Microsoft Updates Solutions Partner Designations With Industry AI Paths

‘We have seen tremendous progress as partners seize the moment and turn the promise of AI into a reality around the world,’ says Microsoft Chief Partner Officer Nicole Dezen.

Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider partners’ ability to sell Copilot for Security. General availability of Solutions Partner with certified software designations. And new pathways for Azure and security solution providers working with small and midsize businesses.

These are some of the biggest announcements and updates to Microsoft’s partner program unveiled Wednesday by the tech giant as part of its annual State of the Partner Ecosystem.

“We have seen tremendous progress as partners seize the moment and turn the promise of AI into a reality around the world,” Nicole Dezen, chief partner officer and corporate vice president of Global Partner Solutions, said in the blog post. “Today, we have moved from talking about AI to applying AI at scale in ways no one could have imagined just a few months ago.”

[RELATED: Microsoft Copilot For Security To Be Generally Available In April]

Microsoft AI Cloud Partner Program Updates

Solution providers with various vendor partnerships have told CRN about consulting and professional services engagements related to readying customers for generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) and work on AI piloting and development.

On Wednesday, Microsoft shared data that illustrates the AI fervor within its partner ecosystem.

That data includes:

Solutions Partner Designations Update

The Solutions Partner with certified software designations is meant to help solution providers further differentiate themselves, increase discoverability in the Microsoft Commercial Marketplace, connect with more customers, and take advantage of marketing and branding resources, according to Microsoft.

Solution providers can gain these designations based on solution areas and industry AI. Under the solution areas pathway, the solution provider must meet readiness and technical requirements and show a track record of customer success, according to Microsoft.

Solution area designations include:

The industry AI pathway includes the previous requirements and adds an industry-specific challenge solution providers must face. The challenges are aligned with the Microsoft Industry Cloud scenarios and include a Microsoft AI capability, according to Microsoft.

Available industry AI certified software designations include:

More than 75 partners worldwide with offers across all five industries have participated in the public preview of the designation, according to Microsoft. The vendor has certified 49 offerings and has 27 more in progress.

Microsoft also reiterated that solution providers can purchase Partner Launch Benefits, Partner Success Core Benefits and Partner Success Expanded Benefits while pursuing Solutions Partner designations and specializations. Solution providers with software intellectual property can also use the ISV Success collection of resources aimed at software development and sales amplification.

Azure, Security Partner SMB Paths

Microsoft plans to invest further into its SMB partners, according to the vendor.

Later this year, Microsoft will roll out SMB paths for solution providers with Azure and security designations. SMB paths for business applications and modern work designated partners are already available.

These designations give solution providers products, go-to-market resources, support and other benefits, according to Microsoft.

Training, Support Partners News

On April 10, Microsoft solution providers seeking a Solutions Partner for Training Services designation can complete their enrollment and receive designation-specific badges.

Meanwhile, Solutions Partner for Support Services-designated Microsoft solution providers can expect paid support agreement pricing, access to a knowledge-based library of curated materials designed to help partners resolve incidents quickly and efficiently, and customer-facing badging as part of a series of exclusive new benefits, according to the vendor.

Microsoft said a general availability date for those benefits will come later this year.

Microsoft Copilot For Security

Microsoft confirmed that when its Copilot for Security GenAI tool becomes generally available on April 1, it will be available for transaction through all commerce channels including Cloud Solution Provider, used by some solution providers to transact with customers.

This approach differs from Microsoft’s release strategy for Copilot for Microsoft 365, which became available for enterprise customers on Nov. 1 for $30 per user, per month but didn’t become available across all sales channels until Jan. 16.

Also unlike Copilot for Microsoft 365, Copilot for Security will be billed monthly through a Security Compute Unit at the rate of $4 an hour.

Microsoft Partner Skilling Events

The tech giant laid out future skilling events, bootcamps and workshops for solution providers and other partner business types.

The events include: