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WPC: Cloud solution provider firms amped on Microsoft strategy

Microsoft cloud solution provider firms and other channel allies voiced support for the company's technology and partner initiatives at WPC.

ORLANDO, Fla. -- While attendees at Monday's Microsoft Vision Keynote were blown away by a holographic motorcycle design demo using Autodesk Maya software and Microsoft’s HoloLens, it was Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's message about the company's investment and technology innovation strategy that wowed partners.

FMT Consultants, Carlsbad, Calif., is a Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) partner that expects to benefit from the availability of additional cloud services in the CSP program. Azure and CRM Online will be offered along with existing offers Office 365, Windows Intune and Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS), according to Veronica Place, account executive with the integrated business management solutions and information technology services partner.

FMT, an authorized Microsoft Dynamics partner, sells Dynamics CRM on-premises and online, SharePoint, and Office 365 licenses. Place was particularly interested in the vendor’s "bold ambitions" to reinvent productivity and business processes, or increase integration across products empowering how people work in teams.

In sync with strategy

Adam Hartfield a software asset manager (SAM) at En Pointe Technologies, a PCM Company, with headquarters in Gardena, Calif., said his company is in sync with Microsoft’s cloud-first, mobile-first strategy. "It plays into what we're trying to accomplish. We're trying to give customers an experience where it's no longer about hardware or software. We're encompassing all services and trying to reach into all levels of an organization," he said.

Hartfield dives in to show customers how they can save on IT costs and empower their organizations with better business intelligence.

He was particularly interested in Nadella’s announcement of Project GigJam for a more connected, more available and more social workforce in the collaboration and productivity space. "I was astounded by the demo. Looking at it from my perspective, I work with a number of people on projects or on the managed services side; this will cut things down and make it so much easier to work with others," Hartfield said.

GigJam offers a spontaneous way to get the bits and pieces of a project divided and worked on, as well as a way to track the work parts and complete project.

"It doesn't matter where you are or on what device. You can collaborate anytime, which is fantastic," Hartfield said.

Microsoft described GigJam as transforming business processes by breaking down the barriers between devices, apps and people.

Jack Dillman, a national Microsoft business development manager with PC Connection, a national solutions provider, was happy to hear that the Windows 10 design is more user friendly, harking back to Windows 7. "That's important to customers from what we hear," he said. "Microsoft's hologram technology was unbelievable and is unmatched by anyone else in the industry," he added.

ZAG Technical Services is a West Coast system integrator in the small and medium-sized business and enterprise space. Greg Gatzke, president of ZAG Technical Services, said he is looking at which model of Microsoft's tiered Cloud Solution Provider program makes sense for the company. 

The 1-Tier model allows partners to sell Microsoft cloud services directly to their customers. The 2-Tier model is for partners who sell Microsoft cloud services through distribution partners, according to the vendor. The 2-Tier program helps partners manage customer support such as provisioning, billing, management and support. CSP distributors in the U.S. include Ingram Micro, Tech Data, Synnex, Intermedia and AppRiver.  In Canada, Cloud Solution Provider distributors include Ingram Micro, Tech Data, Synnex, Ceryx and SherWeb.

Gatzke noted that the 1-Tier program would provide more revenue, but involves more requirements than the 2-Tier program.

"There are more requirements on being a 1-Tier and my goal is to learn what they are," he said.

Other technology rollouts

During Day One at WPC 2015, Microsoft executives debuted the Cortana Analytics Suite, which the company described as a fully managed and comprehensive set of services to transform data into intelligent action. Microsoft also announced the availability of Office 365 E5 later this year.

According to Microsoft, some new capabilities in the next version of Office 365 include Skype for Business services for real-time communication, such as Cloud PBX and PSTN Conferencing; analytics features, such as Power BI Pro and Delve Organizational Analytics; and advanced security features, such as eDiscovery, Customer Lockbox, Data Loss Protection and Safe Attachments.

Next Steps

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