During a recent discussion with the MSSMS mailing list the question/“RANT” was posed “Why is it only partners (mostly Gold and better) that are allowed to go to MS Technical Airlifts?”
What is a Technical Airlift? In a nutshell an airlift is when a group of people are brought into one city to learn about one or more new technologies or to quote from one of the recent airlift descriptions:
“At this airlift, partners were taught how to take advantage of service opportunities by providing high-level solution deliverables that help maximize their customers’ investments…”
What is a User Group? from http://www.user-groups.net/user_group.html
“If you use a computer, no matter how much or how little you know about it, a user group can help you get more out of your computing experience. It's a great way to learn more about your computer, and its software, and become an active participant of a larger community.”
Since in both cases you are talking about a large group of technical people within one city, the question that I pose is why not provide User Group with some resources to put on technical hands-on presentations like the labs at an airlift? If set up correctly, in conjunction with MS partners, particularly training centers, most user groups could easily put on a few hand-on lab presentations.
Some reasons why this currently does not happen at user groups are:
- It is a lot of work to design the virtual machines
- It is a lot of work to design the hands on lab and create lab manuals
- Licensing / legal issues with virtual machines
- MS has the know how, most user groups don’t
- UG need the support from MS
How does this benefit Microsoft? (In my opinion)
- Provide better support to the local IT community
- Provide more and better interaction with Microsoft partners.
- TAMs can announce these hands-on labs to their clients thereby showing added value to their service
- TAMs can use these opportunities to fulfill their objectives
- Provide MVPs with more opportunities to support the local IT communities
- Provide a better public perception of Microsoft with in the IT community and management within local companies
- Showing added value to clients who already own the MS technologies
- Allowing companies who are not gold partners to acquire the skills needed to support their customers
Ultimately this will lead to a better understanding of Microsoft technologies and improve relationships.
My past suggestion:
How Microsoft can help user groups