I really appreciate it.
I always love coming down to Heavybit.
Got to talk to so many good groups today,
and I'm just constantly really impressed
with how each of the companies
are doing. Some awesome work to make developers' lives better. Thank you for putting all your passion
into the work that you're doing.
Just a little bit about me,
I'm Ed Blankenship.
I started at Microsoft.
I'm going on my fifth year so far,
and I started out in engineering
as Program Manager for environment management,
release management, lab management.
I moved, about three years ago,
to launch our SaaS-based service,
which is now Visual Studio Team Services.
I've been in that role for quite a while now
as a product manager for a DevOps family of products.
And before Microsoft,
I actually was awarded as a Microsoft MVP for five years. I was a consultant for application lifecycle
management and DevOps for many, many enterprise teams.
Even before that,
I was Release Engineering Manager
at a dev tools startup for nine different product lines.
So I've been doing this kind of work
for about 10 years now,
especially keeping in touch
with how enterprise development teams
are managing and building software.
I've been with our product line
since the beginning of it, 10 years ago with TFS,
so it's been a long journey.
But I love this space,
and I love helping teams get better
about building software.What I really want to do today is talk a little bit
about how you can leverage enterprise channel partners,
that always comes along with how you build
a CIO value prop, since you want to sell
to enterprise development teams.
Leveraging Your Enterprise Partnerships
The first thing I usually like to start with
is just talking a little bit about the types
If you have a community team
and a field marketing group,
then you might have individual developers
covered from a coverage standpoint.
But if you've got less than 10 people
managing your sales,
which I think that's a lot of us in the room, then companies like Microsoft can be potentially
a really great partner for you to help
with reaching development teams within the enterprise.
Just to think about the kinds of different
partnerships that are available with companies
There's reseller partnerships.
There's certainly consulting services
that are available.
There's software and service vendors like you.
There's our sales field,
and then another one that a lot of companies
forget about, which are actually influencer partnership networks.
At Microsoft, we call these the Microsoft MVPs
and the regional directors,
and they're a very important group of people
that we have.
As we think about the Microsoft partnership community,
I'm narrowing it down just to our software vendor partners,
but we have a ton of partners.
And this is really important
to making Microsoft successful with the developer community.
Our vision is to build an open and flexible tool chain
for any app, any developer, on any platform.
The developer community has really been seeing that over the last few years,
and we've been doing a lot of hard work
to make sure we're making the right decisions,
building the right products to make that happen
and that we have some ways to go with that.
And really the teams that are here
and the other dev tools startups are really helping
us by helping us do that.
I've just got some numbers up here
about some of our traction so far,
but we have a marketplace that has
extensions available for Visual Studio Code,
our lightweight, cross-platform editor,
which developers love. We've already got 1,177 extensions there. We have our traditional Visual Studio IDE,
which of course developers love as well,
with over 6,500 extensions.
We just introduced, for our SaaS-based service
for development teams, Visual Studio Team Services.
We introduced that back in November,
and we now have over 170 extensions in the store. There are lots of great partner development
that we've had.
The reason why partners end up choosing us
is because our reach across the globe
to the developer marketplace is huge.
We have a wonderful developer community,
over 10 million developers,
and the reason those partners really like
taking advantage of partnering with us
are because of the bullhorn that we have
to being able to reach those.
We have lots of different ways
that you can take advantage of the Microsoft bullhorn
to reach the developer community. Things like our developer events constantly get millions of developers, event booths, PR, newsletters
and blogs. One thing that a lot of partners miss out on
is that we have developer subscriptions
that are both free and paid developer subscriptions.
Our partners like to provide
additional benefits to those subscribers,
and those are great customer bases.
Because the leads that come off of those
are incredibly valuable.
They're really well targeted for development teams, wonderful stuff there.
I usually like to help people understand
that we actually have really good machinery as well,
for helping development teams through different
kinds of funds.
For example, we have BIF funds and CIF funds.
I won't go into the boring details there,
but it's basically money to help
implement a certain practice. We've been really helping teams
implement DevOps practices,
but we put the funds behind that
to help them, meet them where they are,
and move them forward with their development practices.
If you have any questions about any of these, I'm
happy to talk to you afterwards about how to leverage these.
But getting access to this bullhorn:
One of the other really important ways
of doing this is through our 250 direct developer sellers
who own accounts, who have coverage from many
Fortune 1,000 companies across the world.
