Microsoft emphasizes on ‘Cloud’ in its Partner Network, retains old IURs and adds benefits

Microsoft is overhauling its Microsoft Partner Network (MPN). The company is setting new recertification requirements for the companies and businesses that it works with. The changes or amendments clearly suggest Microsoft is betting big on the “Cloud” infrastructure.

Microsoft is rebranding its Microsoft Partner Network to Microsoft Cloud Partner Program (MCPP). The change in the name may be subtle, but it clearly indicates the company’s vision and focus. With the rebranding, Microsoft seems to be reorienting its partners towards cloud infrastructure as the primary product pipeline. By realigning its focus towards cloud infrastructure, Microsoft would be able to confidently match the requirements and buying patterns of customers, indicated Rodney Clark, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President of Channel Sales and Channel Chief:

While we’ve delivered on this promise of customer value in the past, the reality is that this has shifted, especially in the last two to three years. It’s no longer us — Microsoft and our [partners] — leading our customers on this tech-intensity journey of innovation and ongoing development. It’s very much our customers that are directing us based on their emerging needs.

The newly revised program will renew current benefits and introduce new ones:

  • Partners will be able to renew the benefits they’re currently using, while also taking advantage of new benefits packages customized to meet their unique needs based on their business focus.
  • Partners will continue to receive Internal Use Rights licenses (IURs), including on-premises licenses, cloud service subscriptions, and Azure credits. IURs will be now called “Product Benefits”.
  • No partner’s incentive eligibility will change in the 2023 investments and incentives program year, which runs from October 2022 to September 2023.

On October 3, the 15-year-old Microsoft Partner Network will become the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program. As the name change suggests, the program will focus on cloud-based and cloud-driven infrastructure. Specifically, Microsoft is realigning the entire partner network towards Azure data and artificial intelligence, Azure infrastructure, Azure digital and app innovation, business applications, “modern work”, and security.

Microsoft is dropping the Gold and Silver designations for its partners. The company will start categorizing them as Base, Solution, and Expert partners. Needless to add, the categorization will be based on specializations and expertise.

Partners will be able to see their capability scores in a new dashboard in the Microsoft Partner Center. The tool will also measure a partner’s technical skills. Partners have to score at least 70 points out of 100 to qualify for certification. Microsoft is currently restricting the visibility of the scores to its partners. However, it is quite likely that customers could see them in the near future.

Partners have until Sept. 30, 2022, to decide whether to join the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program or renew their legacy Microsoft Partner Network benefit status for another year. Basically, partners have up to 18 months to transition away from MPN to MCPP. Even after 18 months, partners will have one more year for the transition.