The availability of Windows Vista is fast approaching. Behind the scenes, many of the world’s leading Microsoft partners are readying themselves to demonstrate and deliver its full value to their customers.
Locally ICT services company Gen-i and systems integrator Datacom are involved in Microsoft’s global Technology Adopter Programme (TAP), that involves testing and creating applications for Windows Vista. Gen-i will also be testing and developing for 2007 Microsoft Office System and Exchange Server 2007. The purpose of the TAP programme is to ensure that these new products meet their design goals in real life business environments.
Gen-i general manager, Chris Quin, says being chosen along with some of the world’s elite partners to be a part of Microsoft’s early adopter programme is important because the work being done benefits customers in a very real way.
“Giving industry certification and training a high priority results in our people being recognised as experts. Initiatives such as TAP build on this, allowing us to grow our skills and knowledge and ensure we continue to offer the very best of service to our customers,” says Quin.Datacom business manager – Integration Solutions, Chad Basham, says Datacom jumped at the chance to get involved in TAP, viewing it as an opportunity that would benefit both the company and its customers.
“The TAP provides us a great insight into Vista and gives us an early heads-up of the technology and benefits it will bring to our customers. We’ve used the opportunity to up-skill staff and the combination of these things allows us to have some very real conversations with our customers about Vista. As one of the leading Systems Integrators in New Zealand, it also allows us to maintain our competitive advantage in the market place.
“Security is always a very real concern for our customers and Vista brings some great improvements in this area, specifically innovations such as a more granular User Account control and better USB port management. We also see Vista helping to reduce desktop management and deployment costs, allowing us to maintain a single OS image for different hardware and languages and the application compatibility toolkit reduces the effort required for application testing. All these things combine to make it easier and cheaper for us to deploy Vista to our customers,” says Basham.
Brent Colbert, Microsoft New Zealand marketing director, views both partners involvement in the TAP as extremely valuable.
“Windows Vista is a significant opportunity for our partners to provide an extremely reliable, high performing platform. We are very happy that, through TAP, Datacom and Gen-i are involved not only in the initial testing stage, but also in deploying Vista later this year.
“We innovate as much for the IT industry as for customers. Fostering innovation is central to our business model and our role as a business and technology leader. In this way, Windows Vista is more than a large part of our own business growth. We see it as a foundation for local economic growth and job creation more broadly. The challenge to our partners is to articulate this message and help their customers realise the value of the Windows Vista platform,” says Colbert.
Gen-i head of marketing, Jo Allison, says the company is excited about how they are progressing with TAP.
“While it is early days, we are creating four labs with remote access facilities spanning Auckland and Wellington and are engaging with our partners Hewlett-Packard and IBM.
“The feedback internally is that there is some really sexy and valuable stuff in Windows Vista and the other new beta products. You just have to look at e-bay, where they are already pre-selling Windows Vista to see the impact this product is going to have on the market. We are all very excited,” she says.
As Microsoft’s Colbert explains, there are also a number of early adopter partners who are not on the TAP but who are still strongly involved in testing the product in preparation for launch date. “The numbers of IT professionals and developers who attended Microsoft Tech Ed in Auckland recently to increase their skills on the new Vista platform is indicative of the continued strength and attraction of the Windows ecosystem. When you add this to TAP as well as the number of other valued partners involved in testing outside TAP - including Axon, who is trialing Windows Vista within their businesses - you start to see the excitement within the partner community,” says Colbert.
Adam Hall, Axon’s Microsoft partner alliance manager says the company is busy preparing for the release of Windows Vista.
“As a Gold Partner for Microsoft it is important that we understand their pending technologies to enable us to be proactive with our customers. To Axon, the benefit of early adoption is the ability to understand the new technology before it hits the market; to customise our current offerings and to be in a position to proactively consult with customers on the new technology,” says Hall.
Hall explains Axon has been defining its readiness program, setting out testing plans and documenting the applications and functionality that it considers to be ‘show-stoppers’.
“We have been installing and testing Windows Vista since Beta 1 on a variety of hardware types along with core applications. What I really love about Windows Vista is that it is effectively rolling up a number of functionalities that currently require multiple products, into one product. This functionality coupled with the enhanced security features and advanced deployment capabilities makes Vista very attractive to businesses.
“I believe Vista will be a catalyst for businesses to take a look at their existing practices, and many will redefine these practices so that they take advantage of new and more effective ways of working,” says Hall.