Wednesday, March 11, 2009

SBSC PAL March 2009

Well, the Nick King events have been and gone and unfortunately were not well attended. I think the attendance at these events has a close correlation to the general SMB IT Pro community’s feelings about Microsoft’s ability to be able to deliver appropriate technical training to its Channel Partners. We’ve given Microsoft the benefit of the doubt too many times without any improvement in their performance and we’re now non-believers. Nick is a nice guy and honestly interested in helping us out here. I hope he sees the lacklustre attendance as the cry for help that it truly is!

This is not a good situation to be in for Microsoft nor its Channel. I certainly don’t like having a major partner who seems not to know how to train us adequately on their products and seems to not have a lot of depth of knowledge about those products (as evidenced by people stating that PSS are asking them to disable IPv6 in SBS 2008 as a troubleshooting measure). That’s quite a concern for us all and should also be quite embarrassing for Microsoft.

Nick did explain to me that the process that was followed and the team that developed the recent EBS Hot Lab that was such a total failure had been restructured to ensure that such a problem never happened again. So that’s something very positive, however it is only one small step in the long walk Microsoft needs to make to get their Channel Partners back on side with training.

And right now, as business slows somewhat for a number of SBSCs, this is the perfect time to get some training in to perk up our technical abilities and be able to deliver better service to our existing and future clients both now and when life again returns to normal. The problem is that we cannot trust Microsoft to deliver this technical training. So, what do we do?

There’s a great deal of technical information “out there” for SBS 2008. It isn’t collected in any one place. I know Nick and The Wayne were asked about this training material at the Brisbane event and The Wayne said he’d be making a blog post outlining the training material, books, courses and so on that were appropriate for learning more about SBS 2008. That’s definitely going to be something worth looking forward to.

One thing that was totally missed at the recent Licensing Roadshows was the Licensewise site that Microsoft has. This is apparently a rather nice site that gives you all of your Microsoft Licensing product options when you choose the products you’re after. It is a pity, however, that it has so many issues in IE8 (at least under Windows 7). :(

Apparently, after listening to the Microsoft Financing talk at the recent SBSC PAL conference call, we’re no longer going to be financially liable if a client that Microsoft Financing has approved goes under. This is an excellent change, bringing them into line with all other financing companies, and means that we’ve now got a great financing option in Microsoft Financing. In these tougher economic times, this is an option that will help you grow your business and look more like a business advisor to your clients than just the guys who sell them their computers. What’s even better is that you can bundle hardware, software, licensing installation labour and MSP/maintenance agreements into the monthly price – something rather nice, considering you get paid up front for an approved client!

The April shipment of the SBSC Toolkit will include System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 Workgroup Edition, which is licensed for 5 users. The version (workgroup or Enterprise) is still to be determined, but getting at least Workgroup will mean managing our physical host servers will be a lot easier, and we get to see how this will be an advantage on some of our larger client sites.

Also, remember that the new Microsoft Partner Program requirements will be changing, meaning that we have until October 2010 to sit the new exams to retain our SBSC status (and more importantly, knowledge). These new exams are SBS 2008 (70-653), EBS 2008 (70-654), the original OEM (74-134) and Windows Sharepoint Services (70-631) as well as the new Exchange Server 2007 (70-236), the new OEM (70-655) and additionally the Web Solutions Competency (70-562) and MBS (SQL) Competency (70-432). Passing any one of these active exams is required and with some experience under your belt, you should be able to complete one of these exams before the end of this FY, giving us ample time to complete by the cut off date of October, 2010.


The Outspoken Wookie

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