As Microsoft partners go, they don't get much bigger and more influential than Dimension Data, the $6 billion multinational system integrator that has been working with Microsoft for the past 15 years.
So when one of Dimension Data's top Microsoft practice directors says he's concerned about a series of recent Microsoft channel program cutbacks, it puts the magnitude of the changes into perspective.
In an interview on Wednesday, Phil Aldrich, director of Microsoft Solutions at Dimension Data Americas, said Office 365 incentive changes going into effect later this month, which stand to negatively impact partner profitability, are just one of several recent moves that have him questioning Microsoft's commitment to the channel.
"The reality is that Microsoft is reducing fees in number of areas, not just Office 365, but also the SIP [Solutions Incentive] program and business incentive funding for a number of product groups," Aldrich told CRN. "In my opinion, they are reducing and changing focus, and I think it will consolidate the partner community. There will be less people willing to do Microsoft work."
Starting Jan. 25, some partners that sell Office 365 and other cloud services in Microsoft's Advisor Enterprise Agreement Deploy program will see their incentive payments drop as much as 40 to 50 percent.
While Microsoft gave 30-days' notice of the Office 365 incentive changes in documents posted to its partner portal in mid-December, partners told CRN last week they hadn't heard anything from the Worldwide Partner Group.
Aldrich also thinks Microsoft dropped the ball in shutting down its Solutions Incentive Program (SIP).
"These programs are critical to having a channel. When those funding mechanisms disappear, it's a clear indication the vendor is trying to back away from the channel," Aldrich said. "Microsoft's whole incentive program is a mess right now and it's the opposite of everything the rest of the industry is doing."
Microsoft couldn't be reached for comment for this story. But Microsoft has previously said it invests $2 billion annually in channel incentives, and that cloud incentives will double year-over-year in terms of dollars and as a percentage of the overall incentives mix in fiscal 2014.
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