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Microsoft Lowers Bar of Entry with New Partner Program
Microsoft has streamlined its partner program and says it has "leveled the playing field" for all of its business partners around the world. Under the new Microsoft Partner Program, partners earn points, based on the technical depth and business expertise they exhibit, which give them status as Registered Partners, Certified Partners, or Gold Partners.
The new entry-level Registered Partner ranking was introduced to make it easier for companies to partner with the software giant, while Certified and Gold Partners will see more benefits, such as telephone support. Microsoft is steering the program on a product-specific course, which will allow partners to customize their Microsoft partnership with support, marketing, training, and sales material that is uniquely tailored for each partner. Microsoft currently has 11 competencies, including advanced infrastructure services, business intelligence, information worker productivity solutions, integrated e-business solutions, ISV-software solutions, learning solutions, security solutions, and networking infrastructure solutions. Additional competencies, to be added later this year, include Microsoft Business Solutions, original equipment manufacturer (OEM) hardware solutions, and licensing and software asset management solutions.
Microsoft Acquires ActiveViews for Ad Hoc Reporting
Microsoft this week announced that it has acquired ActiveViews, a privately held business intelligence software vendor based in Provo, Utah, that sells an ad hoc reporting system that integrates with Microsoft's SQL Server database and the .NET framework.
ActiveViews' eponymous software product was designed to help people at the lowest levels in a business (those who are as close as possible to where the outcome will be executed) to make business decisions. ActiveViews 1.0 was released to beta in October and is expected to become generally available soon. Microsoft plans to incorporate the ActiveViews software into SQL Server Reporting Services, where it will help users to access information more quickly and efficiently, says Bill Baker, Microsoft's general manager for business intelligence. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
JDA Strengthens Ties with Microsoft for Retail Solutions
Microsoft and JDA Software Group this week unveiled an expansion of their alliance that will see the two companies collaborate on product development, sales, marketing, and technical support. As part of the agreement, JDA, which develops enterprise applications used by major retailer chains and distributors, will base its next-generation PortfolioEnabled product line on Microsoft software, including the .NET framework, the upcoming "Yukon" release of the SQL Server database, and, possibly, Microsoft's integration software, BizTalk Server 2004 (the two companies are evaluating its use).
JDA's upcoming Portfolio product set, announced in January, will be based on Microsoft's Smarter Retailing Initiative and will reduce JDA's wide range of products (which run on Windows, Unix, and OS/400 servers) to six "business domains" that "enable retailers to take full advantage of their legacy investments" through the Microsoft initiative.
PKWARE Creates New SecureZIP Encryption Solution from PKZIP Base
PKWARE announced yesterday that, because of the burgeoning market for security software, it has created a new security product line based on its PKZIP compression software, called SecureZIP. Like PKZIP, SecureZIP allows users to compress and encrypt files, using AES or 3DES encryption standards, and to rely on either passwords or Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) certificates for authentication.
Rolling out a PKI-enabled encryption solution with SecureZIP should be easier, company officials say, because the software integrates directly with the PKI certificate repositories that companies have built using Microsoft Active Directory and LDAP directories. PKWARE says that SecureZIP (which is available now for Windows platforms, for $99.95 per seat, and will become available later this year for Unix, Linux, mainframe, and OS/400 platforms) will compete with e-mail security protocols, such as SMIME and PGP, which, company officials say, are needlessly complex and incompatible among the different platforms. The Brown Deer, Wisconsin, company also announced a new release of PKZIP for Windows Version 8 yesterday, which features an improved GUI and centralized policy management.
Companies Need to Develop Long-Term Compliance Strategies, Gartner Says
If you're looking for a "quick and dirty" fix for Sarbanes-Oxley compliance in 2004, be prepared to do it all again next year, and the year after that, advises Gartner. The IT analyst firm is recommending that companies take a more long-term and strategic view of their compliance initiatives, instead of purchasing one-off software products that address only one particular pain point. "Enterprises that choose one-off solutions for each regulatory challenge they face will spend 10 times more on compliance projects than their counterparts that take a proactive approach," said French Caldwell, research vice president at Gartner. The Stamford, Connecticut, company helped companies with compliance strategies at its Midsize Enterprise Summit East 2004 conference, held last week at the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville, Tennessee. Gartner's analysts recommend the following spending breakdown for Sarbanes-Oxley compliance initiatives: 50 percent for implementation and remediation issues, including directors' and officers' insurance and increased consulting fees; 30 percent for internal analysis, including redundant audits for the next three quarters; and 20 percent for software upgrades and new purchases.