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Microsoft raids Symantec, snaps up UK licensing sales head

It's a ‘mobile first, cloud first’ world

Microsoft has confirmed what the channel already knew: Jay Epton, Symantec director of new routes to market for the UK and Ireland, will be moving across to head up enterprise licensing resellers.

As El Chan revealed previously, Edward Hyde, the current boss of licensing solutions providers (LSP) is set to be ops director for small and mid-market solutions partners (SMS&O), with a specific focus on the cloud.

In a note to channel partners, Laura Bouchard, director of the partner sales team at Microsoft, rubber stamped Epton as UK LSP sales director, joining the company on 2 March.

“Jay will be joining Microsoft to take on this important role that will be pivotal as we drive the transformation in our LSP partners," she said.

The role of the LSP will likely be phased out in the next 18 months to two years, being marginalised by the fluffy white stuff, specifically SaaS, our sources say. Microsoft has not publicly confirmed this.

The fees that LSPs make on Microsoft has been repeatedly raided by the vendor in recent years, making the market less attractive anyway.

Microsoft is already dragging the licensing model into the modern age with the Microsoft Products and Services Agreement (MPSA), an everlasting agreement in which customers – or the incumbent channel partner – open a purchasing account by legal entity, department or cost centre so that procurement is centralised or decentralised as required.

The power base will shift to Cloud Solutions Providers, and there are currently less than ten of these in the UK including Phoenix IT Group, Softcat, Outsoucery and Cobweb Solutions.

CSPs are currently allowed to sell Office 365 and Windows Intune – but more products over time, we are told - and can bill the customer directly. From the summer, Microsoft will create a second tier of CSPs which buy via distribution, the global head of channels Phil Sorgen previously told us.

Bouchard continued that the transformation of LSPs is to “ensure they understand Microsoft’s evolution to a Mobile First, Cloud First company and they understand how they need to transform their business to benefit from these opportunities”.

Basically, the select band of LSPs – LARs in old money – will no longer have the luxury of simply taking orders from the rest of Microsoft’s channel for Enterprise Agreements, and bagging a margin for doing so.

CSPs will need to deliver the software-as-a-service and drive tech deployment to ensure customers are using what they pay for. At least that's the theory.

Epton spent 12 years at Symantec in a number of roles directly involved with the channel, including EMEA channel account director and EMEA senior sales manager for MSP strategy.

At Microsoft, he’ll be responsible for driving the Partner Path to Value and Cloud Profitability framework “to ensure all LSP partners have a viable business model targeting all relevant Microsoft value offerings, and a profitable cloud practice".

We asked Microsoft for a statement on Epton, but it re-sent us the one about Hyde hot-footing it to the new cloud role. You’ve got to love ‘em. ®


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