In a recent announcement, Microsoft touted the success of its Infrastructure Assessment Framework (IAF), signaling the beginning of Microsoft's focus on the small-to-midsized business (SMB) market. This focus will culminate in 2008 with Microsoft's launch of its new midmarket server, code-named Centro. According to internal Microsoft surveys, IAF's free tools, best practices, and guidance can help solution providers boost their deal-close rates to between 70 and 90 percent.

Microsoft launched the first version of IAF in July 2006 and launched Phase II of IAF in December 2006. Phase II includes 12 new tools and an updated tools matrix. In January, Microsoft introduced the Business and Technology Assessment Toolkit, which is part of IAF, and an expanded version of the Small Business Technology Assessment Toolkit. This step-by-step guide can help users evaluate the business and technical needs of SMB prospects.

Microsoft's IAF announcement emphasized that the SMB market segment represents "a startling level of opportunity" and quoted Janet Waxman of IDC, who said, "During the five-year period from 2005 to 2009, over 600,000 servers will be installed in businesses with fewer than 100 employees in the United States alone. Globally, well over 1 million installations are expected. The market opportunity represents more than ample opportunity for \[Microsoft\] partners." For more information about IAF, see the following URL:

   http://www.assessmentframework.com/What-Is-IAF/Pages/Default.aspx#