Microsoft Rolls Up Its IoT Red Carpet Partner Program And Offers A Broader Partner Ecosystem

Microsoft has retired its Red Carpet IoT program – an exclusive pilot Microsoft program that selects partners to provide IoT solutions targeted around the company's Azure IoT suite – as the company moves to bring its Internet of Things offerings to a broader base of partners, CRN has learned.

The change comes as the Redmond, Washington, company aims to expand its Azure IoT Suite, which is a cloud services-based approach to the market, from an Incubation partner program to a mainstream program with better and enhanced engines and initiatives, and additional support and resources at a local level.

"Microsoft works closely with its partners as the industry continues to evolve at a rapid pace, and while the name of the Red Carpet program has changed, our commitment to this ecosystem has stayed steadfast," a spokesperson told CRN in an email. "The Red Carpet program is now part of Microsoft’s broader partner ecosystem offerings so that partners can easily access resources for all practice areas – including Azure IoT."

[Related: 6 Ways Microsoft Just Raised The Bar In Its Azure IoT Suite]

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The Red Carpet program was intended to be a pilot project, and partners in the program were individually selected by Microsoft and invited to join the program based on their expertise and proven success in implementing IoT solutions. Partners who joined were listed in Microsoft’s IoT Partner Directory, and gained access to exclusive resources including engineering, marketing, and sales support.

Microsoft’s Azure IoT Suite, introduced in 2015, combines the best of Azure’s capabilities in a set of features specifically tailored to power the Internet of Things. The company said its Azure IoT Suite excels in data collection, reporting, monitoring and analysis.

"Microsoft is proving to be a leader in the Internet of Things space," said Tony Safoian, president and CEO of Los Angeles-based SADA Systems, a Microsoft partner that is part of the company's Red Carpet program. "Microsoft's doing the heavy lifting with partners; they're building these frameworks that are plug-and-play. IoT is creating a great market opportunity for the platform players and for companies like us who have to tie [IoT solutions] together."

Safoian stressed that channel partners are essential for bringing IoT solutions to market, particularly through providing business value, like data analytics and other services, to solutions.

"At the end of the day, Microsoft builds stuff," he said. "What they don't do is build a business application … This is where the channel comes in. It's our job to understand and derive those use cases and the tools. This is really where partners come in, work with the business, and understand their needs versus just the technical solutions."

Microsoft has been doubling down on its IoT efforts, this past week unveiling a new Azure IoT certified device catalog to help partners work with customers to navigate through the 175 devices from the Azure Certified IoT program. The catalog helps partners select the best devices for their solution, as well as understand how devices connect to the internet, which sensors they work with, and the industry protocols they are capable of processing.

The company also introduced the Security Program for Azure IoT, which provides third-party auditors who can come on-site to perform security audits from the ground up and examine business devices and assets to gateways, as well as communication to the cloud.