Thursday, June 19, 2008

Requesting Australian SBSC Community Input

I posted a similar request to the ANZ-SBSC group about a month back and again this morning, and am posting it here in case there's people reading this who are not a member of that list. This blog is a little more "open" than that list, and therefore I probably should be a little more careful in what I say. But those of you who know me know that I'm more than happy to say this in public - and that I've said this and more in the past! :)

If anyone wants to contact me via email with their response instead of via the comments on this blog, feel free to do so. I'm more than happy to keep your comments anonymous (beyond me) if you wish for that.

Anyway, until I get a better understanding of what an SBSC PAL is actually all about, I see my role as follows (in no particular order):

  • help Microsoft promote WHS/SBS/EBS to the SMB marketplace

  • help to make the SBSC designation actually meaningful, not just another Microsoft Acronym that makes the person in Microsoft who thought of it feel all warm and gushy on the inside

  • help the community at large understand that an SBSC, once we make it actually meaningful, will likely have a better idea of how Microsoft technologies can help their business than someone who hasn’t gone to the effort of learning about these Microsoft products at all

  • Channel ANZ SBSC community feelings and issues back to Microsoft

  • Channel these feelings back in my usual pull no punches way so that people in at Microsoft actually get to understand what it is like for those of us who don’t see “Microsoft” on our paycheques
I know that Robbie has taken a risk putting me in this position, and that he at least has an “out” in 12 months’ time. :) I know that Robbie knows that I’ll go at this like an attack dog on an unsuspecting bunny. I don’t think that many people in at Microsoft know a) what an SBSC is and want to know if they can have cream with it when they get one, and b) what’s coming. :)

Wayne Small may place his money on Microsoft in this battle of the wills, but my money is firmly placed on me. Well, firmly placed on me at least not giving up – I honestly don’t think that I can make much change to the unwieldy, floundering behemoth that is Microsoft in 2008/09, but I know that I’ll not give up trying to see if I can help to make the ANZ SBSCs lives a little easier.

Below is a list of some of the things that I feel need to be brought to Microsoft’s attention during the next year. As part of my role is to represent the SBSCs to Microsoft, I obviously don’t want to wave my own flag all the time, but I’d like to be representative of the ANZ SBSC community and the flags we *all* want to have waved in front of Microsoft. So, I need your input – either reply here or to me personally, whichever you feel more comfortable with. I need to know the issues that you see needing to be raised with Microsoft around the SBSC/SMB issues that you face and that your clients face. What needs to be done better, what needs to be done away with, what needs to be thought about for the first time (real or apparent) that will help you and Microsoft be able to better help your clients? Along with the issue, any information on the possible outcomes that you’d like to see would also be beneficial.

As you all know (or will soon), I’m more than capable of jumping up and down and letting people know how *I* feel. Most of the time I do this on behalf of my clients. Right now, I want to do this on behalf of the large number of Australian SBSCs out there. Actually, my *role* is to do this on behalf of the Australian SBSC community.

Without input from the SBSC community I have only my issues that I can raise with those in at Microsoft who can actually do something about them - *whether* they do something about them is a whole other issue. I need to know what the community feeling is about the SBSC program itself as well as the products and services that Microsoft is releasing for this marketplace – XP, Vista, SBS, WEBS, Office, whatever – and how or even whether they fit into our clients’ needs. With this information I can approach people in at Microsoft with the real world experiences of the Australian SBSC community and see if we can’t help nudge Microsoft onto a course that better suits the needs of our clients.

Some of the things I see as issues needing to be raised are as follows (in no particular order right now, but based on community feedback I’ll prioritize this list):

Issue needing to be raisedPossible Outcome(s)
Microsoft’s utter lack of direction and its increasing inability to a) write decent products and b) release the features they have suggested will make it into any new products.Understand why Microsoft is losing the plot when it comes to being able to deliver relevance in today’s marketplace and what they are doing to change this.
The completely unintelligible Licensing model that Microsoft has. Probably 95% of Microsoft staff and partners don’t really understand it all, and I can bet a crucial body part that not a single customer of theirs understands any of it.Be able to help get MS Licensing to a point where it is understandable, enforceable and profitable to both Microsoft (obviously) and its partners.
Focus. Microsoft has none. Right now they seem to be trying to Borg the entire IT universe instead of concentrating on what they used to be good at – reliable desktop operating systems and great user applications, such as Office. Yahoo? Forget it – concentrate on software. Google? What’s next? They need to keep some focus on what’s important to their customers, not just try and justify their existence to their shareholders – their shareholders won’t like it if their customers stop buying their products because they are all sub-par. Simply for Microsoft to stop trying to spread themselves so wide that they are losing any depth they used to have.
Technical training. Many of Microsoft’s “training” sessions are too salesy and don’t have enough real technical meat in them. A lot of partners are getting to the point of wondering if Microsoft has any technical knowledge to share any more.Deliver more tech-focussed training in the ANZ region, not just during Tech Ed. The SBS pre-day at Tech Ed is a good start, but Microsoft needs to continue this through the local User Groups and other technical training sessions.
WHS. Right now it is an utter joke – it can’t reliably save data and it can’t be easily backed up by the users. And in the PP about to be released, they have dropped the WHS Backup feature they were originally saying they were going to provide.Sort your sh+ out before it hits the marketplace. Understand that the marketplace see your failings as utter lack of support for the smaller businesses out there. Understand that the marketplace is right!
Pricing equity, or the utter lack of it. We’re being right royally shafted on MS pricing here in Australia. $299 for MAPS in the USA, $699 here. Come on! This is not winning you any friends. And then there’s the overpricing of your consumer and business products – look at SBS 2003 R2 FPP/OVL pricing in the US (US$599/US$521 Std, US$1299/US$1128 Prem) compared to that in Australia(AU$1044/AU$927 Std, AU$2257/AU$2008 Prem)!Realise that as exchange rates change, you have to change with them. You cannot protect your own arse by reaming your clients’. When they revolt, you shouldn’t be left wondering why the opposition is getting all the business you thought you would have received.


Steven Reid said...

Hi Hilton,
Definately agree with all the issues you have raised. Especially the one about the software and services pricing disparity between the US and Australia.

Keep up the fight!

Anonymous said...

Re: Home server, currently the data bug is in beta. Are you urging folks to test as this will speed up the resolution for that issue?

The beta process ensures that we get solid software.


Hilton Travis said...

Hi Susan,

Of course I'm encouraging people to beta test this bug fix. I'm a big believer in beta testing and have done it for a number of companies since the mid '80's - and if there's one company who needs some serious help with it, it is Microsoft!

I generally beta test apps, OSes and hardware on our production network here at the office as I truly believe that the only way to see how a product will perform in a production network is to run it in a production network and see how it performs - you cannot properly beta test in a non-production environment.