Plans by Microsoft to double the number of qualified NT systems engineers in the UK before the end of the year have been dismissed as unrealistic by an independent group of analysts.
A recent report by Butler Group, which supplies information to corporate IT users, also casts fresh doubts upon Microsoft's schedule for launching NT5 and questions the viability of NT as an enterprise-level operating system.
But the findings are good news for the Microsoft channel. The report predicts that 'a certain skills shortage' means corporate customers will be queuing up for resources and paying premium prices for the service of experienced NT Vars.
David Burrows, head of Microsoft's newly merged skills and services division, said he wants at least 28,000 Microsoft Certified Professionals (MCPs) fully trained by Christmas to assist the deployment of NT5 and provide outsourcing options for NT resellers. There are presently about 15,000 MCPs in the UK.
But Gary Cooper, senior research analyst at Butler Group, said: 'It's an unrealistic timescale. But then it wouldn't be the first time Microsoft has set itself an unrealistic target for completing a project. This will definitely be an area where resellers can take advantage.'
He added: 'NT4 would not scale up to take in an enterprise number of users and there is nothing to say that NT5 will be able to. It's not being tested in an enterprise environment. In fact, no one has successfully tested it on a large scale.'
One Microsoft Lar, which has tested beta versions of the OS, said: 'I'd agree that NT4 is not a true enterprise solution and we still don't really know the full content of NT5.'
He added: 'We have more than enough skilled staff to deal with a large-scale roll out.'
Burrows said: 'We know this is a tough schedule, but we need to increase the level of competence both in the channel and among our customers.'
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