Another year, another WPC. This conference, boasting over 16,000 attendees, recently concluded in Toronto so a few shout outs are in order.
Microsoft Professional Degree (MPD). A new twist on an old concept was introduced and I both like it and dislike it. Microsoft has pivoted
part of its certification story to now be the attainment of a “Professional Degree” that essentially is a glorified certification (ala the MCSE/MCSD-era). I like the branding as it aligns with a lot of certificate-based online offerings from accredited colleges (Harvard, et al) and other learning institutions (such as Galvanize and Market Motives). And I like the solutions-oriented business approach balanced with hardcore Geek. The first offering, a data science curriculum, also gets a “like” from me as it’s an in-demand topic that is near and dear to my heart and, quite frankly, an area that Microsoft has lagged in as it seeks to get both more recognition and traction for Power BI.
What I dislike concerns the simple reprovisioning of existing content from the online curriculum warehouse edX.org. This educational entity provides the “same” content to a number of EDUs including Harvard, MIT and numerous other institutions. I think it’s intellectually lazy of Microsoft to simply rebrand existing content with its MSFT brand blessing. And I struggle to see what Microsoft’s unique value proposition is with its MPD beyond the “name game.” I’m also disturbed that Microsoft is competing with some if it’s learning partners including New Horizons, SQLSoft3 and even Bigger Brains. You’ll recall I explored the anti-competitive nature of Microsoft’s educational offerings in this recent blog. Finally, I have a call into a compliance officer at a leading online University seeking to answer my question on how Microsoft can use the term “degree” when its not an accredited educational institution. I’ll report back on his answer.
The NEW StorageCraft. To be honest, the past couple of WPCs, StorageCraft hasn’t been a top-of-mind conversation. Sure they were there with bells on but it felt a bit tired. That has changed dramatically in the past year as the founders took what was essentially a buyout offer from a private equity firm earlier this year. And not surprisingly, with an investment round just short of $200-million, there is a sense of urgency to put that money to work NOW! StorageCraft had, by my count, two major announcements.
Cloud-to-cloud backup. What initially appeared as a “me too” announcement quickly emerged as a portfolio play. The notion that the world needs another cloud-to-cloud backup can be tempered with a conversation I had with Curt James, VP of Marketing. He indicated that the large number of StorageCraft partners now have another offering in their backup and disaster recovery (BDR) portfolio. So the initial focus of this solution, which was announced at WPC but will be dispatched later this summer, is the existing StorageCraft partner. Now that makes sense.
Rebranding. StorageCraft announced a new web site, logo and rebranding strategy. This includes a new StorageCraft Partner Network and portal in the next few months. Driving this refresh was also a commitment to increased global expansion efforts and enhanced profitability models for partners.
As I surveyed the community on its reaction to WPC, I essentially heard WPC was “OK” and not bad. I didn’t witness nor did I hear any major paradigm shifts coming out of WPC. To me it was notable that Kevin (“KT”) Turner was gone gone gone from this WPC. This controversial Chief Operating Officer (COO) recently left Microsoft to direct an investment banking fund. And that’s perhaps the best news coming out of WPC for partners and especially vendors! And my WPC Hero award this year goes to Jeff Shuey, enthusiastic IAMCP member who was positive about the experience on Facebook 7x24 during the nearly five day long WPC conference. Until next year….