Microsoft partner program changes and what they mean

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In March this year, Microsoft announced that they would be overhauling the Microsoft Partner Network and carrying out one of the biggest changes in its partner history. Coming in October 2022, the partner program will be renamed as the ‘Microsoft Cloud Partner Program’ to show Microsoft’s focus on cloud-first. Alongside this, there are major changes to how partners are recognised and how Microsoft measure partner success.

How are partners recognised today?

Today, partners can attain competencies across specialist areas – such as Cloud Platform (for Azure), Cloud Productivity (for Microsoft 365) and Security. There are nearly 20 competencies today available for partners to attain, which can be achieved as Silver or Gold.

These competencies tend to require organisations to meet certification requirements where a certain number of employees are certified in specific exams and performance requirements to show customer growth in the specific solution area.

What is changing?

From October all competencies will be removed and replaced with six solutions designations:

  • Security (Microsoft 365 and Azure)
  • Modern Work (Microsoft 365)
  • Business Applications (Dynamics 365 and Power Platform)
  • Infrastructure (Azure)
  • Data & AI (Azure)
  • Digital & App Innovation (Azure)

Attaining these will require meeting tougher requirements based on a ‘partner capability score’.

Advanced Specialisations

The level above designations is Advanced Specialisations. These show a strong commitment and technical expertise in specific technical areas. Advanced Specialisations have been around for a little while now but will be remaining with the change and are a great indicator of a partner’s capabilities.

We are proud to have attained three security Advanced Specialisations, which shows our focus on Microsoft’s security stack and developing advanced technical solutions on Microsoft 365 Defender and Microsoft Sentinel with our MDR and XDR services.

What this means for customers

These changes mean that customers will now have a new way of assessing a partner’s capabilities based on designations and Advanced Specialisations instead of competencies. From October, you will see Microsoft badges changes as the competencies are removed.

Also, with the tougher requirements it will mean that there are likely going to be fewer Microsoft partners as Microsoft are making the award criteria much higher and across fewer categories. Whilst challenging for partners, this is great way for customers to be able to better understand partner capabilities and find the right partner for implementing or managing a particular Microsoft technology or solution.

What’s next?

At the moment everything remains the same, however from October 2022 all the new changes will take effect. You can expect to see the new partner changes being advertised more by Microsoft over the coming months to drive education and awareness for partners and customers and then the new partner statuses being demonstrated from October – so watch this space!

If you are looking for a Microsoft partner for Azure, Microsoft 365 or Dynamics, please get in touch.

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