The Worldwide Partner Conference kicked off this morning, and over 9,400 Microsoft partners are joining us in DC. The Worldwide Partner Conference (‘WPC’) is our largest partner event of the year and provides an opportunity to meet with partners, congratulate and celebrate our partners’ successes, and share our business priorities for the upcoming year.  This year is particularly significant with the upcoming Communications Server “14” launch and our team is excited about the opportunities this brings our partners. 

 

A growing and robust partner ecosystem

Communications Server provides a platform for partners to offer a number of complementary solutions that provide flexibility and choice to customers.  Many of our partners that adopted the software transformation of communications early are already seeing increased revenue, finding new business opportunities and tapping into markets that they would not have been able to access with the limited solutions from traditional communications vendors.

 

Three years ago, Microsoft was a newcomer at VoiceCon with just a handful of partners on the expo floor. At this year’s VoiceCon show (March 2010), more than 75% of the vendors are partnering with Microsoft Communications Server – either interoperating their solutions delivering complementary products such as devices, gateways and solutions.  Twelve partners simultaneously announced new solutions for Microsoft Communications Server “14” at VoiceCon. These solutions spanned survivable branch office appliances, enhanced 9-1-1 call routing services, new contact center solutions and more.

 

Polycom and Aastra, who announced their low cost IP desk phones at VoiceCon, made further announcements at WPC. Available in the fourth quarter of 2010, Polycom’s CX series phones are affordably priced from MSRP U.S. $199 for the CX500 IP phone, designed for use in public areas, and $299 for the CX600 IP desktop phone. These low cost IP desk phones enable a broader set of customers to deploy and use Communications Server “14”. 

 

Additionally, HP, Juniper Networks and Brocade are participating in Microsoft’s Network Optimization program, which optimizes the performance between the network and Communications Server to deliver the most reliable business communications including presence, instant messaging, conferencing, video and voice.  In addition, BT is our newest SIP Trunking partner following their recent qualification with Microsoft Communications Server.  

In addition to our technology partners, we are also excited about the successes and growth of our services partner eco-system.  A number of partners providing services based on Exchange and SharePoint are now expanding their business by offering the full Unified Communications stack, adding Instant Messaging, Conferencing and Enterprise Voice via Communications Server.  Many of the traditional voice partners have also created Communications Server practices because they are seeing more and more customer demand and relevance for a software based solution. 

 

Why is this upcoming release of Communication Server ‘14’ significant for partners?

Communications Server “14” enables partners to expand service offerings.  Communications Server is now a complete communications system that provides IM, rich Presence, Conferencing and Enterprise Voice without needing to rip or replace legacy systems.

 

Key service opportunities for partners include adding IM/presence, deploying conferencing, and replacing or enhancing legacy communications. These communications and collaboration capabilities can be added to a customer’s environment as part of a routine software upgrade cycle.  Adding services like these can generate incremental revenue for partners in the 20% range, compared to the 5-7% hardware margin many partners already recognize.  Adding services is just the beginning.

 

Many partners are already leveraging the extensible platform of Communications Server to develop new applications that include built in communications capabilities for their customers. Truly understanding their customers’ business and helping to streamline and increase customer revenue helps these develop deeper relationships with their customers.

 

“We’ve found that by using OCS as a platform, deployment is not the end of the engagement – it is the start of a long-lasting business relationship.” - Kevin Ross, Product Sales and Marketing Director, Geomant

 

Our vibrant partner ecosystem is our best asset for assisting customers to build out a communications infrastructure that is integrated, unified, optimized and cost effective. These partners are developing solutions and delivering services that provide customer choice to best meet their specific communications needs. This momentum is a sign that our partner community believes in our Unified Communications vision.

 

Are you attending WPC this year? Join us for the Communications Server “14” breakout and interactive sessions in the Business Productivity track Monday afternoon. And stop by the Business Productivity booth (#155) on the expo floor this week to see the demo of our upcoming release.

 

Kind Regards,

Kristin Murray, UC Partner Marketing