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Cloud Program Update: Your Questions, Answered

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by Joe Chason, US Microsoft Partner Network lead

imageOn February 24, several program-wide changes to the Microsoft Partner Network will take effect. Some of these changes are related to the Microsoft Cloud Partner programs. To help you understand what the cloud-related changes are, and how they may affect your company’s membership, I compiled this list of the questions partners most frequently ask about this topic. It is a helpful companion to the Microsoft Partner Network disclosure guide and to the Partner Program Updates blog post by Julie Bennani.

Yammer_iconJoin the conversation about this topic in our Cloud Partner Yammer group. How to join here.

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New (added 2/13)! Guidance for partners about the changes to the cloud programs and internal use rights for Microsoft cloud services. Includes common partner scenarios and next steps.

Download the Cloud Integration partner guidance deck from our Yammer network. How to join here.

Why is Microsoft retiring the Cloud Partner programs?
Microsoft Cloud Partner programs (comprising Cloud Essentials, Cloud Accelerate, Cloud Deployment, and Azure Circle) were originally created to support partners in developing new practices around Microsoft cloud solutions. We invested in partners who started this journey with us early. Now, many of those early  adopters have built successful cloud practices, and cloud is now part of nearly all IT conversations. It is time to integrate these programs into the core Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) program, which we will do through a phased approach over the course of the next year.

As part of this program integration and effective February 24, the internal use rights benefits that were offered through Cloud Essentials and Cloud Accelerate will become part of the core benefits offered to all Microsoft Action Pack subscribers and all partners with a silver or gold competency. This will:

  • Streamline and improve partner experience by consolidating all benefits into one location;
  • Update the internal-use rights system to provide the power of choice. You will be able to choose to deploy on-premises or in the cloud;
  • Enable partners with an Action Pack subscription or an MPN competency to try these cloud products themselves to accelerate their business growth. An IDC study indicates that partners with more than 50 percent of their revenue related to the cloud have been benefiting from higher gross profit, more new customers, increased revenue per employee and faster overall business growth.

What happened to the cloud tracks that were part of the earlier announcements about MPN competency changes?
We are still committed to integrating cloud into the Microsoft Partner Network. Based on your feedback, we suspended the addition of distinct cloud tracks into the MPN competencies so we could approach it more simply. You can expect to see the integration of cloud in the third quarter of 2014 when we retire the Cloud Accelerate, Cloud Deployment, and Azure Circle programs.

How will the retirement of Cloud Essentials work?
We will close Cloud Essentials to new enrollments on February 24, and retire the program on June 30. You will be able to deploy your internal-use software provided by Cloud Essentials until February 23. On February 24, you will forego any licenses you have not used. You may then use the licenses you have deployed until June 30. After June 30, you will have internal-use rights for Microsoft cloud services as part of your core benefits if you have a Microsoft Action Pack subscription or a Microsoft competency.

Partners will need to transition their current internal-use software licenses tenants to the new internal-use software licenses process and entitlements available through the Microsoft Action Pack subscription or all competencies before June 30.

imageIf Cloud Essentials is going away, will I still be eligible to sell Microsoft Online Services and receive incentives?
Yes!  As a Cloud Essentials subscriber, you accepted the Microsoft Online Services Partner Agreement (MOSPA). This agreement allows you to sell cloud subscriptions and receive the core advisor incentives, as detailed in the Microsoft Online Services Advisor Incentives guide.

How do I earn cloud accelerator incentives?
If you are a Cloud Accelerate partner, you will be eligible for the cloud accelerator incentives until the fall of 2014. The Cloud Accelerate program will continue for the time being. Details are in the Microsoft Online Services Advisor Incentives guide.

Without Cloud Essentials, what is the best program option for me to receive benefits that help me establish and build my Microsoft cloud practice?
imageHere are my suggestions, based on how established your cloud practice currently is, and who your customers are:

How can I continue to receive internal use software benefits for Microsoft cloud services? The internal use software benefits for Microsoft Cloud Services (including Microsoft Office 365, Windows Intune, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, and Windows Azure) that are currently granted through Cloud Essentials and Cloud Accelerate will be integrated into the MPN core benefits for Microsoft Action Pack subscribers and competency partners beginning February 24.

Download the new Cloud Integration partner guidance deck from our Yammer network. How to join here.

Review your license statement in the partner digital distribution portal for details about your current core internal-use software benefits. For a variety of internal-use software licenses, you will have the opportunity to exchange current on-premises core internal-use software licenses for access to cloud internal-use software benefits.

