A lot’s happened since my last post. Evolving responsibilities, exciting deliverables, bowling with a tech legend, Steve Wozniak, and recently the news that Fusion-io will be acquired by SanDisk.
I’ve learned a lot about how Independent Hardware Vendors (IHVs) like Fusion interact with Microsoft. Some things are different, like getting device drivers “Certified for Windows Server” and working with the Microsoft Technology Centers (MTCs), others are similar-but-different like using Windows Error Reporting, taking advantage of the amazing array of services available through Microsoft Premier Support for Developers, working with the Windows Server Partner and Customer Ecosystem (PaCE) team, getting Fusion’s enterprise sales teams engaged with their local EPG Application Platform (App Plat) counterparts, etc.
My co-workers on Fusion’s Strategic Business Development team work with other major ISVs, and their experiences have reinforced to me how exceptionally partner-friendly Microsoft is.
- Participate in the Windows Server early adopter program? No cost.
- Have a relationship with PaCE, talk about roadmaps and get meetings with Microsoft product teams? No cost.
- Microsoft quote in your press release? No cost.
- Participate in a major product launch? No cost.
Shop those “asks” around the other major ISVs and platform vendors, and you’ll experience some serious sticker shock.
(To be clear, “no cost” is my shorthand for “no check payable to Microsoft is required.” There will still be the opportunity cost of peoples’ time, travel cost to attend briefings and developer workshops on Microsoft’s Redmond campus, etc., the same as with other major ISVs.)
I’ve also learned that niche communities like device driver developers don’t get the kind of attention Microsoft is currently giving a Windows Store app developer, by a long shot. There’s a steep and painful learning curve for device driver newbies, with incomplete and contradictory documentation, under-staffed Microsoft teams who take a while to respond to questions, and processes that simply do not work as advertised. Fusion’s Premier Support contract has been a life-saver, many times. Don’t leave home without it. Don’t be fooled by the program’s materials, which imply the program is focused on in-house LOB application development – the program is spot-on for ISV and IHV development of commercial products.
So what’s next in this changing life?
I’m looking forward to Fusion joining SanDisk. The strategic alignment is excellent, each company brings strengths that complement the other, and the SanDisk execs I’ve seen are saying the right things. At least it looks that way in the webcasts, I’ve had no in-person interaction yet since I work remotely from my home-office in Redmond.
The industry prognosticators anticipate a new wave of Microsoft server releases in 2015, if that’s correct and recent release timelines apply, early adoption programs should spin up this summer sometime for Windows Server, SQL Server, etc. All your favorite products with 2012, 2012 R2 and 2013 in their name should see new releases.
Have you kept your favorite evangelist informed of the things you’re working on, and your interest in participating in early adopter programs? (Evangelist, partner manager, etc.) Be proactive, take responsibility for ensuring they know you’re interested, because participating in early adoption programs is the best way to gain mindshare with your Microsoft contacts and leapfrog ahead of your competition.
Some folks prefer to focus on filling a gap in a Microsoft product that has kept customers from buying; hard to argue with that. But what’s the best way to identify a gap you can fill? Participate in an early adopter program 🙂 You can identify the gap early, and get feedback and technical assistance from the Microsoft product team so your product is ready to fill that gap when Microsoft’s new release launches.
Perhaps there’s one more constant in life – the value of participating in Microsoft’s early adoption programs.