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The Microsoft Cloud Partner Program Part 1

Friday, June 10, 2022
Reading time: 4 minutes
Updated: Monday, September 26, 2022

“The world is changing.” I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air.” J.R.R. Tolkien

In the spring of 2022, Microsoft announced that it would transform its previous partner program (Microsoft Partner Network, MPN) into the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program.

The deadline for the start of this new program, which will completely replace the MPN, is 1 October 2022 and it includes a completely new structure and associated significant changes. Note that these changes are far-reaching, but certainly manageable! But before we go into the details of the changes, the question arises as to why this has come about at all?

Why this change was made

The software market has been fast evolving since before the Covid 19 pandemic. Advancing digitalization, new technologies, increased mobility and many other things have been shaping the market for years, if not decades. The pandemic has now intensified or accelerated this digital transformation. The shift towards the cloud is no longer a myth in the world of business applications, but is in full swing and is having an impact, albeit gradual, on all areas of life and business.

Since the Dynamics 2013 version, and with the cloud-ready 2018 version, it was clear that Microsoft would take this path. The changes now announced as part of the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program are, in our view, the necessary consequence of the product development of recent years: Microsoft is now taking “the cloud” completely out of its previous shadowy existence and making it the focal point in the area of business applications. What was still almost unthinkable pre-covid has become clear during the last two years: The cloud offers Dynamics partners very large growth potentials and clear earning opportunities – both in the licensing business and in service revenues.

Ultimately, this planned step is the provisional end point of a journey that began long ago. Microsoft has offered Office 365 as a cloud system since 2011, solutions such as Dynamics 365 CRM or Finance & Operations as a cloud version since 2016 and Dynamics 365 Business Central since 2018.

The next step in this journey is to reflect these changes in the Microsoft Partner Program. While the partner program has been added to or tweaked time and again over the past 30 years, it has never been fundamentally changed. You could consider the announcement coming on 01 October 2022 as this fundamental change or reboot.

What was announced?

In spring 2022, Microsoft announced the “Microsoft Cloud Partner Program”. This announcement represents not only a mere renaming, but a restructuring of the partner network. Until now, to interact with Microsoft as a partner within MPN, you had to choose one of the following:  Accept Registered Partner status, subscribe to the Action Pack or achieve a Silver or Gold Competency to highlight your relevant expertise and skills. These Silver and Gold Competencies will no longer exist with the new partner program.

From 01 October 2022, Microsoft partners will be able to prove their know-how and qualification in six solution areas (and not in 18 competences as before with MPN).

In each of these six solution areas, partners are measured using so-called “Partner Capability Scores” (PCS) , which are awarded in the three categories “Performance”, “Skilling” and “Customer Success”. PCS are points that partners receive for achieving certain successes in these three categories.  

Depending on which solution area (Business Applications, Modern Work, Security or Azure) you are aiming for as a partner, you can collect points in the three above mentioned categories (Performance, Skilling and Customer Success) with different weightings. Regardless of the solution area, partners must collect at least 70 points to be recognized as a “Solution Partner”.

In addition, at least one point must be achieved in each of the five sub-categories (Net Customer Adds, Intermediate Certs, Advanced Certs, Usage Growth and Deployments) in order to obtain an overall qualification for the solution area. 

After achieving the Designation for the Microsoft solution area, Partners may further validate and differentiate their in-depth knowledge by earning specializations aligned to Microsoft solution areas. Solutions partner for Business Applications may acquire one or all of these specializations: Low Code Application Development, Small and Midsized Business Management, Intelligent Automation.

Most partners have already made a start without knowing it

As mentioned at the beginning, the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program represents a completely new partner structure. This naturally raises questions and can lead to uncertainty under certain circumstances. Realistically, however, this new structure is also a result of what many Dynamics partners are already doing anyway: To further promote the spread of SaaS solutions. Since April 2022, Microsoft partners can view their progress according to the new structure in the Partner Center. These values are imported centrally as soon as you make a transaction for a customer or submit a new certification, etc. We know from experience that many Dynamics partners were surprised to see how far you have already come in the qualification process.

You should use this basis now to successfully master the rest of the way. Companial offers different types of support for Dynamics partners here, depending on which route you choose. Contact us if you would like to find out more.

Update

Please note: As of September 22, 2022, Microsoft announced the introduction of an SMB track for the “Business Applications” solution area in the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program. This results in changes in the thresholds for achieving “Solution Partner” status. The original announcement from Microsoft can be found here.

Companial is here to guide you through the details, tactics, and readiness required to acquire Microsoft Solution Partner designation with our Fast Track to Microsoft Cloud Partner Program.

Martina Plathe