James Governor's Monkchips

Note To MS: Treat Certified Partners better, Don’t recommend consulting time

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Is Microsoft morphing into a job creation company for consultants? Why do I ask:

I share an office with a couple of guys that have a nice little business called YellowPark. Its offerings range from network support to database development to Exchange hosting, and professional CD-burning. They have a lot of clients in the education space and they are growing at a nice clip in both customers and cashflow.

Chris and Jerome are both Microsoft oriented. Their default position is to offer Microsoft technologies to solve customer problems. Microsoft is what they know. Its what they grew up with. YellowPark is proud of the fact they have attained certification under the Microsoft Certified Partner Program. [So proud in fact that i thought Chris was going to deck a guy that came to a party here at Christmas, took their certification plaque off the wall, and started laughing and screwing around with it. That certification… those are the guys paying for your beer, man]. MCPP is not just a certification, its also a subscription service designed to help with co-marketing, technical support and so on. So the partner pays Microsoft for a certification and associated benefits.

Yesterday when an expletive explosion, entwined with “microsoft”, erupted from the other side of the room I was a little surprised.

It turns out that Chris had just used one of the support calls bundled in terms of the MCPP subscription. He had what sounded like a pretty simple inquiry; just some insights into the necessary network topology for an Active/Passive Exchange 2003 cluster. Not many of YellowPark’s clients have requested the kind of uptime such a cluster would provide, so this was something new. Not everyone has SCSI clustering experience.

What was the advice from Microsoft support? Hire a consultant.

No kidding.

Excuse me – Microsoft, the exponent of productivity and better living through software, is recommending consulting time for an issue like this?

How many times have I heard Microsoft attack IBM for creating jobs for consultants? How many times have i heard the riff rant that IBM intentionally builds flaky software to drive consulting revenue?

So what is going on here? At a time when open source communities are offering unprecendented level of support, when IBM is throwing money at the channel to win discontents, when CA and Symantec are doubling down on extend and embrace investments, surely Microsoft should be treating its partners better than ever.

This riff is based on one experience, so I can’t make a more general argument about it. All I can do is advise Microsoft that people paying to be part of your certification and support programs should be treated better than this. YellowPark just wasted a call and won’t be using your support again. Your cherished IT-Pro customer sat ratings just took a very small hit. I hope this was an isolated experience – because small hits add up.

If your search engine wasn’t so crap for finding Microsoft related support materials (recent improvements notwithstanding Scoble), then YellowPark probably wouldn’t have needed to use a support call in the first place.

Just a note then to say come on Microsoft, you know better than to let your infantry down in this way. What is it with Dell and Microsoft? Surely not complacency, not in such a “competitive market”.



One comment

  1. I think we’ve entered the era where the first line of suppport should be a Google search… even the MS engineer should write down the question and start a Google search.

    Haviong worked for two large systems companies it does sound like this question is a request for consulting. Just becuase you think the answer should be simple doesn’t mean it is… the MS support staffer smelled a minimal risk/reward ratio in shooting from the hip and the potential downside to an answer that didn’t take a myriad variables into consideration. The best asnwer to many question is still “It depends” and recommending expertise is a good answer.
    The fact that the questioner is a consultant/partner doesn’t get them off the hook to do the Google search and find someone recommending best practices… I did the search and found a lot of free advice from consultants seeking clients. Some of the answers were for sale on-line too…

    When in doubt… Google… or MSN Search for that matter.

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