The VAR Guy has awoken from a deep one-week sleep -- otherwise known as a vacation. Our resident blogger will arrive at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC10) in less than 24 hours. But before The VAR Guy covers all-things Microsoft, here are six channel partner blog entries he didn't have time to write during the week of July 9, 2010.

7. Channel Chief Coming Soon: Keep an eye on Intronis, the online backup specialist. The VAR Guy hears CEO Sam Gutmann has been interviewing Channel Chief candidates. Sorry, there's no plans for an ESPN special to announce The Decision. But it sounds like Intronis will potentially announce a new partner program leader within the next few days.

6. Small Business Server Meets the Cloud: Will Microsoft Small Business Server remain popular as more and more small businesses test/embrace cloud applications? Hmmmm... Perhaps the Intel Hybrid Cloud -- which supports SBS -- could give Microsoft's SMB cloud strategy a lift...

5. Speaking of Small Business and the Cloud: Microsoft has formed a Small, Medium Business and Distribution organization, a new team with a dedicated focus on sales and marketing efforts for small and medium sized business, according to a company spokesperson. Cindy Bates, VP of US Small, Medium Business and Distribution, will lead the team.

Also, the US Partner Sales and Programs Group (US PS&P) is"dedicated to Microsoft’s broad channel ecosystem in the US and will continue to drive the evolution of the Microsoft Partner Network, as well as drive revenue through our nationally managed partners. Led by Jenni Flinders, vice president of US Partner Sales and Programs Group, US PS&P will help the channel evolve to ensure our customers reap the benefits of the new opportunities presented by the cloud and other emerging technologies," according to a Microsoft spokesperson.

4. Specialize (Even More): The Oracle PartnerNetwork (OPN) Specialized channel team apparently is developing 18 new partner certification exams. The VAR Guy hears you can find some quick details over here.

3. Hosting VARs? When the HostingCon conference starts (July 19, Austin, Texas), big hosting providers like The Planet and Rackspace will be pitching their strategies to VARs and MSPs. But will VARs and MSPs embrace the messages? The VAR Guy will be on-site to interpret all the chatter.

2. Another Showdown: Google and Microsoft are among the top sponsors for OSCON 2010 (July 19-23, Portland, Ore.). The VAR Guy expects quite a few Google Android surprises at the open source conference. Our resident blogger wonders: Will Microsoft be prepared to return fire?

1. Check the Headline: The VAR Guy still doesn't play by the rules. This is a top-six list, so there is no Number One. Never has been... never will be.

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