Microsoft as a partner

Microsoft has a very robust partner ecosystem, and they seem to understand the inherent value in that channel (or series of channels, if you want to break it out by Service Provider, ISV, VAR, SI, etc.)  They do massive events for us (Worldwide Partner Conference – http://digitalwpc.com/ ) as well as smaller events (Hosting Summit – https://www.microsofthostingsummit.com/main.aspx.)  I have even been invited to be on their Service Provider Partner Advisory Council, which is  great concept, where they get 20 or so partners together of each type, and both talk to and listen to those partners and their needs, concerns, etc.  It's not a perfect relationship, but Microsoft does try.  Sometimes the answers we get are "deal with it – learn to adapt, or fail" but most of the time they're willing to walk with you through the "learn to adapt" stuff.

Personally, I have  go-to-market person and an account manager that I work with directly.  I also work with a number of other folks pretty frequently, both on a technical and business side.  I've gotten the chance to speak to pretty sizable audiences both at the Worldwide Partner Conference (http://digitalwpc.com/Videos/SessionVideos/Permalink/87847861-e3bc-481f-a10c-3b66cc82b7ba ) as well as Microsoft's MGX (Microsoft Global eXchange – theMicrosoft Sales & Services annual event.)

http://www.microsoft.com/casestudies/Microsoft-Exchange-Server/cbeyond/Hosted-Messaging-and-Collaboration-Helps-Microsoft-Partner-to-Differentiate-Services/4000006510

is a relatively lengthy case study I did with Microsoft a while back around Cbeyond's Hosted Microsoft Exchange offering.  

I wonder what it's like trying to work with Google or Apple as a partner.  Anyone have any experience they can compare and contrast?

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