While reading Michael’s post yesterday regarding the end of sale of TechNet subscription it amazed me the range of reaction which we as people in the tech industry can have on an issue. This issue is a great case in point. While I greatly respect Michael’s opinion I disagree with the premises that a) the program is overly generous and b) that killing the program is a well thought out decision not made lightly.
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Jim Jones

Jim Jones has been a SysAdmin for 15 years and is currently working as a Sr. Network Administrator in West Virginia, USA. Honored to be elected a vExpert and Veeam Vanguard, Jim can be found on Twitter @k00laidIT and at his personal site, koolaid.info.
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The TechNet subscription program helps to train the admins that are often drivers for choosing the Microsoft product over other options and gives them a point of reference for learning what’s coming next. Without those trained admins choosing to deploy or at least influencing those that do Microsoft’s enterprise business can easily go down the same road as its consumer business.

Let’s start with the idea that the TechNet program is too generous. Microsoft has absolutely no problem spending big money on marketing campaigns, by some reports spending $1.5 billion on advertising Windows 8 alone. Try to look at TechNet from a marketing standpoint. Being fervent about our various platforms is not something restricted only to Linux types, those of us who really use Windows Server technologies are pretty passionate about it as well. Because TechNet allows me to having a greater understanding of the technologies presented, I am then enabled to become a bit of an unpaid evangelist for Microsoft. If I am presenting solutions to my employer or to a consulting client, those solutions are directly related to my experiences with them.

Microsoft needs us as willing and well trained admins to not only grow their brand, but at this point to even stand their ground. I’ve seen various comments and blogs that this is being phased out because as more cloud initiatives are started there is less focus on the in place server infrastructure. Even if that is the case, look at the Microsoft model of deploying the cloud infrastructure. You still have local Active Directory services to facilitate Single Sign On, you are still using the same management platforms for products such as Exchange, in the end you still have to have a need for people who understand the Microsoft way of enterprise systems architecture. If you completely remove that need, then why am I as an IT professional evaluating solutions for core enterprise services at all beholden to use a Microsoft cloud based solution?

In my mind, I just keep coming back to this being yet another example of Microsoft shooting itself in the foot. In my opinion one of the hallmarks of an excellent systems infrastructure capable of agility and stability is an admin with a breadth of knowledge capable of being creative not only within the bounds of a Microsoft design, but also in interoperability. My solutions to issues tend to not be the Microsoft way or the VMware way or the Cisco way, but rather a hodgepodge of all of the above. How do we as admins develop these types of solutions in a timely manner if we don’t have a home lab somewhere to work through the issues? Or we do have that home lab, but now it doesn’t have the Microsoft component, what does that do to the sales dollars heading to Redmond?

One of the bigger places where I truly believe Microsoft to be short sighted in this decision is by looking at it from the educational standpoint. I believe that a certification program in and of itself does not train quality admins, thus the root of the term Paper MCSE. Even in the best case scenario of going from no systems experience to certification through a series of courses, in total you are still only talking about a month or so of courses to cover the entirety of what is covered in the MCSE. To go beyond that you have to have a TechNet like product to further educate the bread and butter of their install base beyond the point of certification and classroom training. Without this component I believe that the certification product will get even more watered down than it already is, and then we, the admins they really need to like their product, will no longer have any compelling reason to work towards it.

If I am to believe the actual premise for this is that piracy rooted in misuse of TechNet is the reason for killing it, how do you fix it? If it were me I would begin by making certification (MCSA and higher) a gateway to being allowed to purchase it. This would keep the riff raff out and would further strengthen their educational products. I would personally also begin watermarking the TechNet subscription products. If we are using it the way it is supposed to it doesn’t hurt us to see our name and subscription number down in the bottom corner of the screen.

Further I believe Microsoft would be much better off if they would start putting some of their own boots on the ground and get out and work with their customers. I have been a Microsoft systems administrator for well over a decade now in the midsize business space and I have never talked to a single Microsoft sales rep. Not once. I firmly believe that if the company would work towards having a more personal level relationship with the admins who support their product those admins would be less likely to abuse products like TechNet and MSDN subscriptions.

In the end I believe that this is yet another example of the short sighted, all things to please the shareholder mentality that has invaded Microsoft since Bill Gates left the Chairman’s seat. Time and again we have seen either inferior products being rushed to release (I’m looking at you Windows 8) or decisions made that stand a very real chance at alienate a large portion of their customer base. It is time for Microsoft to start thinking like a tech company again and at least try to please those of us who make their business go.

Recently Microsoft’s game division has taken very unpopular stances against the resale of games for the new Xbox console as well as requiring Internet connectivity before you can even play a game, both stances that would drive the bottom line for both themselves and their partners, but in both situations they quickly backed away when presented with challenge. I believe that this is a challenge they should back away from as well.

For all of these reasons and more, I did sign the TechNet petition.

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4 Comments
  1. avatar
    Cody Skidmore 4 years ago

    Outstanding Jim. Thank you for writing this article. I tweeted it earlier. Can I have your permission to refer to the article on the petition?

    Respectfully,

    Cody Skidmore

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  2. avatar
    Michael Siddall 4 years ago

    Dear Jim,

    Thank you for a well balanced article i believe Michael Pietroforte Post whilst being a valid point of view is not a position that i support. I have signed the petition plus been apply pressure on linked in to try and a get the petition in front of as many people as i can.

    I would like to thank Cody for his persistence and determination with this cause and would like to thank also those that are spreading the word.

    Kind Regards

    Michael Siddall

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  3. avatar
    Cody Skidmore 4 years ago

    You are welcome Michael. However, we will never succeed without the support of legions of dedicated professionals such as you. That is where credit belongs.

    Respectfully,

    Cody Skidmore

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  4. avatar
    Robert Morris 4 years ago

    Good article. The one thing missing from this argument is, in my opinion, the overstated revenue lost to piracy. I believe that a high percentage of pirated items would never be bought by the person if they had to pay for it, so the revenues "lost" are much smaller than the companies seem to think. You will never stamp out piracy, but you may well end up reducing your revenue by making it harder for people to test your latest software.

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