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By Tom Spring and Steven Burke, CRN Aug. 29, 2013

Microsoft Thursday announced a shakeup in its channel organization, replacing Worldwide Channel Chief Jon Roskill with 17-year Microsoft veteran Phil Sorgen, who had been overseeing the software giant’s U.S. Small and Midmarket Solutions and Partners Group.

Sorgen will start his job as corporate vice president of the company’s worldwide partner group on Sept. 1.

Sorgen said in a blog post that his goal is to ensure that Microsoft’s future as a “devices and services” company is “enabled in concert with the channel. I am committed to that goal.”

“Our partner ecosystem is one of our greatest differentiators in the market, and I could not be more excited about the role of the WPG [Worldwide Partner Group] organization in helping foster the development and growth of this ecosystem,” said Sorgen. “It’s really simple: We cannot fulfill our vision of being a devices and services company without the help of our broad partner base.

“At WPC, we demonstrated that partners that sell cloud solutions stand to earn more top-line revenue and more long-term profits,” said Sorgen. “It’s fundamental to how modern businesses are going to market, and it’s fundamental to Microsoft’s own transformation. Expect to see more from us in this area. I’m a big believer in the solutions that we can jointly deliver with our partners in the cloud.”

[highlight type=”one”]Bob Venero, CEO of Future Tech, a Holbrook, N.Y., an HP partner and No. 268 on CRN’s Solution Provider 500 list, said he sees the shakeup as a sign that Microsoft is “turning toward re-engaging and supporting the true partner community of value once again versus girth.”[/highlight]

[highlight type=”one”]Venero said he has repeatedly tried to engage with Microsoft executives, including Roskill, but has failed to get traction until he met with Eric Martorano, senior director of Microsoft’s U.S. Small Medium Business (SMB) Channel Group, at the recent CRN parent company UBM’s XChange conference. “It’s difficult for me to comment on his [Roskill’s] track record given that we had zero interaction with him,” said Venero. “It’s time for some new blood that understands Microsoft’s roots [as a channel company].”[/highlight]

Roskill’s three-year tenure as channel chief is one of the shortest in Microsoft’s long and storied channel history. Allison Watson, the channel chief for Microsoft before Roskill took the job, held that post nearly a decade, as did Sam Jadallah who came before her.

“My message to Phil is to translate this talk of channel commitment into channel action,” said David Powell, vice president of TekLinks, a $100 million solution provider based in Birmingham, Ala.

“Microsoft says it is partner friendly and it is all about the channel,” Powell said.