by Joe Chason, US Microsoft Partner Network lead
On February 24, several program-wide changes to the Microsoft Partner Network will take effect. Some of these changes are related to the Microsoft Cloud Partner programs. To help you understand what the cloud-related changes are, and how they may affect your company’s membership, I compiled this list of the questions partners most frequently ask about this topic. It is a helpful companion to the Microsoft Partner Network disclosure guide and to the Partner Program Updates blog post by Julie Bennani.
New (added 2/13)! Guidance for partners about the changes to the cloud programs and internal use rights for Microsoft cloud services. Includes common partner scenarios and next steps.
Why is Microsoft retiring the Cloud Partner programs?
Microsoft Cloud Partner programs (comprising Cloud Essentials, Cloud Accelerate, Cloud Deployment, and Azure Circle) were originally created to support partners in developing new practices around Microsoft cloud solutions. We invested in partners who started this journey with us early. Now, many of those early adopters have built successful cloud practices, and cloud is now part of nearly all IT conversations. It is time to integrate these programs into the core Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) program, which we will do through a phased approach over the course of the next year.
As part of this program integration and effective February 24, the internal use rights benefits that were offered through Cloud Essentials and Cloud Accelerate will become part of the core benefits offered to all Microsoft Action Pack subscribers and all partners with a silver or gold competency. This will:
- Streamline and improve partner experience by consolidating all benefits into one location;
- Update the internal-use rights system to provide the power of choice. You will be able to choose to deploy on-premises or in the cloud;
- Enable partners with an Action Pack subscription or an MPN competency to try these cloud products themselves to accelerate their business growth. An IDC study indicates that partners with more than 50 percent of their revenue related to the cloud have been benefiting from higher gross profit, more new customers, increased revenue per employee and faster overall business growth.
What happened to the cloud tracks that were part of the earlier announcements about MPN competency changes?
We are still committed to integrating cloud into the Microsoft Partner Network. Based on your feedback, we suspended the addition of distinct cloud tracks into the MPN competencies so we could approach it more simply. You can expect to see the integration of cloud in the third quarter of 2014 when we retire the Cloud Accelerate, Cloud Deployment, and Azure Circle programs.
How will the retirement of Cloud Essentials work?
We will close Cloud Essentials to new enrollments on February 24, and retire the program on June 30. You will be able to deploy your internal-use software provided by Cloud Essentials until February 23. On February 24, you will forego any licenses you have not used. You may then use the licenses you have deployed until June 30. After June 30, you will have internal-use rights for Microsoft cloud services as part of your core benefits if you have a Microsoft Action Pack subscription or a Microsoft competency.
Partners will need to transition their current internal-use software licenses tenants to the new internal-use software licenses process and entitlements available through the Microsoft Action Pack subscription or all competencies before June 30.
If Cloud Essentials is going away, will I still be eligible to sell Microsoft Online Services and receive incentives?
Yes! As a Cloud Essentials subscriber, you accepted the Microsoft Online Services Partner Agreement (MOSPA). This agreement allows you to sell cloud subscriptions and receive the core advisor incentives, as detailed in the Microsoft Online Services Advisor Incentives guide.
How do I earn cloud accelerator incentives?
If you are a Cloud Accelerate partner, you will be eligible for the cloud accelerator incentives until the fall of 2014. The Cloud Accelerate program will continue for the time being. Details are in the Microsoft Online Services Advisor Incentives guide.
Without Cloud Essentials, what is the best program option for me to receive benefits that help me establish and build my Microsoft cloud practice?
Here are my suggestions, based on how established your cloud practice currently is, and who your customers are:
- Subscribe to the Microsoft Action Pack, which has been redesigned to offer resources and benefits relevant to all partners who serve SMB customers, with emphasis on cloud services. This new subscription model will debut on February 24 at a price of US $475. You can subscribe before then at the current price and save on the first year of your subscription.
- If you have a more established cloud practice, meet the requirements for the Cloud Accelerate program (which will continue for the time being) and the Cloud Deployment program for access to benefits that enable business growth.
- Earn a silver or gold competency that is reflective of your company’s expertise. Partners with a focus on Microsoft Office 365 and cloud solutions gravitate toward these competencies that reflect cloud capabilities:
How can I continue to receive internal use software benefits for Microsoft cloud services? The internal use software benefits for Microsoft Cloud Services (including Microsoft Office 365, Windows Intune, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, and Windows Azure) that are currently granted through Cloud Essentials and Cloud Accelerate will be integrated into the MPN core benefits for Microsoft Action Pack subscribers and competency partners beginning February 24.
Review your license statement in the partner digital distribution portal for details about your current core internal-use software benefits. For a variety of internal-use software licenses, you will have the opportunity to exchange current on-premises core internal-use software licenses for access to cloud internal-use software benefits.
- Action Pack subscribers – review page 11 of the MPN disclosure guide for Cloud Services license benefits.
- Competency partners – review page 14 of the MPN disclosure guide for Cloud Services license benefit
Can I continue to use my Delegated Administration Privileges?
Yes! This resource will continue to be available to partners that have signed the Microsoft Online Services Partner Agreement (MOSPA) and have an active internal-use software license subscription.
I’m interested in joining the Cloud Deployment program and accessing the benefits. What do I need to do?
When your company meets the Cloud Deployment program requirements, your organization is automatically assigned Cloud Deployment partner status within the Microsoft Partner Network. No action is necessary. Sign in to the Cloud Deployment page on the MPN portal for more information.
Cloud Deployment requirements:
- Attain Cloud Accelerate status.
- Earn a Silver or Gold Collaboration and Content; Communications; Devices and Deployment; Messaging; or Project and Portfolio Management competency.
- Complete one Office 365 deployment of more than 150 seats in the last 18 months by March 31.