What is the partner problem with Me S+S?

Microsoft
4 Comments

I’ve spent the better part of last few days talking with partners, working with a few of my Microsoft friends and trying to make sure they don’t get fired for knowing me, trying to get to the bottom of why the Me S+S is perceived as something that is not good for us.

Go ahead and throw the axes and feces this way, yes, I told Microsoft where they messed up and how to correct it. The bottom line is that we all compete at a certain level but we also win tremendously when we all play along and do what is in the best interest of the customer. We have to find a way to work together on SMB solutions – that in fact is the reason I am unhappy.

Question: Why is Vlad upset about this, he’s being handed gold hand over fist with Microsoft pegging their compensation at 6% while his partners get 10x the storage, can mark up the solution 50-200% without blinking (yes, most our 10GB Exchange hosting is sold at $15-$30/mbox) and they get their branding and control of the client too. Why is he raising a stink over this?

My primary concern is my business. Always. My second concern are my partners, people who make my business possible by offering our solutions and helping us build solutions that their customer base is demanding. With what I think is close to 20,000 partners at OWN it is my responsibility to bring up their concerns. They don’t like S+S.

I am upset over S+S because it makes me look bad for confirming partner suspicions that Microsoft is not to be trusted. So for years as the MVP, as the vocal supporter of the SBSC, as the advocate of using Microsoft software I am now seen as someone that sipped the koolade and sold out the SMB partner base to Microsoft.

I am upset over the way S+S was pitched because it used the word competition about 5,000 times during the keynotes. I have spent years to communicate to this channel that cloud is a complementing technology that can make sense for some customers and that there is a decent business to be built on top of it. Microsoft just came out and effectively said “This is the future, suck it. You can be a part of it or go wash cars”

Finally, I am upset over S+S because I know what my partners are going to do about Microsoft suddenly playing in their back yard. They will throw the anchor out, build walls around their business and their customers, consider Microsoft competition and the feedback train stops there. This is bad for all of us – partners, slimy vendor whores (me) and Microsoft. Instead of working together we are now protecting our own turf. How exactly are we going to win? Make no mistake, partners see Microsoft as their competitor now. By association, so am I.

Question: What should Allison Watson say/adjust in time for Australian WPC and TechEd?

Dear Microsoft, ever noticed how none of the partners seem to have a problem with Google? Ever notice how none of us pay attention to them and use them for search, advertising, shopping, even gmail.com? Ever wonder why that is?

It’s because we as Microsoft partners do not compete with them.

We as Microsoft partners have a larger software portfolio, far more functional and integrated software, pricing and licensing options, ability to design custom solutions that really fit the clients needs. That in fact is how we become the trusted advisors that Microsoft urges us to become.

Now when you jump on stage and use the word compete over and over, declare that you will win, I know you are talking about your competition with Google, SalesForce, Apple, and so on. But guess what, we do not compete with those companies as Microsoft partners! We use Google search appliances. We sell and manage Apple computers – for gods sake even you write Microsoft Office and cloud solutions for that platform!

You need to be aware that when you talk about competition to your partners whose entire business is built on the on-premise solution, your competition is with your partners. You are perceived to be devaluing your solutions and while offering them to the same market that we serve you are competing with us.

Many partners I have spoken to feel that Microsoft has taken the software solutions that partner currently have their businesses and their clients businesses built on, and packaged them into $10/month S+S pitch.

So let’s review customer options – $10/month/mbox or $5,000 for the server, $300/month for the ongoing MSP fees, antivirus and thousands more for the migration work… How is a partner going to win in a price conscious market?

It’s not a problem when Google comes up with Apps because that is a consumer play and those customers will eventually come to partners when they need the power of Microsoft applications. It’s not a problem when Apple comes up with Me because that is a consumer play all the way that will never result in a Microsoft partnership.

It’s a huge problem when Microsoft comes out with S+S because it offers the same tools, our services, our value proposition, our go to market strategies and undercuts them by a factor of 100 or more.

How can a Microsoft partner win when you are perceived to be against their best interests?

How can you expect to have any partners if your partner conference is a giant announcement that you intend to compete with the people sitting in the room?

Question: Well, it’s the future so how do we soften the blow?

Be more cognizant of who your partners are.

Who in their right mind thought that a Walmart story was a good cherry on top of the keynote that announced head-to-head service offering that will compete with the mom and pop partner businesses in the audience?

Most Microsoft partners I know, as a matter of fact almost all of them, are small businesses. Small businesses that until this point saw Microsoft as a big manufacturer and promoter of their industry. Last week Microsoft just put up a huge Walmart sign in every neighborhood around the world that says “Lower Microsoft Prices. Always” in the minds of Microsoft partners and promised that Microsoft will win!

To take analogy a little further, the businesses that used to partner with MicroMart are now it’s competitors. The MicroMart partners that will win in this business are the ones that will work as MicroMart’s vendors in building it’s warehouses, producing it’s marketing and opening up little nail salons and Dollar Tree stores right next to it. All the mom and pop partners that currently exist will either turn into Jiffy Lube oil change car chop shops or try to serve a luxury clientele.

I’m sorry Microsoft, but how exactly did you figure that was a good idea?

4 Responses to What is the partner problem with Me S+S?

  1. vlad says:

    I keep on failing to articulate just what my problem is, thanks to the emails I continue to receive that sound like “Dude, you’re going to sell a ton of Exchange because nobody will partner with them at this point” and I keep on failing to tell you that the immediate sales are not the point I am trying to make.


    The point is that the bigger distrust between Microsoft and Microsoft Partners over the competitive nature will make it more difficult for the other software vendors to partner with the SMB solution providers.

    Thats what this whole stink is all about. Microsoft is damaging its reputation and stance in the partner community, of which I am both a member and a provider, and that impacts me and everyone I deal with. So yeah, we’ll do a ton of business right now but the long term outlook where Microsoft partners turn into cheap CIOs looking to defend their jobs and size of their staff……. how is that good for anyone?

    -Vlad

  2. StaceyC says:

    This will hurt the bottom of the partner chain the most…but is that a bad thing? Most clients with more than 10 ppl will still need a file server, and still need PC’s that will have to be serviced, so why not just add SBS with Exchange built in and save the monthly fees of a hosted solution. This is the further fragmentation of the market that MS has been doing for years now….it’s no longer SMB, it’s more like Micro, Small, Medium, Large and Enterprise. Let MS have the Micro and the EDS’s/HP’s of the world have the Enterprise and the rest of us can fight over the Small, Medium…and occasionally the large.

    It’s all about relationships and specialties. My clients do not want to deal with MS, they pay me to do that.

  3. vlad says:

    Stacey,

    With Microsoft 2.0 they don’t have a choice, they can either sign up directly with Microsoft and hand over the financial info or no deal.

    Or OWN obviously (Thank you $$$) but the point is that you no longer have control over that relationship and your role in it is diminished.

    At least thats the complaint I’ve been getting from a lot of people.

    -Vlad

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