Wednesday, May 27, 2009

New Australian SBSC PAL FY 09-10

I've almost completed my appointment as the SBSC Partner Area Lead for the FY 08-09 year and am glad to say that Keira McIntosh of Directions IT (no, that's not her pic on the front page) in Brisbane has been overwhelmingly chosen by the Australian SBSCs as the new SBSC PAL for Australia for the FY09-10 year.

I'm glad Keira got the nod - not only because I recommended to Sarah Theiss that she be considered, but because I believe she will do a great job.

All the best Keira - you're going to need it! ;)


The Outspoken Wookie


Andrew Frost said...

I hope she is as outspoken as you. What we need is people prepared to take a stand and not kowtow to the corporate line. Thank you for your commitment to saying what needed to be said. All the best Keira.

Keira McIntosh said...

Thanks for the vote of confidence Hilton.

I'm really looking forward to engaging with the SBSC Partner community and helping us all to grow our businesses through challenging times.

Hilton Travis said...

G'day Keira,

That's the weird thing, as the SBSC PAL for FY 08-09, Microsoft offered very little opportunity for me to engage with the SBSC partner community - there was the Tech Ed pre-day (the Level 300 training fiasco) and APC (which disallowed Registered Members from attending for the first time in 2008), and a monthly article in the SBSC Newsletter (once I explained to Microsoft that really, the SBSC PAL had no way of contacting the SBSCs), but that's it.

Sure I blog regularly and have taken a number of phone calls and held a number of email conversations with various SBSC members throughout this past year, but the promise of Microsoft having me visit the various User Groups never eventuated.

There really needs to be a lot more effort on Microsoft's part if they want the SBSC program to mean anything, if they want the SBSC PAL to be able to do what they are meant to, and - in particular - if they want the Australian SBSCs to know that the SMB (Breadth, whatever) part of Microsoft Australia still exists. Right now, there's almost total and deathly silence coming from in at Microsoft Australia regarding the SBSC/SMB/Breadth market space.

Keira McIntosh said...

All things I've wondered about too.

If you and I are unsure about what's happening in SMB/Breadth and Microsoft, where does that leave other partners?

Steeling myself for the challenge ahead....

Hilton Travis said...


That's a question that I've been asked - does Microsoft Australia still have anyone involved in the Breadth (aka SMB in the real world) team in Australia. A number of SBSCs have asked me this since about November - there's been pretty close to total silence from Microsoft since Tech Ed 2008.

Microsoft need to know what they are (or in this case, aren't) doing well. Some people tend to wear the same rose colored glasses themselves as Microsoft does and therefore can't give honest and open feedback to Microsoft. That won't help Microsoft.

Robbie selected me as the PAL mainly because he knew that I'd say what I felt and wouldn't pull any punches. Then, I think, maybe he didn't realise that I'd actually say what I felt and wouldn't pull any punches. I did ask him if he were crazy when he initially asked me to be the SBSC PAL and warned him that I tend not to pull punches in areas I'm passionate about. :)

And why am I passionate about SMB? Well, because I work in and service SMBs and can see the issues many SMBs face that aren't getting effectively dealt with (by software, hardware and other technology, as well as from the tech partners ourselves). Microsoft provides a small part of their total product range to SMBs, so I can understand why there's unlikely to be any *real* interest in SMBs from Microsoft, however the SMB marketplace contains a great number of businesses and is the largest sector in Australia (outside Public Sector) as far as total employees go - Microsoft giving us the cold shoulder doesn't make us feel better about them, and one thing that was said at APC 2008 was that Microsoft's end user satisfaction wasn't too bad, but their partner satisfaction figures needed some work. Well, I don't think that ignoring an entire segment such as SMB will help their partner satisfaction figures!

Linux and such start looking better when there's no support or other noise from Microsoft. Especially after they killed off a large part of the SBS target market - the sub-15 user networks. They priced and hardware-specced it out of financial viability for many of these smaller SMBs where SBS 2003 was an absolutely ideal product.

There are some nice non-Microsoft products out there now - not only - that can be used with great success in many SMBs. Running a Samba server as the main auth/directory/file server and a Foundation Server for your SQL LOB app will significantly reduce costs, especially when many of the LOBs will run perfectly on SQL Express. There's little functionality lost in a deployment like this too. Microsoft has really opened the door to Linux and other competing solutions with their pricing and insane hardware requirements.

I just hope that the SMB marketspace benefits from Microsoft Australia's walking away from our market by embracing some of these alternate solutions and seeing what they can bring to their businesses.