July 14-17 at the World Congress Center and Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Awards will be presented in six categories ranging from Platform Solution of the Year to MCSP Partner of the Year. Already, Microsoft has whittled down a huge field of solution providers to 29 finalists , each demonstrating a singular commitment to innovation, applicability and customer return on investment.

“Narrowing down the hundreds of nominees to just a handful of finalists was an extremely difficult task,”
said Ian Rogoff, vice president of partner strategy, management and programs for Microsoft’s Enterprise and Partner Group.
“Microsoft has the privilege of working with thousands of outstanding partners each year. These particular finalists not only met the judging criteria, but their individual case studies stood out as exemplary examples of partners adopting Microsoft technology to deliver the highest level in customer solutions. We truly appreciate the support of our partners and their involvement in Microsoft technology.”

The following North American finalists combined Microsoft technology with their own unique talents and insights to solve pressing customer challenges: Visalign, nominated for Business Solution of the Year; Breakwater Technology Consulting, nominated for Platform of the Year; and QuickStart Technologies, nominated for CTEC Training Partner of the Year.

A High-Powered Solution from Visalign

Not long ago, energy companies were considered staid, lumbering giants — typically not too concerned with improving their business operations. Not anymore. Today, the energy market is quickly deregulating, creating tremendous pressure for companies to cut costs, speed service and boost their public image.

Case in point: mid-Atlantic giant Conectiv Energy. Faced with deregulation, Conectiv had to find ways to reduce its operating costs and speed service. At the same time, it needed to maintain data accuracy as it transferred customer data back and forth between energy providers and billing agents. Another goal: to rapidly develop a new business model for delivering energy that would allow it to better attract, retain and serve customers. Its EDI and value-added network (VAN) requirements, however, were slowing fulfillment of all these goals.

Using Microsoft technology, Visalign’s e-business development team solved Conectiv’s most pressing challenges. Team members substantially streamlined the company’s data flow with its business parties so that information didn’t have to travel through so many ports to final destinations. The Visalign solution reduced a $200,000 per month investment in data transfer to less than $20,000, and cut the resolution of data interchange problems from a day to five minutes.

“Our solution essentially created the first generation of BizTalk,”
said Jayla Boire, Visalign’s director of marketing.
“Our close relationship with Microsoft means that we’re always aware of and included in the decision-making on new products under development. So, we knew that BizTalk was on the way. We were able to innovate a custom application of BizTalk technology to enable trading of data with business parties and partners, and third-party entities.”

Visalign also used such Microsoft technologies as Microsoft Exchange Info Store, Outlook 2000, Microsoft Exchange Collaboration Data and SQL Server. The solution allows for EDI and XML trading with partners and suppliers via the VAN and the Internet. In the end, it provides data control, real-time reporting of business-critical data, and an automated business process for sending and receiving data.

Windows Opens Doors in Medical Research

The Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) in Grand Rapids, Mich., wanted to make sure it hit the ground running when its doors opened in 1999. Easier said than done, given its ambitious goals of not only carrying out research and information gathering, but also enabling researchers and scientists to access its data any time, any place, regardless of the technology they used. Not only that — the institute wanted to speed up finding new ways of using its research to find new cures.

Breakwater Technology Consulting provided the solution in one complete platform.
“We went in and implemented a total solution, based on the Windows 2000 Server and Active Directory,”
said Kevin Flack, principal technology architect at Breakwater.
“We developed a platform that encompasses just about every Microsoft product, from Microsoft Exchange for communications and messaging to Windows Web Services for Web pages, as well as mass database storage in any format on SQL Server 7.0 and a beta version of SQL Server 2000. Researchers use Microsoft Site Server to easily search and find data and then personalize it on their desktops to help them in their analyses. This solution was exactly what they were looking for.”

In short, Microsoft technologies allowed VARI not only to work better internally, but also to allow outside research organizations to easily communicate and collaborate.

According to Flack, Microsoft was key in enabling Breakwater to solve VARI’s challenges.
“It was a seamless integration between Breakwater, VARI and Microsoft. We gathered the requirements and figured out how to use the software. But Microsoft did a great job in helping us get over any technical barriers and offering us networking opportunities to come up with additional ideas that we might not have considered.”
Working with Microsoft’s Windows 2000 Rapid Deployment Program, Breakwater also implemented the Windows 2000 platform and Active Directory by the time Windows 2000 was released.

VARI researchers can now use Microsoft’s technologies in highly intuitive ways to conduct real-time analysis of their data.
“This solution was actually a first for us in that we took all the Microsoft tools and integrated them in one total package,”
said Flack.
“We didn’t just install the software — we’ve helped them to exploit it.”

L.A. County Gets Jump from QuickStart

Like many jurisdictions, Los Angeles County (LAC) constantly seeks ways to leverage technology to control costs, boost worker efficiency and improve service to residents. With the help of QuickStart Technologies, it is now meeting all of these goals.

LAC, the largest county in the United States, needed to provide its IT professionals with training on Microsoft technologies. Above all, it wanted to train employees on how to build and run Web sites so that citizens could use the Internet for better, quicker service. Thanks to Irvine-based QuickStart, it discovered a high-quality, creative training solution that quickly gave its workers the skills they required.

QuickStart used its Web-enabled administrative tool, Premier Access — based on Microsoft’s Readiness Framework — to provide unique Microsoft training, administration and certification for LAC employees. Leveraging Microsoft Official Curriculum, QuickStart offers custom courses on Site Server, Visual Interdev, Web Fundamentals, SQL and Visual Basic, as well as Microsoft Exchange 2000, Windows 2000 and Commerce Server.

Because of QuickStart training, LAC IT workers now run robust, user-friendly Web pages, allowing county citizens to handle many routine tasks through the Internet, including tax payments, reporting for jury duty, ordering public services and applying for permits.

“We’re blending the best possible technology with the best possible people to give them the best possible training experience,”
said Steve Dosier, vice president of technology training services at QuickStart.
“We’ve provided an entire training experience that’s innovative because we balanced technology-based training with instructor-led training.”
In addition, QuickStart is continuing to work with LAC to provide the types of reports required, to develop the kinds of interfaces needed for individual students and to track the certification process.

Technical Service Manager Tom Griffith adds that QuickStart
“didn’t come with a canned product. We’ve created something that’s continually changing to customize for their unique training needs. This project was successful because of the leading technology that Microsoft provided and the quality of the Microsoft courseware that we used in the classes.”

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