Microsoft Ireland Partner Community Expert Event

I’m attending this day long event and will try to blog as I go along.

Morning Introduction

Conor Whickam, Partner Manager at Microsoft Ireland, opens the day to introduce the agenda.  This is meant to be an interactive session.  I was a bold boy at one of these this time last year so I’m shutting up.  I can hear sighs of relief.

Paul Rellis

Paul Rellis, the GM of Microsoft Ireland takes over with a keynote.  The theme is Microsoft = Productivity.  I guess this is a Business Intelligence year.  He starts talking about a famous human cannon ball called Armando?  The ringmaster was asked why he wasn’t replaced after he died.  It’s because he could find a person of the right calibre.  *Boom Boom*  MS invests in their people and “in their partners”.  MS wants partners to invest in their own staff as MS develops their staff.

The message about Azure/BPOS comes out.  Your two options are to install on premise or to install on Azure.  It’s a partner event but the hosting partners have already been had their ankles slashed.  MS needs to rethink that message.  Plenty of hosters are already pushing Linux more than Windows.  MS jacks up SPLA licensing costs (going up this year, at the end of each annual contract) while competing with their partners with aggressive sales.  CentOS and LAMP will continue to dominate the online market.

State of the Irish Market

Richard Moore now takes over to talk about the state of the Irish Market.  The opportunities include upgrade projects and end of life projects.

On the PC side:

  • 2010 will continue to see a decline until the second half of the year.  The low will be at 2005 levels.
  • Retail is continuing to take market share, growing by 10%
  • Up to 10% of national PC sales will be through the National Educational PC deal
  • Netbooks have not been as successful as predicted.  That’s because notebooks and netbooks do not have a great price differential.  However Telco’s may offer them at discount prices in combination with mobile broadband contracts.


  • Sales down from 40,000 to 30,000
  • IDC predicts another decline in 2010.  This may level out in 2011.
  • A spike in sales (to Dell, not HP!) in 2009 was caused by the MS data centre.


  • 2009 saw a massive slowdown with 4% drop.
  • 2010 predicting a .7% increase.
  • 2011 expected to be around 3.4%

The overall levels are back to 2005 numbers.  2010 will see small decrease or a levelling out.

New opportunities

  • Exchange 2010, Office 2010, SharePoint 2010
  • Server: upgrades and low end (continuing to sell)
  • Cloud computing


  • Lots of old deployments still out there.  70% of E2003 or older.
  • E2010 “offers cost savings” and productivity improvements.
  • Easier to support and maintain.
  • Access anywhere is a mature solution.
  • €15m in upgrade business out there.

Office 2010:


Current installation figures are:

  • Office 2007 (and Office 2010 Beta/RC) is at 30.1% of the Irish market
  • Office 2003 at 29.4%
  • Office 2000 is at 12.0%
  • Office XP 23.3%
  • Office 2000: 12%
  • Office 95/97: 1.4%
  • Other MS Office 1.2%
  • Non-MS products: 1.6%

Office and SharePoint go hand in hand and drive each others sales.

Server opportunities:

  • Windows 2000 end of life on July 13th
  • Virtualisation with Hyper-V very attractive

Server 2008 R2 Foundation:

The Irish market is dominated by small companies.  Server 2008 R2 Foundation would appear to fit in.  However, I don’t know about the fit.  The Irish SME is very happy with SBS.  EBS has been a flop here.

We now get the pitch on Forefront and how it is a future investment for partners.  Again, the Irish SME is stuck in yellow-box land.

Windows 7 Plans: 41% will be running Windows 7 by end of 2011

Now we get the BPOS talk.  See my previous posts on the Patriot Act.  Many are using BPOS as a complimentary add-on to their onsite installation.  For example, some users will use online service, IM will be used, etc.

He reckons there is a niche market for SAM (software asset management).  This is related to auditing and licensing compliance.  You’ll be as popular as a taxation auditor with IT on the customer site but you might make some money.

Partner Sales + Strategy

Karl O’Leary (Partner Sales) and Colin Cassidy (Partner Strategy and Program) now take over.

Colin says that their forecasts are usually pretty accurate.  Again, I’m asking that MS Ireland takes over running the country.  Paul Rellis does more for Irish business than our glorious leader, Brian Cowen.  And anyone who can crunch numbers anyway accurately is better than the Department of Finance. 

