Changes for Microsoft Partners in the new cloud world

30th October 2023

Microsoft’s investment in cloud technology has brought significant changes to the Microsoft Partner Program. Formerly known as the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN), the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program (MCPP) is more than just a change of name.

It reflects Microsoft’s commitment in meeting its customers’ expectations by transitioning all of its business operations from on-premise to the cloud and matching customers’ needs by aligning partner expertise and capabilities with six new ‘Solution Areas’ within the cloud. These are Business Applications, Data & AI (Azure), Infrastructure (Azure), Digital & App Innovation (Azure), and Modern Work and Security.

There are now two qualifying levels for all Microsoft Partners:

Solution partner designation: To achieve a solution partner designation, Microsoft Partners have to meet specific requirements across Microsoft’s new partner capability score:
(a) performance
(b) skilled workforce
(c) customer success, measured by usage growth and number of successful deployments, in one or more Solution Areas.

Specialized and expert programs: The second qualifying level, which is similar to the retired silver and gold accreditation programs, allows Microsoft Partners to further differentiate themselves from their competitors by demonstrating deep technical expertise and experience in specific technical scenarios under each Solution Area.

This change has not come as a surprise to Microsoft Partners who are used to continuously evolving their capabilities and win new business. Microsoft Partners who qualify for a solution partner designation increase their competitiveness with the benefits and incentives they receive from Microsoft.

However, for someone who has worked for over ten years for a successful Microsoft Gold ERP and CRM partner, it is understandable how these new requirements based on usage growth in a certain monthly period coupled together with certification and annual fees, may prove difficult for some partners to meet due to their resource constraints.

As a result, some partners may consider the time is right to join, merge with or acquire other partners in order to gain critical mass to achieve the required designation. This could be through winning new or expand on existing lines of business or expanding their portfolio with Microsoft products in order to achieve a new solution designation.

Each Microsoft Partner will have their own roadmap aligned with their business to help them  navigate their journey through the MCPP and attain their solution partner designation badge, or to increase their competitive edge through the specialized and expert programs available.

Whether your plan is to win new business, add more customers, employ new skilled professionals, partner or collaborate with other Microsoft Partners or M&A activity, having the right legal support behind you is vital. This is particularly true if you find yourself navigating rough waters in areas such as contract drafting, contract negotiation and closure, IP protection, employment contracts, M&A activity.

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