Microsoft has announced plans to rollout a new Unified Communications program as its Office Communications Server 2007 platform attracts more specialist partners.
Microsoft group manager of partner strategy and marketing, Nick Mayhew, said the new competency will provide technical, marketing and sales resources to enable partners to develop solutions based on Microsoft Unified Communications technologies including Microsoft Exchange Server and Microsoft Office Communications Server.
Currently in the planning stages, the UC competency will be launched locally in the coming months. The vendor kick-started the US version of the program at its Worldwide partner conference earlier this month.
"There is flexibility to make it available in a way that best suits the Australian market, so we will be adjusting it to best fit out local partners' needs," Mayhew said.
Since the launch of Office Communications Server 2007, the number of Microsoft partners with a UC specialisation has grown from 23 to 75. Partners include HP, Getronics, Avanade, Dimension Data, Fujitsu, Alphawest, Kaz, Essential Data & Voice and Data#3.
"The emergence of software-based UC offerings from Microsoft has enabled a larger number of resellers and systems integrators to take a share of the market, particularly in collaboration with each other and with other telco consultancies," Mayhew said. "This initiative is designed to ensure these critical partners understand the UC technology and go-to market activities, while building a strong community of partners that possess deep expertise in developing or partnering to support voice deployments that build the UC business."
Previously, Microsoft's UC programs have focused on email and calendaring specialisations and instant messaging/presence specialisation. The new program will also involve a new Voice specialisation designed around demonstrating expertise in implementing VoIP, unified messaging and conferencing solutions.
Mayhew said voice-oriented partners had become core to Microsoft's UC strategy.
"Many of our voice-specialised partners already manage a successful telecom or voice/ data convergence SI practice offering consulting services, technical and deployment support," he said.
The vendor has delivered two rounds of local Voice Ignite training on its voice solutions. The next round will be announced to partners in the coming weeks. It will focus on building skills in both IT professionals and sales/pre-sales resources within its channel.