Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Google Introduces Google Apps for Government

At a press event at its headquarters this morning, Google announced Google Apps for Government-a new version of its Google Apps productivity suite that's been certified by the US government as meeting its security requirements.

The new version is a variant of Google Apps Premier edition, and includes the same core apps: Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Sites, Groups, Video, and Postini. Pricing is the same as for Google Apps Premier: $50 per user per year.

The certification says that Google Apps qualifies for is called a FISMA-Moderate rating, which means that it's authorized for use with data that's sensitive but unclassified. In addition, Google says that it's storing government Gmail and Google Calendar on servers that are isolated from those used for non-government customers, and which are located in the continental US.

Read Full Article Here:

Friday, July 23, 2010

My Cloud Presentation for Microsoft

I recently did a presentation for the Microsoft OEM Partner Action Committee discussing ways to help the OEM System Builder Channel go after new opportunities found with Microsoft Online Services.  Here it is:

Cloud Computing

Steve Ballmer recently said that Microsoft is “All In” when it comes to Cloud Computing. But will the channel call his bet or will they drop out of the game?

My name is Todd Swank and I’m the Vice Marketing of Nor-Tech out of Minnesota. We’re an OEM System Builder who has traditionally earned our revenues from creating hardware solutions and pre-loading them with Microsoft Operating Systems and Microsoft Applications like Office. As customer demands have shifted over the past few years to mobile solutions, we have found ourselves forced to becoming resellers for Multi-National Manufacturers like Lenovo, HP, and Toshiba. Current customer demands seem to be shifting to even more and more mobile devices. Customers are demanding that their data and applications be available to them anytime, anywhere, and from any device. They’re demanding Cloud Computing. So the question becomes, how does a company that has traditionally made its money by reselling hardware solutions make the transition into a company reselling cloud services?

Lucky for us as a Microsoft Partner, we already have a lot of great products to choose from:

i. Azure --- Development and deployment platform for cloud applications

ii. Intune --- a new solution that simplifies management and security of PCs

iii. Live Services --- free programs from Microsoft for photos, instant messaging, e mail, blogging, family safety, and more.

iv. Dynamics --- cloud customer relationship management

v. Office 2010 --- Launches in a couple weeks and will most likely be the channel’s first large scale push into selling Microsoft Online Services

vi. BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite)

a. What's in it. (Sharepoint, Exchange, Office Live Communications, and Live Meeting)

b. This is where the majority of our focus has been so far because it appears to have the most developed Partner program.

c. Review what we've done

a. Multiple webinars.

b. Conference calls with Microsoft Online Services Reps.

c. signed up to be authorized resellers for BPOS and passed the assessment test, so I’m officially in the program.

d. Impressions:

1. How cool it is that it’s constantly being improved. Microsoft is continually adding enhanced features and functionality to improve customer experience. Seamless. Customers don’t have to do anything to enjoy these improvements.

2. Discuss partner program. ***Extremely impressed with the amount of training and resources Microsoft is already providing to partners for this relatively new program (marketing incentives, details business plans, multiple trainings, etc.)

Thanks to Microsoft for doing so much already to give the channel opportunities to start selling Cloud Services.

There’s plenty of reasons to get involved in selling Microsoft Online Services now:

• Microsoft has arguably the best channel program in the business. Microsoft Online Services are already off to a great start providing partners with a roadmap showing them how to take advantage of the program.

• Microsoft is generously offering partner commissions on Online Services sales into perpetuity as long as the Partner remains as the client’s POR (Partner of Record).

• Microsoft has great training programs and marketing incentives for Online Service partners. EG Giving Partners 250 seats of BPOS for testing and demonstration purposes.

There are already thousands of resellers signed up to sell Microsoft Online Services!

It’s a great program and a natural fit for resellers who already have solid practices selling enterprise agreements and have existing service businesses in products like Sharepoint and Exchange.

However, Microsoft’s system builder partners have traditionally earned their revenues selling their custom hardware solutions and will need a lot of guidance to create new revenue streams by offering Microsoft Online Services.

When I try to tell our salespeople ‘’that they need to start looking into selling Microsoft Online Services, I run into a lot of resistance:

1. Cloud Computing is going to put me out of business

2. You want me to sell what?

3. Show me the money!

There are challenges transitioning existing business models to the new models.

A Direct Revenues are going to be a challenge. $1.80 per user per month for the first year and $.60 per user per month is not going to provide a great Return on investment until partners sign up thousands of users.

B There doesn’t appear to be opportunities in Microsoft Online Services for Microsoft Partners who have built their business around selling to other Microsoft Partners and VARS.

C. Customer relationships seemingly will shift from the Partner directly to Microsoft in the long run since the customer will have the perception they’re buying direct from Microsoft and much of their service and support will be handed directly by Microsoft. This will create tension between Microsoft and its Partners.

Where’s there’s challenges, there’s always opportunities

A System builders can leverage their existing relationships with end customers and become their trusted advisor for Online Services.

B New revenue streams from services including data migration from the data center to the cloud, Sharepoint Consulting, and Exchange Consulting.

C 70% of Microsoft Online Services sales expected to be to new customers. Huge growth opportunity with SMB.

D Recurring Revenue Streams into perpetuity

Here’s some of the ideas we have to help the channel recognize the opportunities and be inspired to take advantage of them.