As those sellers aim to serve their customer,
they often mention non-Microsoft solutions
or dev tools that are well integrated
into Microsoft products,
and they do that because they want to help out customers.
It's helping them out with a sale. We like to build really great platforms
that other ecosystems can build on top of.
And these sellers are awesome.
I love our sales team.
They are amazing.
They have helped us create over a billion dollar business
and they are killing it every year for us.
It's because they have the best relationships
with CIOs and VPs of Engineering,
and technical decision makers,
across these Fortune 1000 companies.
So I love them. We use them to help us push
and make sure our customers know
how we're helping them out.
Telling a DevOps Story
One of the things you want to consider
when you want to partner with an enterprise partner
like Microsoft: You're going to want to
reframe your message, to make it appropriate
for selling to the CIO or the technical decision maker,
instead of the developer.
Some of the things that I've noticed
that tend to work out really well
with CIOs and technical decision makers,
especially as we do executive briefings
in our executive briefings center,
it needs to go about addressing organizational pain. And a lot of those pains stem from scaling.
If you can think about being a CIO
with thousands of engineers under you, one really big thing that resonates well
is increased productivity.
They're constantly concerned about reducing costs.
Another thing that's been really interesting lately
in the last few years has been leaders wanting
to make sure that their teams are able
to be faster to market. As you think about it,
startups are upending their businesses.
So something that helps, to get better about
shipping to the market quicker, is going to help out.
DevOps is really one of those big things
that fits in that area lately.
Another one is standardizing tools.
CIOs don't really like to see proliferation
and so that's one of the things
that Microsoft has really been trying to do,
which is provide a platform
that meets the needs of their teams
but allow for a pluggable ecosystem.
Seamless integrations is another one of those.
If you've been running into enterprises who are really
concerned with mitigating their compliance risks,
or actually just risks in general,
but compliance in particular,
it's really expensive to maintain compliance.
So CIOs are really interested in that:
security, identity, uptime and availability,
all the usual ones you could think of.
Because of those value props
that resonate with CIOs,
there's some major areas of investment
that we've been making.
Some of them have been around helping out
with continuous integration
and continuous delivery,
but also automated testing and
You might have noticed a big acquisition
just a little while ago.
The last time I was here was with Xamarin
for mobile development, developer productivity.
We're moving more into the production space,
to help development teams out, things like monitoring
and understanding root cause analysis,
and certainly, analytics.
But for us, it's all about the cloud. One of our jokes internally is all roads lead to Azure,
and that's something that's super important to us.
Why don't we talk just a little bit about
what a good partnership looks like. How can you potentially be a really good partner
with someone like Microsoft?
I'm going to just do a couple of case studies
here really quickly.
Two that were just really recent for me
were both LaunchDarkly and Redgate.
We asked both companies to come up
on stage at Build
and announce their integrations. The key thing there
that we saw, that was really valuable to us,
was that their solutions added value,
on top of the solutions that we provided,
in a really awesome way.
The teams quickly put together
a really cool, integrated story, built on top of that,
built an extension, launched it out,
and it was really great for us.
For us, we got to show the benefits
of our recently released marketplace
and extension model,
as well as being able to extend our DevOps story.
For LaunchDarkly, if you're not familiar,
they have great feature flags as a service,
and that builds really well with our release management,
our automated deployments,
as well as our
agile portfolio tracking features
that are going through.
Redgate's really great about managing
database schema changes and visualizing those, as part of the release process. They fit really well,
and that was a really easy story
for us to be able to tell better together.
Another case study that I was going to mention
Before we acquired Xamarin,
Xamarin was a really great partner with us.
And the reason was,
if you were a seller of Visual Studio,
we needed to have an answer
for mobile developers that were within the enterprise.
The greatest thing about the Xamarin technology
was we could tell a two-way story.
You could build mobile apps with Visual Studio
using web-based technologies
like Apache Cordova,
but at the same time,
you could also build native apps,
reusing C# and the same code
with Xamarin technology,
and so it was a really good story.
Our sales people loved going out
and telling that Xamarin story.
They didn't get comped on it,
which, if you know any sales people,
if they have to talk about something,
or they want to talk about something,
they want to get comped on it.
But they did it anyway, because
it helped them actually meet their goals as well.
