About 18 months ago, when Apple began recruiting Windows-trained experts for its Mobility Technical Competency, many Microsoft partners jumped at the chance to get certified to deliver integration services for iPhones and iPads. They were especially intrigued by Apple's hiring of Francois Daumard, a well-respected 12-year Microsoft channel veteran, and expected it to result in better channel relations.
While the MTC program is working as advertised, generating a steady stream of business for partners who've obtained it, Microsoft partners that were expecting Apple to adopt a Microsoft-like approach to channel relations are feeling disillusioned. They're annoyed with Apple's strict code of silence with MTC, its threats to revoke the credentials of members who talk about the program publicly, and the fact that Apple's channel team isn't permitted to appear at industry events.
"The Apple MTC is a program that has yet to come to full force," one source familiar with the situation told CRN. "Apple has a history of being a little inconsistent with partners, so there is some doubt as to their long-term commitment to the channel."
Apple did not respond to a request for comment on the status of MTC or the concerns raised by partners in this story.
Apple created the MTC, part of the Apple Consultants Network, as part of its broader campaign to grab more share in the enterprise than it was getting organically through the bring-your-own-device craze. Apple didn't have the in-house network infrastructure expertise to handle integrations of iPads and iPhones on Windows-based networks, and it needed to formalize things like security and management.
Apple currently has between 1,500 and 1,700 MTC-certified partners and is no longer aggressively recruiting, sources told CRN. Apple had intended to sign up 1,000 Microsoft partners by the end of 2012; it's not clear if it reached this goal, but sources told CRN strong interest in the program suggests this wasn't a difficult bar.
To be eligible for MTC, a company must have both a Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) with Enterprise Administrator on Windows Server 2008 and a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) for Exchange Server 2010.
Another option is to have a Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) in both security and wireless, or a single staff member with CompTIA Network+ certification.
NEXT: Partners Have Faith Apple Will Get ChannelMicrosoft partners aren't the only ones eager to get a piece of the action. Mobility is expected to become a bigger part of the MSP business model in the future. One example is Level Platforms, Ottawa, Ontario, which has put several of its own partners through the MTC program.
Dave Sobel, director of partner community at Level Platforms, describes the MTC program as "unique and targeted," with standard elements, like sales enablement, and less standard ones, like role playing.
"Apple said it would build a targeted and engaged group of partners that would augment and be the services arm for its mobile business. In my mind, that is what it has done," Sobel said. "Our partners that have gone through the program have been very successful."
MTC partners told CRN they're still bullish about the long-term prospects of working with Apple. The company has introduced an affiliate program for members of the Apple Consultants Network, who can steer customers to the Apple Store and receive commissions of 2 percent to 3 percent. Though paltry, the fact that Apple is giving any sort of commission is noteworthy, sources told CRN.
Given the misconceptions about mobility that persist in the marketplace, and the notion of it being a consumer driven business, MTC partners believe they are well positioned in terms of services opportunities. They're hopeful that Apple will eventually start realizing that role of MTC partners is an important one.
"We are creating a new service space here, and that takes time and a lot of education," one MTC partner told CRN. "Until we can make clear that security matters even more with mobile devices, and that there is a right and wrong way to manage mobile devices on a company network, it will be a slow growth."
PUBLISHED JAN. 18, 2013