Microsoft Still Attracts Managed Services Crowd

Windows no longer sits at the center of the IT universe. But Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC09) still knows how to attract a big crowd -- including most of the major managed service software providers and MSPs themselves. Here are five MSP-centric topics MSPmentor will track at the event.

Admittedly, this year's Microsoft partner conference (July 13-16, New Orleans) will be smaller than WPC08 -- which attracted more than 7,500 Microsoft partners. Still, I can't think of a larger, vendor-driven partner event. I suspect WPC09 will be three to four times larger than Cisco Partner Summit 2009, which attracted about 1,500 partners in June.

As our sister site, TheVARguy.com, has mentioned before: We're heading to WPC09 with our eyes focused on five key questions:

1. Windows Small Business Server 2008: How’s it selling? And how will it begin to integrate with various SaaS storage and security services?

IBM alleged that there’s tepid demand for Microsoft’s Small Business Server right now. Microsoft has since responded to IBM’s assertions. And thousands of SBS partners will be on hand at the Worldwide Partner Conference.

2. Business Productivity Online Suite: If you’re keeping tabs on Microsoft, you know BPOS includes Exchange Online, Office Live Meeting, Office SharePoint Online and Office Communications Online.

No doubt, VARs and managed service providers are cashing in on SharePoint and hosted Exchange. But what’s the early feedback from partners on BPOS, and does Microsoft plan to make any adjustments to the BPOS reseller model?

3. Windows Azure: Microsoft says the cloud services operating system is a development, service hosting and service management environment. But exactly how can partners profit from Windows Azure?

4. Software Plus Services: It’s time for The VAR Guy to see the forest (Microsoft’s big-picture SaaS strategy) from the trees (Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, etc.). We'll get a better big-picture understanding of Microsoft’s SaaS strategy and what it ultimately means to partners in terms of branding, positioning and recurring revenue.

5. Windows 7 and Office 2010: Frankly, I didn't plan to spend much time covering Windows 2007 and Office 2010. But Microsoft offered up some key briefings and now I'm intrigued. Plus, Google's surprise announcement of Chrome OS this week has me curious about Windows 7 vs. Chrome OS positioning.

What else does MSPmentor need to cover for you? I'm all ears.

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