The Xamarin and Visual Studio technology melding
was a great story to be able to go tell.
If you've decided that partnering
with a company like Microsoft
would be a really good fit for you
as you go out to the enterprise,
I put together a set of
what I would call an MVP for going out
with that integrated kind of story.
The first thing, of course,
is to make sure you have some kind
of integrated solution with that partner. That's the first step.
The second one, I would have some kind of deck
that talks directly to the sales team,
of that channel partner,
and says why they should care about your solution.That really gets to also trying to understand
the specific goals and incentives
and comp plans
and all the sorts of things
for that group of people.
You can help those sellers out
by already having a set of customer-ready
decks or materials, leave behinds,
those kinds of things,
that have the integrated messaging together,
so that they can go and share your message
on behalf of you.
You want that.
You also, especially for dev tool startups,
you want to think about making sure
that you have technical resources.
These are things like package demos, technical FAQs.
Because they're going to come up.
We have a technical sales team as well,
that goes out and helps
to sell the dev tool sellers,
goes out and tells a message.
These are really important,
especially with dev tool startups.
Don't assume that someone's going to be able
just to open up the account
and then demo your product the best way possible.
You're going to want to really invest some time
in helping others with a package demo.
The other thing I was going to mention was
have a great landing page for customers.
A really good example of that was
So thank you, Edith and Andrew and team,
for putting that together.
Because now we can have a central place
to drive traffic from any announcements
and things like that. And it's a good way to share
the combined story together.
Then, at the same time,
have a great landing page for just the Microsoft team,
or for your partner team.
That is so incredibly important,
because you want to drive traffic to that page
to get the latest set of resources you put
so much work into putting together.
I will tell you that Xamarin had some of the best
Microsoft facing materials.
They knew that we were their way to grow,
and they made it such an awesome experience
for us, to really help them out
with growing their accounts.
Xamarin has a really good one,
and that URL was not ever really public.
It wasn't indexed by search engines,
etc., so it was really targeted just for us,
and at the end of that page,
one of the most important things
that you want to make sure that you have for your partner
is a really strong call to action.
For dev tools startups,
I think the most common call to action
is, "Hey, we can get you a demo account
created, to help you tell our story a lot better."
So be sure to make sure you make that process
really easy as well.
I'm going to talk a little bit about gatekeepers.
Someone earlier told me
it's really hard to figure out how best
to navigate really large organizations like Microsoft.
And so really what you're wanting to find
are the gatekeepers.
You're going to have to think about this
when you're looking at other enterprises,
but I'll tell you a little bit of inside knowledge
about how we're structured at Microsoft,
just so you can understand the different
Certainly we have our engineering group.
Right now, we have three vice presidents
of three different organizations that make up
the developer tools realm.
We also have some others that,
if you're interested in engaging and integrating
with our cloud based services,
we have other areas for that.
From a job title standpoint,
we've got engineers and program managers
Program managers lead a feature team
of about 10 to 15 engineers on a very specific feature area.
If we move over,
corporate marketing is the group of product managers
that are there to help set strategy,
but they're also doing some other things.
For example, how do we position
and message our products?
How do we generate cross-sell?
How do we generate revenue?
What's our strategy behind that?
Sales field readiness,
but also marketing field readiness.
So there's a bit of work done here
at the corporate marketing level,
and that's actually the team I sit in.
I think there's about 15 of us now,
on the dev side.
We've got a lot more now on the mobile side,
and then our team is combined now
with the SQL business as well.
So we have the SQL business under
our same organization now, too.
So that was a great win for us.
But that's the corporate marketing team.
If we think about our field,
this is where it gets really tricky
for a lot of people just getting introduced
I don't even remember how many subsidiaries we have now,
but we have lots of subsidiaries around the world, and each has certain goals and metrics
that we have provided them from the corporate office.
If you think about it,
the U.S. is a subsidiary.
Canada is a subsidiary.
Western Europe, Asia Pacific,
there's lots of subsidiaries.
We have both single country subsidiaries
as well as multi-country subsidiaries.
That is not particularly a detail
you probably want to get into,
but that is where our sales team sits.
So that's the one detail you want to know.
We have both regular dev sales sellers,
those are what we call SSPs,
solution sale providers.
We also have the technical sales team,
those are technical solution providers.
And those are very specialist salespeople.
