Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Important updates to the Microsoft Partner Program


By 

Microsoft recently announced that it would reschedule the planned changes to its Microsoft Partner Network program, which were revealed at this year’s Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC). According to Julie Bennani, General Manager, Microsoft Partner Network, the reason for the delay is to give partners more time to prepare for the changes.

What’s changing and when?

The announced changes were divided into two program releases, with one happening in February 2014, while the other one in late Q3 of 2014. How that impacts you depends on your level of partnership and business model.

Changes in February 2014


  • New MAPs launch: A new universal version of Microsoft Action Pack subscriptions, leading with cloud, will be available.
  • Offer Cloud IUR: Cloud internal use software rights (IURs) will be offered as a part of our core IUR benefits to both MAPS and Competency partners.
  • Retire Cloud Essentials: As planned, the Cloud Essentials program will be retired as of June 30, 2014. Partners, who wish to continue to receive cloud benefits, should look to enrol in the Microsoft Action Pack subscription or a competency.

Competency-specific changes:

  • New Intelligent Systems Competency: A new Intelligent Systems competency, building on the momentum related to the “Internet of Things” will launch.
  • Digital Advertising: The Digital Marketing competency will be renamed the Digital Advertising competency to better reflect the opportunity and partners this is designed for. This includes some minor changes to requirements.
  • Requirement Updates: Standard updates to requirements (i.e.: exams, assessments and application tests) to reflect the latest products in market.


Coming late Q3 of 2014


  • Remaining Incubation cloud programs will be retiring: Cloud Accelerate, Cloud Deployment and Azure Circle programs will phase out at this time. Microsoft will allow new partners to join these programs until this time to enable them to continue earning cloud accelerator incentives. Bear in mind that new partners, aiming to get Cloud IUR after the February release, will need to earn these rights via MAPs or by earning a competency.  
  • Infrastructure competencies mergingThe existing Server Platform, Management & Virtualization and Identity & Access competencies will merge to become the new “Datacenter” competency as announced at WPC in July. This change is designed to help partners deliver on the Microsoft Cloud OS strategy.  Microsoft will offer new training content to prepare for this in February, giving partners more time to prepare. 
  • Business Intelligence becomes Data AnalyticsThe Business Intelligence competency will change to Data Analytics, signalling the increased emphasis on Big Data scenarios. This is not just a name change as Microsoft will introduce new requirements as well. Training material will be made available during the first half of 2014.
  • Hosting competency retiring, hosting tracks launching: Per hosting partner feedback, the current hosting competency does not effectively support their needs. In response, Microsoft will offer unique hosting tracks within the following core competencies - Datacenter, Messaging, Communications and Data Analytics. This enables Microsoft to recognise hosts more precisely for the solution/service offered - what matters most to customers - while introducing requirements and benefits that are more relevant and tailored – what matters most to these partners.
  • Mobility competency retiring: With nearly all devices becoming “mobile” and with the rapid shift to smartphone, Microsoft will retire the Mobility competency and transition current partners into the Application Development or the Devices and Deployment competency appropriately.

If you have any questions about these updates, feel free to give our Microsoft experts a call at 
0207 907 1120 or email Marion Hodges at mh@firebrandtraining.co.uk

About the Author:       
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry.