I know, I could have just posted all of the upcoming Academy Live Webcasts in one post, but I wanted to logically group them together to make it easier for people to find and filter those that they are specifically interested in.  The first batch were all Windows Server 2008 R2 related, and these beauties are all System Center related.  Some of you may say, why does this post have the word ‘important!’ in, yet the WS2008 R2 post, didn’t – is that less important?  No, it’s not that the WS2008 R2 sessions are less important, however, if you’re a Partner right now, doing virtualisation and core infrastructure work, System Center is a huge opportunity, particularly if you’re a System Integrator, services-driven business, however if you’re a customer, the opportunity to standardise, comprehensively manage, and extract efficiency from your current investments, has never been greater.

This first one is useful to see how Microsoft can manage a whopper of an estate, using the same tools that can manage an estate with just a few servers.  Both System Center Operations Manager, and Configuration Manager, are improving all the time, with their most recent releases (R2 for SCOM, and the upcoming R3 for SCCM) driving innovation in management still further, yet provide it at a low entry cost for customer environments.

WNS172PAL: How Microsoft IT Manages the Datacenter with System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R2 and System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2

Presented by John Birrell-Levine

Friday 29th January – 17:30-18:30 GMT (Click here to calculate your local time)

With a 21,000-server footprint across production and managed labs, Microsoft uses the System Center product suite to efficiently manage the datacenter.  Asset inventory, security compliance, and service monitoring are the key services that Microsoft IT provides for datacenter platform customers.

Register Here!

I mentioned earlier, the opportunity for both Partners and Customers around System Center, both from a future, and current technology investment perspective.  The following 2 webcasts will hopefully illustrate to you, Microsoft Partners, exactly what I’m talking about.

MGT58PAL: Selling Management with SharePoint 2010

Presented by Leslie Kitz

Tuesday 19th January – 16:00-17:00 GMT - (Click here to calculate your local time)

SharePoint management in the datacenter is a relatively new value proposition for your customers.  After this session, you’ll be able to tell your customers why they should manage SharePoint and why System Center is THE solution for managing SharePoint 2010.  With configuration, deep monitoring and remediation, virtualization and protection capabilities, System Center is the most comprehensive SharePoint management solution to date.

Register Here!

MGT59PAL: Selling Management with Exchange 2010

Presented by Leslie Kitz

Tuesday 26th January - 16:00-17:00 GMT - (Click here to calculate your local time)

Your customers should be managing their Exchange 2010 deployments with System Center.  This session will recap the cost benefits of managing Exchange and highlight the improvements we’ve made to the Operations Manager 2007 MP for Exchange 2010 that decrease resolution times and take proactive monitoring to a whole new level.

Register Here!

Admittedly, those descriptions aren’t my words, but hopefully they give you a brief indication of the opportunity out there.  If you’re a SharePoint Partner, and you just do SharePoint, you’re probably very good at it.  You’re probably efficient, quick at deployment, and the customer is happy with the work you’re providing, but are you selling yourself short?  Once that SharePoint site is in, is that it?  Door closed, see you next time?  Do you ever get involved in the monitoring, the protection, the patching, or the virtualising of that SharePoint estate, or do you let someone else come in and do that, and you’re not really bothered who it is?  Could it be you?  The great thing about the System Center suite, is it’s cost is massively outweighed by it’s value.  From monitoring through to protection, System Center offers customers a comprehensive management platform, and the same applies to Exchange too.  So the cost to acquire these technologies is low, your services revenue increases because of the extra days onsite, yet at the same time, you’ve provided that customer with a comprehensive management solution which can encompass not only their SharePoint and Exchange estates, but out to their servers, their storage, their clients and more.  Trusted Advisor is what you’ve become, and the ROI of the project increases, due to factors such as man-hours spent fire-fighting problems – problems that were reactive, and are now proactively handled.  It’s powerful stuff, and that’s the reason that behind SharePoint, System Center is Microsoft’s fastest selling product to $1Billion.

MGT57PAAL: System Center Pricing and Licensing Update - January 2010

Presented by Diane Prescott and Sean Suydam

Wednesday 27th January – 16:00-17:00 GMT - (Click here to calculate your local time)

Understand the key System Center pricing and licensing changes and how to use them in your conversations with customers to sell today.  This session will bring together all of the recent changes we’ve communicated and help you position this news in your accounts.  We’ll cover System Center changes in the ECAL, the new Client Management Suite, SMSE & SMSD changes, and upcoming product launches including Service Manager.  We’ll also provide a quick recap of the System Center licensing model along with resources for the field to assist you with your customers’ pricing and licensing

If you’re not sure on the pricing and licensing changes, and want a quick update before the session, you can check out this blog post here.