On February 24th the Microsoft Partner Network started its shift to mainstream Cloud and with this, a number of changes came into effect:

Mainstreamed Internal Use Rights for Microsoft Cloud Services:

One exciting change is that Internal Use Rights for Microsoft cloud services, like Office 365, Windows Intune, Azure and CRM Online are now available to all partners who have a competency or are subscribed to a Microsoft Action Pack. Previously only members of our cloud incubation programmes had access to internal-use rights for Microsoft cloud services, but with Cloud no longer a niche product this change is introduced to meet growing customer demand.

The benefits model stays the same (see below), but in short, partners have the power of choice to use their IURs in the cloud, on-premises, or in combination, allowing you to move to the cloud when and how you want, just like your customers.

 

New Action Pack Integrates Cloud

Now launched, the brand new cloud-focused version of Microsoft Action Pack gives partners more choice and provides content and training organised and optimised for specific business models like hosting, application development, custom services, managed services, reselling, and device design and development.

Changes to Cloud Programmes:

Complementing the launch of the new Action Pack subscription, the Cloud Essentials programme is retiring with new enrolment into Cloud Essentials no longer possible. Cloud Internal Use Rights for existing Cloud Essentials partners will extend until 30 June 2014. 

The Cloud Accelerate, Cloud Deployment and Azure Circle programmes remain in place for the time being, although internal usage rights will no longer be available for new partners joining these. Existing partners in these programmes will have access to Internal-usage rights until 30 June.

After 30 June 2014, partners must purchase a new Action Pack or gain a competency to continue to use Cloud Internal Usage Rights (IUR).

Recommended next steps:

If you are a Network Member partner who uses internal-use licenses and have not sold cloud seats
Upgrade to Microsoft Action Pack subscription to keep your cloud seats

If you are enrolled in Action Pack and need more than 10 seats
Upgrade to a silver or gold competency

If you are a Cloud Accelerate partner and enrolled in Microsoft Action Pack or have earned a silver competency
Join or upgrade to a silver or gold Small Business or Midmarket Solution Provider competency. Pay the fee and all other requirements will be waived. Contact the Regional Service Center to find out how.


Maintaining your Cloud internal-use rights

After the 24 February release, Cloud Essentials and Cloud Accelerate partners must transition their internal usage rights to the new programme:

For Office 365
1. Obtain and redeem new keys by 30 June 2014
2. Obtain additional licenses, if needed
3. Reassign users, if needed

For CRM Online
1. Ensure your existing subscription has been transitioned from Commerce Transaction Platform to Microsoft Online Services Platform
2. Obtain and redeem new keys by 30 June 2014
3. Obtain additional licenses, if needed
4. Reassign users, if needed

For Windows Intune
1. Windows Intune benefit transition will begin in April 2014.
2. Obtain and redeem new keys by 30 June 2014
3. Obtain additional licenses, if needed
4. Reassign users, if needed

For Windows Azure
No action is needed - Windows Azure benefits and benefit provisioning mechanisms are not changing at this time.

For further information on what you must do to maintain your internal-use rights seats, or to learn how you can gain additional seats, please read the Internal-Use Rights Transition Guide.

Competency Changes:

New Intelligent Systems competency: 

One of the most exciting new business opportunities is related to the commercial “internet of things”, a true devices-and-services opportunity. According to Gartner, Microsoft is positioned very strongly here, and to help our partners capitalise on this, we have launched a new Intelligent Systems competency.

Digital Marketing competency evolves to Digital Advertising: 

Last year, we modified the Digital Marketing competency to focus on agencies and advertising partners. Digital marketing is a broad and potentially misleading term, so for clarity and focus we have completed the transition by changing the name to Digital Advertising and updating the requirements to better reflect these critical partners.

Application track for Collaboration & Content competency: 

Most of our solution competencies have an application track that enables partners to qualify via a tested application as opposed to accredited people. Our SharePoint business has a large partner ecosystem focused on applications that we need to further support, highlight and more appropriately qualify via our Microsoft Platform Ready engine.

Standard updates to requirements:

To ensure that partners have the most current Microsoft skills and applications to successfully sell and deliver our technologies, we have updated relevant exams, accreditation and application requirements and retired old ones. We have also added a presale accreditation requirement to eight solution competencies. Full details on the changes can be found in the Disclosure Guide.

These changes to requirements may mean your competency is now in Active Non-Compliant status (check the Partner Membership Centre to see if this is the case). If it is, don’t worry, you have until your anniversary date to meet the new requirements and maintain your status, branding and benefits.

However, we encourage you not to wait to meet new requirements, as most of the training and exams are available now (Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 and Intelligent Systems coming soon). Your best resource for the latest training is partner learning paths. In addition, for a limited time, partners can take advantage of a new MPN competency exam pack offer. Effective 1 January 2014, discounts of 35% off packs of five are now available. Each exam comes with a Second Shot voucher if a retake is required. Packs must be purchased by May 31, 2014 and used by December 31, 2014.

Further details

If you would like further information about any of these changes, we recommend you review the MPN Changes Presentation or the MPN Disclosure Guide.
For any questions, please visit the partner support communities.