We also have the broader account teams
that are assigned to all of our accounts. We also have our premier support team,
Microsoft Consulting Services,
cloud solution architects.
We also have our subsidiary marketers.
They're the ones who are actually local
in the market, buying,
doing ad buys, and setting up events locally,
things like that, as well as our developer evangelists.
We have the DX Group,
which is really about there.
Now, I put this up here
because the other important thing
is to understand everyone's goals and incentives,
which can be different across teams, surprisingly.
One of the big ones for our sellers
is making sure they hit their dev tools revenue quota.
But as well, the one goal that is shared
by pretty much everyone at Microsoft,
especially on the sales side,
is Azure consumption.
All roads lead to Azure.
I will say that over and over again.What's super important for our company
is to make sure that we get more and more companies
to adopt Azure, love Azure, and consume more Azure
That's the really important piece of that.
We really see both our dev tools,
but also dev tools startups,
as being a way to help us do that.
That's where a lot of this comes in.
If you're ever interested in
what people are interested in,
that's a really good conversation to have
with anyone you meet within this broader realm of people.
Because those change over time.
And so you'll want to keep up
with what everyone is interested in.
The other thing to think about
is what is the cadence of that partner.
What's the timeline look like for getting
What's the general cadence that they have
with the developer community?
For us, we have two big developer events
We have one in the spring called Build,
and we have another one called Connect.
That's in the fall.
We have two internal sales conferences.
These are conferences where we bring
half the sales team.
One I think is in two weeks,
and the other is in the winter.
We constantly give them new information,
give them better ammo for going out
and being a readied sales field.
We also do biweekly sales team calls.
Those are really great ways
where we introduce new solutions
that help our sellers.
We also have our Microsoft MVP Summit in November,
which we bring all of our Microsoft MVP awardees in
and have just an awesome time
getting wonderful feedback under NDA.
They are super honest with us about everything,
which is great.
We have a great relationship with our MVPs.
We do frequent MVP chats,
so we can always do a pop-up chat
at any time, whenever we find out something new.
We have the Worldwide Partner Conference,
which is going on actually this week.
So if you do become a partner,
we have a conference just for you.
If you do have any questions,
I set up this email distribution list.
So if you're interested in better ways
of working with Microsoft,
feel free to reach out to us here.
We just want to make it super easy
for the dev tools startups
to be able to find the right people.
If we aren't the right people,
we will find the right people for you
and make sure we can start the right conversations for you.
I'm going to end today with just a few takeaways
from the session.
The first one, first decision, is
just to make sure that an enterprise
sales channel partnership is the right thing for you.
It's not the right thing for everyone.
There's a lot of pros and cons to it,
so you'll want to really think through that.
I'm happy to talk to you about that.
The second one is to really understand
the partner's goals and incentives so that you can craft your message to them,
on why a partnership would be great,
by knowing how your product's going to help
sell their product.
Understand the decision makers.
You can waste a lot of time talking to people
who aren't going to get you anywhere.
I think we all know this, right?
Just make sure you know the right decision makers
and what it's going to take for you
to get what you'd like out of it.
Understand what the decision process looks like
internally, and what the timelines look like,
and if you're ever wondering, just ask.
Sometimes it's a little bit
of a nebulous thing for some of these things,
and you'll be working together
with your partner on the other side
to try to figure some of that out.
Understand the seasonality of a partner.
For example, we just started our new fiscal year,
which means new revenue quota,
new budget, new initiatives, new goals and metrics.
And that changes.
For us, that changes,
sometimes every quarter
but usually every half year,
definitely every fiscal year.
So if you're looking to get a channel partnership,
make sure you understand the seasonality
of the partner you're talking to,
including org changes. I added that there too,
because that happens a lot in some organizations like ours.
Understand the many channels
that are available for you.
I listed a couple in this slide deck.
I'm going to make this slide deck available
after the session,
but there may be some that aren't listed
or ones that you should figure out
with your channel partner.
And then also, this is really key
and I think this is key for a lot of content marketing,
but when you build really good assets,
you want to do that to easily amplify and scale your message.
So take some time.
Make some really awesome assets,
and those are going to pay off big time.
My last one that I always love leaving
everyone with is to ask for what you want.
My favorite saying all the time is
you never get what you don't ask for.
So if you want something, just ask for it.
The worst that will happen is they'll say no.
The best thing that'll happen is they'll say yes.
