Recently, Channel 9 host, Charles Torre, had an opportunity to talk with Mark Scott, CTO of SQLSoft+, a Microsoft partner that focuses on training of Microsoft technologies. SQLSoft+ has the challenging task of building its training programs and services often before the Microsoft products are officially released. How do they do it? Here are a few highlights from the interview.
Charles Torre: Usually who we interview on this show are what we call ISVs or Independent Software Vendors who are also partners, but they produce products. They implement on top of our platform, they extend it. It’s really interesting, you actually educate people on how to do said things, and you’re actually doing this at the MPSC, which is the Microsoft Partner Solutions Center.
Mark Scott: Correct, so we do it both there and in our own classrooms and frankly all over the world. We really position ourselves to be working with early adopters, with ISVs, with other folks who are trying to utilize Microsoft and other technologies, and really try and get the word out there as early as we can. As Microsoft drops this technology into the water, and it starts a ripple effect, we try and be as close to the middle of that as we possibly can, and really help Microsoft get the word out there to the developers and ISVs, to systems integrators, to partners and what have you. So, as a training company, you’re always sowing the seeds of your own demise. We need Microsoft in Redmond and other software companies to keep providing product for us to train on, as technology moves forward, that we’re continually pushing ourselves at the front edge to try and bring that to the people who are looking for it, which typically are large corporate customers and really people who see technology as an advantage for them in their business. So it’s exciting because we’re always in front of the latest and greatest. I picked up a copy of Directions on Microsoft in the lobby. I saw several articles about things we’re working with right now. We’re actually on a global training gig right now for Forefront and some of the Microsoft the Desktop Optimization Pack. We’re actually delivering that training all over the country and the world.
Charles Torre: Excellent. So it’s interesting, you are named SQLSoft+, which is simply one of our products. A big one though it is, it’s just one.
Mark Scott: Yep.
Charles Torre: But, what’s your spectrum?
Mark Scott: SQLSoft+ started out as a development company in ’88. We were building software tools for VB 1.0 and SqlServer on OS 2.0
Charles Torre: Wow!
Mark Scott: So, we actually started out as a tools company, and then found out that it takes much more money than we had to really be a tools company. That was about the time that Back Office came out and so we actually got on the bandwagon and rode/saw NT come out. We did all the training on that, then mail which turned into Exchange, and SqlServer through the various versions.
So we really focused up until about ‘95/’96 on just this huge outgrowth of products from Microsoft. What they built out, the whole Back Office. We were training HP, Compaq and all these guys on NT. We did their early training and so forth. So it was really pretty much focused on Back Office products initially.
The last thing I trained on was Windows ’95, and then I found my way into doing other things. But anyway, that’s really where we started and now we’ve extended to more business process types of classes. What we’re finding is that as Microsoft is going from a horizontal platform applications company into standing up vertical applications, that the need for training changes. You’re training now on the dynamics products and these types of things which tend to be a much different audience than the typical infrastructure guy or database, DBA kind of person who is taking the SqlServer classes and so forth. Those people still exist; they still need the training, as they cycle through their careers. We see people every 2-3 years; we see typical IT pros that need to recycle their skills about every 2-3 years. But as far as our offerings goes, it’s gone beyond Microsoft, into typically products like I saw that Danny Kim at Full Armor presented when you met with him.
Charles Torre: Yeah.
Mark Scott: We actually have developed a course together with him around Full Armor, around some of the Active Directory objects and that kind of thing. So, we’ve done that with several products as they come out. We’re pretty opportunistic. We’re a small company. We’re just 30 people. We have a consulting arm, we add that and we’ve got 50.