Some boring stuff now.  Taking a breather.

MS focusing on virtualisation and Exchange this year when it comes to the partner campaigns:

When you talk about Exchange leads to a conversation about the desktop.  That’s Office 2010.  That leads to Windows 7 and IE8.  Exchange will run on Server 2008/2008 R2.  It might be virtualised and that leads to Hyper-V.  This all needs security: ForeFront.  ForeFront is developed hand-in-hand with Exchange.  Then System Center is used to manage everything.  Don’t stop there.  Push productivity: Then you have Unified Communications (OCS) and SharePoint.  When you do OCS/Exchange then you talk about mobility, e.g. Smart Phones running Windows Mobile.  BTW, there’s something happening with Ballmer next week. 

MS Ireland going after VMware compete business with everything they have.  There is a pincer movement including HP and Dell.  Partners can choose the Bush principle: “You’re either with us or against us”.

4,000 Exchange upgrades are out there in Ireland now.  176,000 XP installations with support ending.  14,583 Windows 2000 installations with support ending.  That’s business to be had.

Partners Presenting

Gerry Kerr from CDsoft, Hyper-V and UC are their things.  Scott from Nitech are an infrastructure/dev partner working in BI.  A dude, Frasier, from Ergo as well.  They are field engineers who also say they do BI.  Oh boy, flashbacks of an awful part of the TechEd 2010 keynote.  I’m watching the doors to see if people are leaving … oh there we go 🙂

Gerry says something that I’ve been saying for over a year.  Hyper-V wins against VMware when you sell System Center, not virtualisation.  It’s the manageability that wins.

Louise Connaughton, EMEA Partner Support Group

Some stuff about what services you get as a partner.  That led into a coffee break which was sorely needed.

The Office / SharePoint Launch Wave

The 3 pillars of the combined solution are:

  • Best user experience: desktop, VDI, terminal services, phone, etc.  Office will also be online.  You can “round trip” between online Office and on-site office with document fidelity.
  • IT Choice: on site or online
  • Business Platform: Office, SharePoint, Dynamics, SQL, partners like Siebel and SAP

MS claims the ribbon is responsible for users using 4 times more features in Office 2007 than they did in 2003.  The ribbon is fully deployed in Office 2010.

2010 Launch

  • Partner readiness day (sales and marketing)
  • Partner IT road show in Dublin, Belfast, Shannon and Cork – similar to the Windows 7/Server 2008 R2/Exchange 2010 launch tour
  • A v-Launch

2010 PR:

  • nWOW microsite release
  • eBook with production quality video

Patrick Herlihy Demo

Patrick is the Exchange/BI techie in MS Ireland partner sales.  He’s now doing a demo of XP/Office 2003 VS Windows 7/Office 2010.

Barry McMahon

Barry (a MS sales person – Application Platform Lead) now talks about SharePoint’s role in BI.  Excel is the most valuable client application – agreed. I worked in a company where over 50% of business data was in spreadsheets.

Three contexts of BI

  • Organisational BI: Built and maintained by IT, for use by the company
  • Team BI: Built by the team, for the team
  • Personal BI: Built by me, for use by me (Excel lives here)

Excel (PowerPivot) with SQL enables and empowers that last one.  It’s made easier by PowerPivot.  Now you have an application. (you can add something called a Slicer to allow data selectivity).  That application can be published to SharePoint.  Here’s where your MIS department will pull their hair out, worried about application/data accuracy.

Here’s the pitch for WPC10 July 11-15th in Washington DC.  MS wants your money.


They broke us up into 4 groups for lunch so 4 different MS teams could come in to do Q&A sessions.  The first one was funny; I was a bold boy last year and we joked about it a bit.  I skipped the last one; the speaker’s voice goes through me like a rusty blade.

The rest of the day is being broken into different tracks.  I was going to skip the virtualisation track – there’s nothing I can learn about the MS line.  However, they have Citrix in and I’d like to learn what they’re up to.  Spoke to some person during the week from Citrix.  She wanted to hear my opinion on their message.  It’s now my stock answer: “Too much marketing; just tell me what the damned thing does because neither your site nor your presentations do”.  So here I am sat waiting for the virtualisation session.

I will do those sessions as different posts.

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