For an example, if you want to be on stage
for one of our events,
ask us to be on stage.
We will tell you no, yes,
or how we get to yes. Just ask for what you'd like.
I'm going to leave that there
and see if we have any questions from the audience.
Channel Partnership Turnaround
That's a good question,
the fastest turnaround for a channel partner.
It might actually have been LauchDarkly.
It might be.
I've done a few, but yes,
usually they're long.
And I'll tell you the reason why it's been long. It
has been, typically, the integration part.
The typical sequence that I've seen is,
"Hey, we'll have an initial conversation,
and one of us will have an idea
of how we could tell our story really well together
and build some good value together."
But then the integration part,
the actual engineering effort that's involved,
can take a bit.
We've done a lot of really good work
to make sure that our platform is
much more easily accessible.
We have some work to still do,
but thankfully, I think that's actually
shortened things down
and has become less of a cost to our team.
So I'd say the Redgate/LaunchDarkly one
was super quick,
from the first conversation in December
to being on stage in March.
That's a pretty quick turnaround
for the bang for the buck that we got out of it.
So super happy about that.
Great question. I have a little bit of experience
with the MVP program.
The Microsoft Most Valuable Professional award
is an award that we make
to influencers in the community.
These are people who are really
tied in to being community contributors. These are people who are answering people's Quora questions,
Stack Overflow questions,
speaking out at events, volunteering their time
to help their community get better.
At the same time,
we look to see their realms of influence
In our particular area,
I think we're renaming them,
but they've always been
the application lifecycle management MVPs.There's an award category for different areas like web dev,
and there's even Xbox MVPs,
which are always like the 12 year olds that come in.
Those were always the cool MVPs
at MVP summit,
because they got whisked away to see all the secret stuff.
In our community,
if we think about lifecycle management and DevOps,
we have a group of core people around
the world just for that.
So it's a yearly award based on community contributions,
and we also look at expertise and stuff.
So they're awesome.
They're a great community of people
who are typically consultants.
They will represent many, many customers,
especially in the DevOps ALM area,
but they're all around the world.
They're super smart people.
They will give you really honest feedback,
and if they think that you're cool,
you're really cool,
and they will share your solution
with just about everyone they talk to.
So really great community to make sure
you get on your side.
Small Companies Helping Channel Partners
One thing that dev tools startups
can do to help us out, one of the things that we've been trying to do, to be quite blunt,
is we've tried to be better to the developer community
and do the right things for the developer community. A lot of dev tools startups
have a really big sway in being able
to help that broader perception change.
I think we're doing a lot of the right things.
I love the people that I work with,
because they are so passionate about doing
the right things,
and making Visual Studio Code
and Visual Studio Community available for free.
Lots of great stuff that we're doing,
but dev tools startups can certainly help
with your sway there, your perception.
But also consider Microsoft.
Consider the developer community there.
A lot of times,
I've noticed that it's kind of a second thought,
but it's certainly a good core group
of developers that can certainly help
to build your business as well.
So just think about them.
Think about the experiences that they have.
Include them as part of your user studies
so that you can make the best product,
not just for certain groups of developer ecosystems,
but as well as the Microsoft developer ecosystems.
Relationship Between Sales Reps and Teams
That's a really good question.
Once we figured out that we have a good story
to tell together,
and the process of getting to "Do we feel like this is a good story
with our sellers?" we will bring early sellers in
to just double check that it's the right thing,
just so that our partners don't go build something
that's not relevant to the broader community.
Once we figure that out,
and once we've
let everything loose,
we say, "Hey, sellers,
we got some really cool stuff to help you
with what you're trying to do this quarter." I think that's the one thing that I get told
to be prepared for, as a dev tools startup,
is once that engine gets going,
you'll have quite a few conversations with them
about certain accounts that they're trying
to close deals on. I think that's a really good thing.
I think a lot of startups start
to get a little scared about this "scale
that" that happens,
so I would say
we totally encourage it.
Really listen to the feedback
that they're getting from their customers directly.
Make sure that you understand their goals.
They're trying to really help the sales,
so if you could have some internal one-to-one conversations
about the dynamic of that customer environment,
and what's going to really make it push over for them,
you're going to really be in there.
They've got go-to partners, let me tell you.
They have partners that they definitely don't talk
so whatever you can do to help them out,
they're going to really help you out as well.