As many of you know the big tech news this week in DC was the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference. Microsoft is a Strategic client, so obviously we were there amidst the thousands at the Washington Convention Center.
Strategic also launched a new blog, Microsoft Partner News, in conjunction with the conference.We did this to support our client, but also to demonstrate how nimble and tactical social media can be for clients. The site contains original content, the official conference tweet stream and the Microsoft partner stream, and multiple RSS feeds with all the announcements made during the show. If you couldn’t attend — or were too busy networking — check out the site and you won’t miss a thing.
To get an even deeper Microsoft partner perspective, I called an old friend. Rich Dorfman is Partner and Vice President, Client and Professional Services for Convergent Computing. Convergent is a boutique technology consulting and systems integrator company based in Oakland, helping businesses architect and implement their networks. The company deals primarily with Microsoft infrastructure, so Rich was an excellent guy to talk to for his take on the event.
I really appreciated him jumping off the show floor to answer a few questions yesterday:
Q: Rich, how do you describe Convergent and what the company does?
Think of us as a much smaller Deloitte, specialized by geography and technology. We help clients purchase and implement the right technology for their business needs, not technology for its own sake. We have an extremely deep bench of consultants who are among the most expert in the world working with Microsoft infrastructure.
Q: What’s your overall take on the show this year?
It was a very different show this year. In the past the focus was very product driven, what was coming out, very feature specific. This conference was far more conceptual in nature, and very focused on the cloud. That’s definitely where Microsoft is going as a company.
Q: The cloud? I’ve read that trend is bad for Microsoft in general due to its dominance of the desktop.
There are definitely big implications for the business model, no question. There is certainly some risk, but the biggest issue for Microsoft is giving the customer choice. Whatever the device, give customers the applications they know and depend upon, and deliver a rich, satisfying experience. Whether the end device is the web, a phone, an iPad client or the desktop. As an example, I got a glimpse of a Windows 7 Phone, and it will be like nothing mobile you’ve seen from Microsoft. I think it could be out by the winter.
Q: Give me a little more specifics on the move to the cloud, if you can.
The vision is all about giving companies options for the move — full, partial or none. You can of course continue to host your own software, applications and data. But if you want your applications from the cloud, the entire Office suite will be available that way in the next release. If you want to move a little, a lot or all your development or infrastructure to the cloud, there is the Microsoft Azure platform. And Azure will be coming out as an appliance soon, if enterprises want to purchase and manage it themselves.
Q: This is interesting stuff — I think many have the view that Microsoft is playing catch up in some of these areas.
Microsoft is confident the entire portfolio of products remains very strong, and can win. I think in specific areas, that perception may have been true in the past. For example, two years ago I’d say VMware may have been significantly better than Microsoft at virtualization, but the gap has been closed. In SaaS application, Google may be a better fit for customers, for example GMail. But for business Microsoft Outlook and Exchange offer greater utility, and no product enables collaboration like SharePoint.
Then, he had to hop. Were you at the show? If so, drop a comment with your take.
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