Channel gets a JumpStart on Forefront security offerings

Houston – Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) has created a new business group for security and will offer fat rebates for security solution providers that attach Forefront products to their IT solutions.

Mark A. Hassall, director of Windows partner marketing for Microsoft’s newly created Identity and Security Business Group, said the company wants to win over security and infrastructure solution providers by offering them a 50 per cent bonus payment on its first Forefront security and identity and access products.

Called the SSA JumpStart program, with this limited time offer (ending September 30 of this year), a solution provider could potentially receive, for example, $45,000 in rebate for a $100,000 deal. The SSA JumpStart program pays up to 30 per cent in rebates and, during this limited time offer, Microsoft will pay an extra 50 per cent on that rebate.

“Imagine that your (rebate) claim is $30,000 on that $100,000. When you submit that first claim you will be paid 50 per cent more on that original $30,000, so effectively it is a 45 per cent rebate,” said Derick Wong, senior product manager, security/management for Microsoft Canada.

In Canada, Microsoft is trying to engage more partners with the Forefront suite of products, Wong said. He added that a push is needed towards these solutions and Microsoft Canada is targeting the system integrator and VAR channel because they influence the sale.

“We will give these partners some recognition that they’re helping in the sales process,” Wong said.

Hassall said these are the security specialists, and the JumpStart program appeals to partners that are experts in other areas, such as messaging and collaboration.

“Forefront is a new opportunity for them and we want to get them kick-started in the new world of identity and access,” Hassall said.

Microsoft has invested more than $75 million in identity and security business for marketing campaigns, promotions, sales resources, and partner training and readiness, Hassall added.

Another opportunity for the channel, Wong said, is in all the Lotus Notes conversion projects. According to Microsoft, 4.7 million customers are making the switch from Notes to Exchange and Wong said those projects have to be protected.

“We’re enhancing the partner resources with a security layer and with the attach concept methodology the partners can enhance its customer deliverables where it was not there before,” he said.

Microsoft will be releasing a new Identity Lifecycle Manager and a new Forefront product, code named Stirling, in the second half of 2009 to support this strategy.

These two products try to address the complete scenario of needs for creating identity and management with passwords, smart cards, biometrics and other services, Hassall said.

Forefront Stirling will have an integrated security system to help protect client and unified management consoles. It will also introduce dynamic response, which automatically responds to threats.

“Imagine a client is infected by a Trojan virus. This virus starts opening up connections to the Internet and people can attack your system and put in spyware. Typically, today the network administrator identifies the problem by looking at the firewall log files and then passes that information to a help desk technician. He would then have to find that desktop and scan it to clear the problem or take it off the network. That takes hours and sometimes days,” Hassall said.

With Forefront Stirling, because the information from the client is shared with other components it can detect and find those threats and dynamically respond to do the scan or quarantine and that happens in minutes, Hassall said.

Microsoft is also on a recruitment drive with its new business group. Hassall said last year 4,000 partners enrolled in this program. This year that group increased to 23,000. About 326 of those are in Canada. Wong said group started with just 15 Canadian partners in 2007.

“The reason why we are driving enrollment because the attach opportunity it is a natural extension for partners with Forefront,” Hassall said.

*CDN‘s full Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2008 coverage:

Microsoft Canada addresses the IT skill shortage
Microsoft adds partner cash to SaaS offerings
Microsoft partners get tools to sell SaaS
Channel gets a JumpStart on Forefront security offerings
VARbose: Streamlining of Microsoft licensing programs is overdue

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Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Former editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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