Cloud Program Update: Your Questions, Answered


by Joe Chason, US Microsoft Partner Network lead

imageOn 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.

Yammer_iconJoin the conversation about this topic in our Cloud Partner Yammer group. How to join here.

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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.

Download the Cloud Integration partner guidance deck from our Yammer network. How to join here.

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.

imageIf 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?
imageHere are my suggestions, based on how established your cloud practice currently is, and who your customers are:

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.

Download the new Cloud Integration partner guidance deck from our Yammer network. How to join here.

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.

Yammer_iconJoin the conversation about this topic in our Cloud Partner Yammer group. How to join here.

Comments (24)
  1. Anonymous says:

    Welcome to this week’s issue of the US Partner News Online! Each week, we’ll bring you the latest news

  2. Anonymous says:

    Welcome to this week’s issue of the US Partner News Online! Each week, we’ll bring you the latest news

  3. Disappointed Partner says:

    Ain’t no love? Not a whole lot. I don’t envy your job of trying to sell this debacle to (what 600,000+) small business people, who for the most part know how to run an ENTIRE business. But hey, it’s Microsoft’s business and I respect their right to do
    what ever they want with their business. I am sure MS respects my right to run my business any way I see fit. We both need to trim our unprofitable relationships from time-to-time. As a 21+ year partner (mostly Silver) it is going to be a sad day indeed. But
    we have survived other sad days. Dell/Sonicwall, Dell/EquaLogic, Intel (that was VERY sad), HP, and IBM. Ain’t no love? Seems like the only ones who love us now are Google and Linux. Are you kidding? Nope, Google! What’s this world coming to? Well, business
    class software running on Linux, apparently. I don’t think much of Linux, less of Google, and even less of Apple. Fortunately, I don’t need to be your partner to profit from MS software as we transition to more profitable relationships. I hope MS re-thinks
    this decision. If they don’t, I respect that.

  4. Smaller says:

    Even though Screwed’s language is a bit on the rough side, he does have a point. The thing is, for very very small companies who are trying to land a customer base, it is not easy to shell out the new $400+ cost of the action pack nor qualify for a competency
    for which we need to sell 250 (I think) cloud seats… I may be a bit off, have not reviewed the competency requirements in a while. The Azure benefits provided to Cloud Accelerate partners have been priceless for some of us. Access to Office 365 and Intune
    encourages internal use which could translate on smoother sales. I may be wrong on some of the assertions, as I did not do careful fact checking before writing this -too busy- but the general idea is that. Smaller MPNs are the ones who will lose more, almost
    as in a logarithmic scale. At any rate, the programs have been very helpful in every possible way so we do thank you guys for your support.

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