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Microsoft partner program changes postponed to give partners breathing room

Microsoft postpones some changes to its Microsoft Partner Network to give partners some extra time to meet new requirements.

Back in July at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference, CEO Steve Balmer emphasized the importance of cloud as the future of innovation and the path to opportunity for partners. At that time Microsoft announced changes to its Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) programs and a rollout schedule set to begin in January. Yesterday, the company revised the rollout schedule for the Microsoft partner program changes based on partner feedback.

In a nutshell, Microsoft is lengthening the timeline of the program changes with two program releases, one scheduled for February 2014 and the other for sometime in late Q3 2014, giving partners more time to make adjustments to their business.

When Microsoft first laid out the MPN program changes in July, the most notable was the integration of cloud programs into MPN competencies and the Microsoft Action Pack Subscription (MAPS) beginning in January 2014.

More specifically, included in the initial announcement was the introduction of new cloud tracks in applicable competencies; updated requirements for partners who qualify through the standard track; and, on June 30, 2014, the retirement of the Cloud Essentials, Cloud Accelerate, Cloud Deployment and Windows Azure Circle programs.

Noting that the company is taking a "more measured approach" and that partners had told Microsoft that they needed more time for "cloud mainstreaming," Julie Bennani, general manager for the MPN, laid out the Microsoft partner program changes in a blog post posted yesterday on Microsoft's Digital WPC website.

Changes made to the initial MPN program announcement are laid out as follows:

In February:

  • All partners in a competency or subscribing to MAPS will be offered Cloud Internal Use Rights (IUR).
  • A new cloud-focused version of MAPS will be launched. It will offer partners more choice and will be optimized for specific partner business models, such as hosting, application development, custom services, managed services, reselling, and device design and development.
  • The Cloud Essentials program will be retired and net-new enrollment into the partner program will end with the February 2014 release of the new MAPS. Additionally, Cloud IUR for existing Cloud Essentials partners will be extended until June 30, 2014; after that date, only partners with the new MAPS or a competency will be able to use Cloud IUR.
  • A new Intelligent Systems competency will launch.
  • For clarity, some changes have been made to the Digital Marketing competency, including a name change to Digital Advertising, as well as some updating of requirements.
  • An application track will be launched for the Collaboration and Content competency.
  • There will be updates to exams, assessments and application tests to reflect the latest products in the market. Others will be retired.

In late Q3:

  • The Cloud Accelerate, Cloud Deployment and Azure Circle programs will be retired.
  • The new Datacenter competency rolls out, a merger of the previous Server Platform, Management and Virtualization, and Identity and Access competencies. Training content for the new competency will roll out in February 2014.
  • The Business Intelligence competency is getting a name change, as well as new requirements. Going forward, it will be called the Data Analytics competency. Expect to see training material during the first half of 2014.
  • Hosting tracks will be included in the following core competencies: Datacenter, Messaging, Communications and Data Analytics. The Hosting competency will be retired.
  • The Mobility competency will be retired. Partners will be transitioned into the Application Development or the Devices and Deployment competency.

For more details on how these changes impact any individual partner business, Microsoft suggests that partners access the Disclosure Guide on the MPN portal or call their support team.

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