Redmond pushes cloud, touch programs, and competencies for the year ahead.
By Colleen Frye
July 12, 2013
Cloud and touch were key themes at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC), reflected not only in new programs but in changes to the Microsoft Partner Network.
As part of the new Cloud OS Accelerate program, Microsoft and key partners—Cisco, NetApp, Hitachi Data Systems, HP, and Dell—will invest more than $100 million to help offset the costs of deploying new private and hybrid cloud solutions and accelerate deals.
For example, Hitachi Data Systems, in a separate announcement, says it is offering substantial incentives for customers who deploy new Hitachi Unified Compute Platform (UCP) Select for Microsoft Private Cloud. This new program runs from Jul.1, 2013 to Jul. 1, 2014, and aligns with Microsoft’s Cloud OS Accelerate program.
For its part, NetApp announced that it is investing up to $15 million in new ecosystem sales collaboration and continued technology integration with Microsoft to accelerate the adoption of enterprise cloud deployments. The NetApp Partner Program complements existing offerings in the Microsoft Cloud OS Accelerate program, according to the company.
Microsoft also announced a new Windows Intune offer, effective Sept. 1, that will help connect partners and customers with the latest in cloud connected management at a 30 percent discount.
A key change to the Microsoft Partner Network is that cloud programs will be fully integrated into the Microsoft Partner Network competencies and the Microsoft Action Pack Subscription (MAPS) starting Jan. 2014. For example, select competencies and MAPS will offer cloud benefits. These include: online service adviser incentives and sales accelerators, differentiated cloud support and cloud internal use rights for Office 365, Windows Intune, CRM Online, and Windows Azure. Further, Microsoft said it will be investing heavily to improve cloud partner support, tools, and marketing assets.
The Microsoft Partner Network Disclosure of Upcoming Program Changes guide outlines what the cloud integration means to partners:
- Microsoft will be introducing a new cloud track into applicable competencies and allowing partners to qualify into the competencies with a combination of proven cloud performance, customer references, and online assessments.
- Partners who qualify through the standard track will be provided incremental cloud training and an online assessment to qualify for relevant competencies.
- On June 30, 2014, Microsoft will retire the cloud programs. Cloud Essentials, Cloud Accelerate, Cloud Deployment, and Windows Azure Circle partners will be encouraged to qualify for a Microsoft Partner Network competency or MAPS.
PARTNERS AND WINDOWS 8
On the Windows 8 front, Microsoft announced the launch of TouchWins, a new commercial channel incentive for featured Windows devices worldwide. Built upon the “Get to Modern” marketing campaign that helps educate customers on migrating from Windows XP and Office 2003, the TouchWins program will provide per-device incentives—up to $10 per Pro tablet—to authorized OEM distributor and reseller partners who sell featured PCs and tablets with Pro and Touch, including Surface Pro. Enrolled partners can join the program and participate immediately.
And in January 2014, Microsoft will be launching the User Experience Design Competency.
Other Partner Network program-wide changes as outlined in the guide include:
- A new version of MAPS, planned for launch in Jan. 2014, will incorporate several new resources to help subscribers get trained to sell and deploy cloud services. Partners can continue to enroll and renew in these cloud programs until the cloud integration launch date.
- Partners will be able to deploy Internal Use Rights (IURs) provided by Cloud Essentials and Cloud Accelerate until the cloud integration launch. IURs for both programs will end June 30, 2014. New partners who join Cloud Essentials after Jul. 8, 2013, will be entitled to five seats of Office 365, and CRM Online rather than the current entitlement of 25 seats. When cloud integration is launched, competencies and MAPS will include IURs for Microsoft Online Services, including Office 365, Windows Azure, CRM Online, and Windows Intune.
- Cloud Essentials partners and partners with MSDN will be given a fixed dollar amount to use for all available Azure trial resources for the duration of the trial.
- The current Small Business Specialist Community (SBSC) will be retired Nov. 2013, but the Small Business competency is available as an option for small business–focused partners. Plans are also being finalized to provide a partner-to-partner community for small business focused–partners in Jan. 2014.
- Later this year, the Windows Embedded Partner Program (WEPP) will transition into the Microsoft Partner Network. During the same time frame, the Windows Embedded team will be launching an Intelligent Systems Specialization to support Microsoft solution partners who serve the enterprise market.
- In Nov. 2013, there will be an update to the Microsoft Partner Network membership fees for MAPS and competencies to account for changes in exchange rates.
- As of Nov. 2013, Microsoft will be limiting the number of business-critical phone support incidents available to gold (15 incidents) and silver (10 incidents) partners.
- A new portfolios of incentives, which go live on a rolling basis for the current fiscal year, is detailed here.
The new MAPS coming later this year:
- Replaces the existing MAPS Development and Design and MAPS Solution Provider subscription options with one universal subscription with resources and benefits for all partners emphasizing Microsoft Cloud Services and serving small/midmarket customers.
- Includes six resource centers that organize and recommend content, resources, and benefits based on core business practices. Partners may opt into one, many, or all of these resource centers as part of their Action Pack Subscription. Partners will have immediate access to the resource centers upon launch of the new MAPS.
Microsoft says the most notable competency revolves around the integration of the cloud into relevant competencies starting in Jan. 2014. This will include:
- New cloud, hosting, and application qualification tracks for relevant competencies.
- Testing on cloud expertise by integrating exams and/or assessments for Office 365, Windows Intune, Windows Azure, and CRM online into the requirements for the relevant competencies.
- Integrating IURs for those products into the benefits for relevant competencies.
- Integrating Online Services Advisor Incentives and Windows Azure consumption incentives.
For other competency updates and requirements changes, as well as more detail on program and incentive changes, grab a magnifying glass and see the Microsoft Partner Network Disclosure of Upcoming Program Changes guide.