Powers Unfiltered

An entrepreneur’s journey into grid computing and partnering with Microsoft, by John Powers

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VSIP Summit

September 1st, 2006 · 3 Comments

I spent portions of the last three days at the Visual Studio Industry Partners (VSIP) summit in Redmond.  Thanks and congratulations to the whole VSIP team for a worthwhile and fun event!

VSIP is another of the Microsoft partner programs that can deliver great value if you’re patient and willing to work a bit.  As a continuing public service, I will now distill the information about the program you SHOULD be able to get from the VSIP Web site, but you can’t, because their Web site is almost as bad as the main Microsoft partner program site. 

(Without breaching the fearsome Microsoft NDA, here’s some feedback from a Microsoft manager at yesterday’s morning session, who shall remain anonymous:  “I would rather swim in a vat of squid than use the current VSIP Web site.”  Believe me, I can’t make this stuff up.  But at least THIS team is aware of the problems and is working to fix them; is anyone listenting at partner.microsoft.com?) 

VSIP is for partners that extend the capabilities of Microsoft’s Visual Studio and related development products.  There are various levels of program participation, and you get more benefits by moving up from Affiliate to Alliance to Premier.  There are a variety of ways to “extend the capabilities” of VS, from integrating new programming languages, to providing macros and add-ins, to delivering UI components, to writing libraries with new capabilities.  The Digipede Framework SDK, for example, extends Visual Studio through libraries that enable developers to write grid-enabled applications using the same tools and programming paradigms they already use.  (It’s part of the free Digipede Network Developer Edition — ask for one here today!)  You can read more about VSIP here, or at least that link works as of this moment, but navigation beyond that is at your own risk.

Now it’s certainly true that Digipede fits as closely with other Microsoft products as with Visual Studio.  So why do we spend our precious limited bandwidth with VSIP? 

Because these guys get it.  They listen.  They work hard to provide value for partners.  They understand that Visual Studio wins more market share by having great extensibility and great partners helping to extend it.  They are building a great ecosystem where partners really matter.  They have access to millions of developers on the Microsoft platform, many of whom we’d like to reach, and the VSIP team is both responsive and proactive in helping us reach those developers.  When developers have more choices and better tools, everybody wins. 

And by the way — Note to Allison Watson — THESE GUYS know how to feed partners!  Allison, see if you can recruit Laura Templeton and Amy Bang to help manage the next Worldwide Partner Conference.  (If you’ve missed the reference here, the definitive description of the packs of hungry partners prowling the halls of the last WWPC can be found in Dan Ciruli’s now-classic post, “Allison Watson Owes Me Lunch.”) 

When I say “these guys listen,” that was reflected in the way they approached this entire summit.  At some (ok, many) Microsoft meetings, a typical one-hour session is 59 minutes of PowerPoint and fast talk, concluding with a URL (that might or might not point to a valid address) where you can get more information.  While there was a bit of that in some of the VSIP presentations, mostly there was a fair bit of give-and-take with the attending partners.

My favorite presenter at this event, Luca Bolognese, is apparently well aware of this phenomenon.  He began the last 45-minute section of the day as follows, absolutely deadpan:

“I have four hours of material to present, and I will try not to go over four hours.  My presentation is in three parts, any one of which I may easily screw up, so please hold your questions until the end so I do not have to start over.” 

His presentation was actually excellent, he took questions as he went along, and he finished on time.  I can’t tell you what he’s working on, but he can, and it’s slick.  Check out his blog (although it’s not updated recently), or check out the LINQ Project, and if you have a chance to hear him speak, do it.

Other slick things I can’t talk about are talked about by Microsoft bloggers like Paul Andrew , who is overseeing the wonderful new Windows Workflow Foundation, and Richard Turner, who manages the invaluable Product Formerly Known as Indigo (Windows Communication Foundation).  These are two core pieces of .NET 3.0.  Let me second Robert W. Anderson’s request:  Free .NET 3!  Paul and Andrew — somehow, please find a way to  release .NET 3 independent of (and before) Vista! 

I’ll wrap this up by saying — if your product touches Visual Studio in any way, this is a program worth considering, and a team worth getting to know.  

Tags: Events · Partnering with Microsoft

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Peter // Sep 2, 2006 at 12:39 am

    Nooooo! Please remove the section encouraging Allison Watson to recruit Laura and Amy! Many a noble Microsoftie has thrown themselves onto the barbed wire of disfunctional, ineffective groups, and in the end there was nothing more to show for their sacrifice than more bodies hanging limp on the barbed wire.

    Spreading the talent an inch thick and a mile wide won’t help anything – leave the VSIP team alone so they can keep doing what they do so well.

    You missed an important word in that quote: “I would rather swim in a vat of LIVE squid than use the current VSIP Web site” :-)

  • 2 john // Sep 2, 2006 at 2:55 am

    Well, I believe this supports (in a rather extreme fashion) my assertions that there may be trouble in partnerland!

    Personally, I think the Watson Administration has done a great job in a dozen or more areas (seriously), and I’ve commented on those as well. I’ll limit my critiques (mild in comparison to Peter’s, er, colorful metaphor…) to the Bureau of Partner Feeding (bad, but easily fixed, especially with some competent and caring attention) and the Bureau of Disfunctional Web Sites (vastly worse, possibly irredeemable). Notice that I didn’t propose that any VSIP team members hurl themselves onto the latter.

    And I stand corrected on the quote. Thanks, Peter.

    I’m John Powers, and I approved this comment.

  • 3 Joe Marini // Feb 10, 2007 at 12:23 am

    And just for the record, I’m the one who made that comment.

    And I stand by it.

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