A renamed Microsoft partner program and changes to the tiers partners can achieve come in response to customer buying habits and Microsoft efforts to drive more partner success, two Microsoft channel executives said Wednesday during a virtual event.
Rodney Clark, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of global channel sales and channel chief, said that the changes to Microsoft Partner Network – now dubbed the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program – seek to help members of Microsoft’s 400,000 partner ecosystem make changes seen in the fastest growing partners.
Those changes include becoming more digital, leveraging marketplaces, co-selling with Microsoft and engaging with peers.
“The Microsoft Cloud Partner Program is an evolution of our Microsoft Partner Network and focuses on driving Microsoft Cloud value through each and every partner in our ecosystem,” Clark said. “The Microsoft Cloud (Partner) Program is for all partners in our ecosystem, whether they build and sell services, software solutions or whether or not they're focused on devices.”
Nick Parker, Microsoft corporate vice president of global partner solutions, said that Microsoft has seen $28 billion in annual contracted partner co-sell value since the 2018 fiscal year, with 37 percent co-sell revenue growth.
“Our business models are the broadest for all partner business types,” Parker said. “From a partner that’s a commercial developer or ISV (independent software vendor), an IoT (internet of things) solutions provider, a system integrator, or an advisory partner – a reseller, to an OEM building devices – we provide end to end edge to cloud technology, which means endless, unique and tailored ways for partners to be profitable and successful through our channel inclusion efforts.”
He continued: “Partners make more possible. And with the technology innovation, go-to-market scale and tools for differentiation that we provide, Microsoft is the platform for growth with opportunities of bringing the edge to the cloud and delivering innovation with our partners to help customers migrate to the cloud.”
The Microsoft Cloud Partner Program changes start Oct. 3, giving partners less than seven months to make sure they qualify for the correct designations, according to the company.
Microsoft will get rid of the Gold and Silver statuses partners currently use. Instead, partners will start at a base membership and qualify as “solutions providers” if they score 70 or more points according to a partner capabilities score (PCS), also rolled out as part of the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program changes.
Partners can also qualify as “specialized” or “expert” in particular capabilities, according to Microsoft.
The Microsoft Cloud Partner Program changes come as partners continue to grapple with changes Microsoft previously announced under the New Commerce Experience (NCE) banner.
Changes under NCE include a new premium on month-to-month commitments for popular Microsoft packages – including Microsoft 365 (M365), which comprises Word, Excel, Teams, SharePoint and other applications. That monthly premium is on top of an overall price increase Microsoft announced for M365 and other popular packages.
Partners have also criticized a 72-hour window Microsoft gives for changing subscription terms before a partner and customer are locked into the terms. The 72 hours also includes weekends and holidays. It also prevents customers from changing service providers and prevents providers from changing distributors or indirect sellers – companies that include Pax8, TD Synnex and Ingram Micro, according to Microsoft.
Bobby Guerra, CEO of Jacksonville, Fla.-based Microsoft partner Axiom – a critic of parts of the New Commerce Experience who even started a petition calling for Microsoft to revoke the 20 percent premium on monthly – said that the new program changes coming as partners continue to adopt changes under NCE comes off as tone deaf.
“It seems irresponsible,” he said.
Here are some of the biggest statements Clark had to say about the changes to Microsoft’s partner program.