At WPC 2011, content sparse for Microsoft security partners

Microsoft is pushing cloud services during its Worldwide Partner Conference 2011, leaving IT security to its OEMs and expo exhibitors.

LOS ANGELES -- Nearly 15,000 people representing 640,000 partner organizations have gathered this week for the 2011 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference. However, for Microsoft security partners hoping to hear information about the software giant’s latest security technologies and products, WPC 2011 has little to offer.

The theme of this year’s event is “Winning Together,” which Microsoft executives defined as generating growth and profit for both the vendor and its channel partners. Microsoft’s key area of emphasis this week is cloud computing, which is being heavily emphasized not only in the conference agenda, but also in Microsoft executives’ talking points. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer made no secret of that, telling the audience in his Monday keynote, “Cloud will be baked into every session [of the conference].” 

Few mentions of IT security were planned by Microsoft presenters in the nearly 100 sessions on day one of the conference. Thomas Hansen, vice president of SMB Worldwide at Microsoft, presented a session entitled, “The Reseller Opportunity,” in which he listed 11 sales focus areas channel partners should emphasize to be successful this year. The list included hosted platforms, business intelligence, messaging, collaboration and mobility; security, however, was not among them.

A Microsoft spokesperson was unavailable for comment.

It was a different story on the expo floor, where security was a more prominent theme. Exhibitors at WPC 2011 included security vendors Symantec Corp. and Kaspersky Lab, both of which were gold sponsors of the conference expo, where they were promoting products that integrate security features into Microsoft shops.

When asked about the relationship between Microsoft and Symantec in the security realm, Blake McConnell, senior director of product management for Symantec’s Endpoint and Mobility Group remarked, “Partners have a responsibility to their customers to sell effective endpoint security solutions.” 

Commenting on the relationship between Microsoft and Kaspersky, Stephane Le Hir, general manager of the Technology Alliances Division at Kaspersky, stated that Kaspersky’s antivirus engine is embedded in Microsoft’s Forefront family of products and services.  

While there were plenty of third-party vendors displaying their product offerings to augment or compliment Microsoft’s cloud platform, a handful of exhibitors held firm to their offerings of more traditional on-premise software and hardware appliances. IVO Networks, for example, was on hand to promote its Threat Management Gateway and Data Access Concentrator, which are based on Microsoft’s Forefront Threat Management Gateway (TMG) and Windows Server operating systems.

Attendees at WPC 2011 included Microsoft VARs, LARs, Hosted Service Providers, Distributors, ISVs, Learning Partners and Retailers. 

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