Hi there!  In this blog post we highlight the early Windows Server 2012 engineering validation program.  Long before we reach RTM dedicated customers deploy in production, test and identify issues during the development phase to help us achieve a high quality release.  Kim Griffiths, TAP Program Lead and Allen Stewart, Principal Group Program Manager will introduce you to the details of the TAP program for Windows Server 2012.

Natalia Mackevicius
Group Program Manager, Partner and Customer Ecosystem Team

 

In Bill Liang’s (CVP, Server and Cloud Division) blog introducing Windows Server “8” last September he mentioned that we started this wave by talking to customers (surveyed over 26,000 customers, had more than 200 customer meetings and documented over 6000 customer requirements).   We didn’t stop there.  As a matter of fact, we’ve been working with customers throughout the entire development process and they bring a unique, valuable perspective to the table.  How we work with customers changes over time, gradually transitioning from talking about needs/requirements to deploying with the onset of our early adopter program.

What is TAP?

The launch of our Developer Preview build on MSDN also signaled the kick off our pre-release product adoption and development program (aka Technology Adoption Program, or TAP).  TAP is an engineering-run validation program, designed to provide direct customer feedback (bugs, deployments, etc.) to our development teams. The high emphasis placed on such engineering programs is on deploying and integrating into a diverse customer base, with diverse hardware and infrastructure that cannot be replicated by our development teams.  For Windows Server this means providing builds to customers at points in our development lifecycle, along with specific validation and deployment goals for each technology area.  The validation goals change over time, depending on where we are in our development cycle and what components are ready to be evaluated by the customers.  For example, early goals are focused on confirming that the features work as designed, while goals later in the cycle focus on scale deployments with high performance workloads. Oh, and to make this program even more interesting and relevant, customers deploy the pre-release operating system in production!  

One last note about early adoption programs: TAP isn’t the only program we run before we release.  We also have our Rapid Deployment Program (RDP).  The RDP is run by our marketing team and is focused on gathering early success stories from customer deployments, helping to build excitement and awareness through-out the ecosystem as we launch.  The Windows Server 2012 RDP formally kicked-off in March shortly after our beta release.

TAP isn’t for everyone.  Why Early Adopters are Important to Our Release.

It should come as no surprise that we do a lot of testing during our development process.  What we can’t test or simulate is the myriad of customer environments and configurations that exist.  This is where our early adopters come in.  We ask selected customers to join our TAP that are ready, willing, and able to dedicate time and resources to planning, testing and deploying the early bits in their labs and production environments. In return for their investment, the TAP team provides the necessary resources for the customers to deploy in their environment including: test and deployment guides, readiness training, and production support. TAP production customers receive full 24x7 support from a highly trained, dedicated team of Beta Engineers knowledgeable in the new Server platform.  It is no secret that TAP customers learn and become extremely knowledgeable on the new server platform as they test and deploy (a welcome by-product for many in the program).

Our TAP customers come in all sizes, from different industries/verticals, and are from around the globe.  What they have in common is that they are focused on testing specific areas of investment in Windows Server 2012.  We ask that they “get the bits” into their labs or production environments as quickly as possible after we release. During this test and deployment process, we ask them to test and provide detailed product bugs and verbose feedback on all scenarios/features.

The data from the customers helps us to fix what’s broken, course correct where we need to, and build a product of the highest quality.  We have an incredible group of customers in our program that are motivated and opinionated, and not afraid to tell us what they think.  Perfect!   

Customers agree to join us for a variety of reasons.  Many are eager to be a part of the process and help to shape the next generation of the operating system.  TAP gives them the opportunity to work directly with engineering teams, helping us to understand why (and how) they make technology decisions.  They also want to move quickly to the next version and take advantage of new functionality and efficiencies that will help their business. By starting with the voice of the customer, and continuing to engage with them throughout, we are able to build a product that works for our customers and helps them evolve into the new virtualization and cloud design points.

We look forward to sharing best practices and experiences from these early customer deployments. We want to personally thank our TAP participants for everything they’ve done to date to help validate Windows Server 2012…and so should you.

Riding the Beta Wave!

 

Kim Griffiths
Sr. Program Manager, TAP Lead
Server and Cloud Division

Allen Stewart
Principal Group Program Manager (PACE- Customer Ecosystem)
Server and Cloud Division