IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

How to Navigate the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program

Microsoft has provided a lengthy on-ramp to the major changes ahead, but partners should start reviewing the requirements now so they can make good business decisions. By Andrew Murphy

MICROSOFT HAS ANNOUNCED many new changes for partners throughout the last year, beginning with the Microsoft New Commerce Experience rollout, a multistage investment in the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program to help partners better support their customers’ digital transformation initiatives. Now, the Microsoft Partner Network will become the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program (MCPP) in October.

This most recent change to the company’s partner program is intended to simplify partnering choices for customers, and the change signifies a significant shift in the company’s partner program, focusing on partner growth and customer outcomes, and bringing with it an entirely new partner benefits program.

The life of a managed service provider (MSP) can be one of insanity, especially when trying to keep up with the latest changes from Microsoft. The transition from the Microsoft Partner Network to the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program is thankfully not happening overnight, allowing partners to achieve new requirements from the new program while continuing to reap the benefits of their current competency and incentive programs.

Let’s explore in more detail:

Impact on Partners

The MCPP is the newest program created to track, measure success, and reward Solutions Partners across six different designation groups. These groups are designed to help identify broad technical capabilities and experience in high-demand Microsoft Cloud solution areas and showcase the ability to deliver successful customer outcomes. This change will mean different things for partners currently enrolled in Silver and Gold Competencies versus those striving to meet Competency requirements.

Action Pack will remain, so moving from Competencies to Solutions Partner will likely be the most significant change for partners, as “Solutions Partner” designations come with a new set of qualification requirements. Organizations will need to earn a partner capability score of at least 70 points out of the 100 possible points (including at least 1 point in all categories and subcategories) across the four measurement areas to obtain a Solutions Partner designation.

By October 2022, all legacy Competencies will be invalid, replaced with the new Solutions Partner designations. It’s important to note that those enrolled in the old benefits program as of Sept. 30, 2022, can continue to pay for legacy Microsoft Partner Network benefits at their next renewal whether or not they qualify for a Solutions Partner designation. Though benefits such as Internal Use Rights (IURs) will continue, grandfathered incentives under the legacy program are slated to end Oct. 3, 2023.

Silver partners may feel this transition the most, as the new program fees are aligned with Gold, but the year-long transition allows partners to discover if the new benchmarks are worth the investment.

The Transition Process

While the changes to the program can seem daunting to partners, there is no need to lose sleep over the transition (we’ve already lost enough sleep as it is). Microsoft has provided a lengthy on-ramp to the changes to ensure partners don’t feel rushed, but we recommend partners start soon to ensure they understand the requirements and have time to make the best business decisions for their organization and customers.

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