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Microsoft Promises Marketplace Multi-Party Partner Private Offers Next Year

Wade Tyler Millward

‘Functions like what we call multi-party private offers – that we will be bringing to market early next year – make marketplace relevant for the services partners,’ Jake Swenson, Microsoft’s vice president of commercial marketplace, tells CRN in an interview.

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Microsoft is investing in its online marketplace as a potential way for software and service partners to thrive in a worsening economy in the U.S., expanding access to its ISV Success program and promising the ability for multi-party partner private offers.

ISV Success – a program to help independent software vendors get more out of the Microsoft partner program – has entered public preview, Jake Swenson, Microsoft’s vice president of commercial marketplace, told CRN in an interview.

And multi-party private offers – which give service partners the ability to create personalized offers with customized payouts sold to customers through Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft’s marketplace (see screenshot) – should roll out “early next year,” Swenson said.

“Functions like what we call multi-party private offers – that we will be bringing to market early next year – make the marketplace relevant for the services partners,” he said. “Now your SIs [system integrators] or your resellers or your distis [distributors] have an opportunity to say, ‘Look I‘ve got an ISV offer. I have a Microsoft customer. I have my services or my value-add to the equation that can be packaged and transacted in this way that’s convenient for the customer and that has positive economic terms for everybody involved.’”

[RELATED: Partners Weigh Investments In Online Vendor Marketplaces] 

What is Microsoft marketplace?

Some services partners are starting to test out the opportunity from online marketplaces, which have been receiving major investments from vendors including Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud and Cisco, and distributors such as Ingram Micro and Pax8.

But the option for services partners to make listings on online marketplaces isn’t a ubiquitous practice just yet. And for some partners who are participating in marketplaces, the revenue made from marketplaces isn’t exactly replacing more traditional practices for finding leads and closing deals.

“For certain partners, there’s definitely a good opportunity to get exposure that they might not get otherwise and to reach an audience that they might not reach otherwise,” Gabriel Romero, chief marketing officer and head of alliances for Denver-based AllCloud, an Amazon Web Services and Salesforce partner, recently told CRN. “For us, we’re still in the early days of putting our solutions out on marketplaces. We’re figuring out the best way to engage with customers on marketplaces to make sure that we’re giving them something that they can easily find and that they can easily use.”

Mark Wyllie, CEO of Boca Raton, Fla.-based IBM partner Flagship Solutions Group, told CRN in a recent interview that he plans to add to his company’s marketing spend on marketplaces next year.

“Marketplaces, we really haven’t done much in that area,” he said. “They’re going to be a factor, but they’re still not a significant factor. … If I started seeing an uptick in customers really buying through a marketplace (I would invest more). I just haven’t seen that.”

Can Marketplaces Help In A Bad Economy? 

One of the benefits of Microsoft’s marketplace, Swenson said, is that larger enterprises make annual consumption commitments against their cloud spend for better cost prediction and control – something partners can use to their advantage.

“The marketplace uniquely enables them to apply those commitments to both Microsoft and third-party applications,” he said. “And Amazon does this, too. But that dynamic could very well be the thing that accelerates marketwide adoption through economic times like these.”

A Microsoft blog post Tuesday said that over the past year, Microsoft’s marketplace has seen almost four times the growth in SaaS-billed sales, almost five times the customers with consumption commitments buying through marketplaces and three times the private offers sold by members of Microsoft’s Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program.

The vendor has also seen almost three times the enterprise sales through the marketplace, which “will continue to grow with our commitment to partner success,” according to the blog post, authored by Charlotte Yarkoni, Microsoft president of commerce and ecosystems.

“Microsoft is unique in that we offer every dollar of cloud spend to count toward a customer’s cloud consumption commitment when they buy an eligible solution,” she said. “This, paired with our enhancements to private offers and multi-year SaaS functionality, is cutting through procurement red tape and closing seven- and eight-digit deals regularly through the marketplace.”

Microsoft made a margin-sharing capability generally available in its marketplace earlier this year.

As for the multi-party partner private offers feature – which will enter private preview “soon,” Yarkoni said – “this additional functionality will empower any set of partners to come together, create personalized offers with customized payouts, sell directly to Microsoft customers through [the] marketplace and have the sale count toward the customers’ cloud consumption commitment,” according to the blog post.

“This will pioneer new opportunities for every partner and we look forward to sharing more details in the coming months,” it said.

For ISVs and software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers, Microsoft’s ISV Success program now incorporates ISV-focused marketplace rewards such as better listings, marketing support and cloud credits based on sales.

Microsoft has also announced upcoming expanded benefits for ISV Success program participants.

“For solutions with a high volume of projected Azure consumption, participants can qualify for additional cloud credits and up to 50 hours of one-to-one consultations,” Anthony Joseph, Microsoft vice president of marketplace and ISV journey, said in a blog post. “Holistically, the ISV Success program has a retail value of $126,000 USD for the core offering and $146,000 USD for the expanded. The expanded offering will be entering private preview soon.”

As part of the expanded benefits, Azure cloud credits will go from being worth $5,000 to $25,000. About 2,000 ISVs joined the ISV Success program during its preview phase, Joseph said.

When asked about more integration between the Microsoft marketplace and partner portal and using data from the marketplace to better align Microsoft sellers and services-led partners, Swenson said some of that functionality is possible in the future.

“The marketplace will eventually enable a much richer, peer-to-peer type of conversation through the customer-decision journey in this digital space,” he said. “None of us are quite there yet. … My aspiration and my belief is that [the] marketplace as a community is really what the interesting use case looks like for that in the long run.”

Microsoft’s marketplace also holds potential for companies furthering diversity and sustainability initiatives, Swenson said. Partners on the marketplace can mark themselves as owned by underrepresented members of the technology community, for example.

“We’ve got programs that we were working on to help partners who are owned by underrepresented members of the tech community to be able to self-attest and to show and demonstrate that this is a diverse partner in the marketplace,” he said.

Wade Tyler Millward

Wade Tyler Millward is an associate editor covering cloud computing and the channel partner programs of Microsoft, IBM, Red Hat, Oracle, Salesforce, Citrix and other cloud vendors. He can be reached at wmillward@thechannelcompany.com.

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