I think the most important thing we need to do is to explore opportunities to give system builders the incentive and ability to offer Microsoft Online Services at the time of the hardware sale.

Explore system builder exclusive promotions for BPOS

1. Desktop Icon on system builder PC that links end customer to free trial BPOS offer that pre-loads Partner of Record information for the system builder

2. Extended BPOS free trial offer for end customers buying PC’s from system builders

3. Customizable marketing flyer explaining BPOS free trial offer similar to what was done for Office 2007 and explanation how to name system builder as partner of record.

So Steve Ballmer says Microsoft is All In on Cloud Computing?

Well, the cards have been dealt, the pot is full of big money, and the players are watching each other and getting ready to make their move.

I’m excited for us to lay our cards on the table and see how we’re going to do.

Thank You!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Hey Microsoft, Get Out of the Cloud

The personal computer revolution began as an attempt to move away from centralized control, allowing people to have a system that was powerful, yet individualized. Big companies who hogged computing were seen as evil. Soon everything became self-contained and desktop-centric. There was desktop publishing, desktop marketing, desktop mapping. Now everything is supposed to move to that mainframe in the sky—the cloud.

But the cloud stinks. Its applications have always been much slower than their desktop counterparts. Try to get to the end cell of a large cloud-based shreadsheet. You'll long for the desktop version. The whole process is exacerbated by the speed of the Internet. The Internet is also unreliable. A couple of weeks ago, I was down for two hours. A month ago, I lost my connection for 20-plus hours.

And where is Microsoft in all of this? The company seems to keep forgetting what business it's in. While Windows 7 and Office continue to be huge cash cows with no end in sight, the company is encouraging the idea of cloud computing by claiming that that is the direction it's headed in, as well. Huh?

Read Full Article here:

OpSource announces OpSource Partner Ecosystem for managed hosting and cloud solutions

Enterprise cloud and managed hosting provider OpSource, Inc.has announced the OpSource Partner Ecosystem, a comprehensive new program designed to enable integrators, developers, ISVs, development platform companies and service providers to offer integrated solutions for their joint customers.  

Opsource's traditional business has been selling to enterprise customers, initially traditional software-as-a-service and ultimately to enterprise-class cloud applications in a highly virtualized environment.

"Much of our business was big direct contracts, but with the growth of the cloud business we found that about 35 percent of our customers who signed up weren't using it themselves, but were using it to implement solutions for other companies," said Treb Ryan, CEO of OpSource. "They were SIs, VARs, telecoms, cloud platform companies, who were using it to deploy and sell other solutions."

Read Full Article Here:

Rackspace, NASA Open Up Cloud Computing With OpenStack Project

Rackspace on Monday launched an open source cloud computing project the company hopes will make proprietary cloud computing a thing of the past.

The San Antonio-based hosting and cloud king teamed up with NASA to launch a bold open-source cloud computing initiative dubbed OpenStack. Through OpenStack, an open source cloud operating system, Rackspace hopes to inch closer to cloud technology standards and cloud interoperability, said Mark Collier, Rackspace vice president of business and corporate development. With OpenStack, Rackspace hopes to facilitate "broad adoption of a standard cloud platform."

With OpenStack, Rackspace is donating the cloud computing code that powers its Cloud Files and Cloud Servers public cloud offerings. The project will also tie in the technology that powers NASA's Nebula Cloud Platform. The pair will collaborate on developing and leveraging the efforts of open-source software developers.

Read Full Article Here:

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Google Apps Gets Education Certification Partner Program

Google has launched a program to certify resellers on Google Apps Education Edition. In return, Google is offering their partners better marketing support, more training opportunities, and business visibility in the Google Apps marketplace, the search giant says. It’s all part of Google’s continued push into the education space. Here’s the skinny.

Part of the announcement involves new customer deployments. Two examples: The states of Colorado and Iowa are now offering Google Apps to their public schools, a key set of wins in the education space after Microsoft BPOS claimed the University of Arizona. And for schools wanting a self-service approach to learning the ropes, Google is promoting the Google Apps Education Training Center, which they say is designed to walk the novice through their offering.

But for Google Apps resellers, the main event, so to speak, is the Google Apps for Education Certified Partner program. To qualify as a certified partner, you need to employ at least three people who have achieved “Qualified Trainer” status by passing the online examinations and demonstrating a history of providing training and support to large clients.

Read Full Article Here:

Microsoft shares (officially) its future BPOS plans

At this week’s Worldwide Partner Conference, Microsoft officials shared with attendees their “official” roadmap for updating the company’s hosted Business Productivity Online (BPOS) suite. Company officials shared which features and capabilities that the company rolled out already as part of the on-premises server complements of the BPOS products will be added to the Microsoft-hosted versions of those offerings.

I’ve run a few slides on this blog over the past couple of months, dating back to November 2009, that included much of this same information. But it wasn’t until this week that Microsoft officials acknowledged these details.

I’ve heard that customers of the Dedicated (i.e., non-shared/non-multitenant) versions of Microsoft’s BPOS and its point-product parts — Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Communications Online and Live Meeting — already have some of the 2010 feature updates. But those using the “Standard” (multitenant) versions do not.

Read Full Article Here:

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Microsoft’s Vision For Partners In The Cloud

Fred Studer, general manager of Microsoft's Information Worker group, says partners that go all-in with Microsoft in the cloud won't regret the decision.