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Microsoft security partners get bonuses for selling identity products

Lost among the hoopla over Microsoft’s Vista and Software as a Service news yesterday were some pretty big channel enhancements for security partners.

The back story to the news is that, for the past year, Microsoft has been combining its security and identity business groups into one new department, the aptly named Security and Identity Business Group. Now that most of the logistics are in place, Microsoft is adding new incentives for partners who sell security and identity products together.

For one, Microsoft is expanding its Security Software Advisor (SSA) program, which had applied only to security products, to cover identity products as well. SSA gives rebates to partners that influence a sale and perform the deployment but don’t actually make the sale. Under the program, partners can earn up to 30% of the retail price once they show proof of influence and proof of deployment.

“With the establishment of the new division, it makes sense to expand the program in this way,” Mark Hassall, the group’s partner marketing director, told me.

The other big enhancement is the new SSA Jumpstart program. Partners that sell identity products together with security will receive a 50% bonus on top of their first SSA claim between now and Sept. 30.

The changes are part of a $75 million investment the Security and Identity Business Group is making in sales incentives, training, marketing and field resources this year. In the past year, participation in SSA has increased from 4,000 partners to 23,000, Hassall said.

“We’ve really seen the program take off,” he said. “We’ve been actively promoting these programs and the benefits of these programs to partners.”

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