  • Action Pack subscribers – review page 11 of the MPN disclosure guide for Cloud Services license benefits.
  • Competency partners – review page 14 of the MPN disclosure guide for Cloud Services license benefit

Can I continue to use my Delegated Administration Privileges?
Yes!  This resource will continue to be available to partners that have signed the Microsoft Online Services Partner Agreement (MOSPA) and have an active internal-use software license subscription.

I’m interested in joining the Cloud Deployment program and accessing the benefits. What do I need to do?
When your company meets the Cloud Deployment program requirements, your organization is automatically assigned Cloud Deployment partner status within the Microsoft Partner Network. No action is necessary. Sign in to the Cloud Deployment page on the MPN portal for more information.

Cloud Deployment requirements:

  • Attain Cloud Accelerate status.
  • Earn a Silver or Gold Collaboration and Content; Communications; Devices and Deployment; Messaging; or Project and Portfolio Management competency.
  • Complete one Office 365 deployment of more than 150 seats in the last 18 months by March 31.

Yammer_iconJoin the conversation about this topic in our Cloud Partner Yammer group. How to join here.

Comments
  • I'm glad to hear that, JJ. Please let me know if you need anything further from us to support those conversations. We want to ensure that partners remain aware of the Cloud Program updates, and that all of their questions are being answered. Thank you!

  • Good to see the program maturing. Terribly sad to see Microsoft spending time and energy in the wrong things. I have a few questions: Why cut back on cloud benefits? Instead of CUTTING BACK IUR cloud benefits from 250 E3 seats to 25 for Silver Partners, you should have provided the # of seats but of E4 (if you are really interested in partners dogfooding Lync) or maybe 50 or 100 seats instead of copying the byzantine MPN IUR allocations. I am lost at how you guys make these decisions in Redmond. What is your business logic here? Every time the MPN program changed it seems like we Partners end up paying more and getting less. The deadline for these changes in Cloud benefit is in less than a month. I just became aware of this yesterday through an email bulletin. How much lead time did you originally give Partners for changes in Cloud benefits? I have less than a month to get our cloud licensing affairs in order and INCREASE our business costs accordingly. Thank you Microsoft! Really, instead of wasting time making drastic and ignorant moves in the MPN that we as clients (we pay for our MPN fees and go to WPC every year) pay for, you should be spending your time and resources figuring out how to help us sell more (are you aware of how PAINFUL it is to create and maintain demo accounts in 365?), have EASIER access to sales reports, heave better client support tools (half ass delegated admin is long in the tooth) and figure out a way for Partners to integrate the story of Microsoft devices in the cloud sales story as right now we have ZERO incentive to do so. This, ladies and gentlemen looks like the business decision of an MS lawyer, accountant or by an executive who has zero sales or field experience and felt compelled to mess around with MPN one more time because he or she had to stay busy doing something. This is one more of those tiny cuts that have been hurting the MS Partner Program every year, making it less and less alluring and strategic for dedicated organizations like mine. Someone at MS will probably get an internal award for this executive decision and hurtful waste of time and resources. Heck, that executive may even get promoted and sent back to the marketing department he or she came from and continue wasting Microsoft $ and opportunities by focusing on problems that do not exist.

  • Good to see the program maturing. Terribly sad to see Microsoft spending time and energy in the wrong things. I have a few questions: Why cut back on cloud benefits? Instead of CUTTING BACK IUR cloud benefits from 250 E3 seats to 25 for Silver Partners, you should have provided the # of seats but of E4 (if you are really interested in partners dogfooding Lync) or maybe 50 or 100 seats instead of copying the byzantine MPN IUR allocations. I am lost at how you guys make these decisions in Redmond. What is your business logic here? Every time the MPN program changed it seems like we Partners end up paying more and getting less. The deadline for these changes in Cloud benefit is in less than a month. I just became aware of this yesterday through an email bulletin. How much lead time did you originally give Partners for changes in Cloud benefits? I have less than a month to get our cloud licensing affairs in order and INCREASE our business costs accordingly. Thank you Microsoft! Really, instead of wasting time making drastic and ignorant moves in the MPN that we as clients (we pay for our MPN fees and go to WPC every year) pay for, you should be spending your time and resources figuring out how to help us sell more (are you aware of how PAINFUL it is to create and maintain demo accounts in 365?), have EASIER access to sales reports, heave better client support tools (half ass delegated admin is long in the tooth) and figure out a way for Partners to integrate the story of Microsoft devices in the cloud sales story as right now we have ZERO incentive to do so. This, ladies and gentlemen looks like the business decision of an MS lawyer, accountant or by an executive who has zero sales or field experience and felt compelled to mess around with MPN one more time because he or she had to stay busy doing something. This is one more of those tiny cuts that have been hurting the MS Partner Program every year, making it less and less alluring and strategic for dedicated organizations like mine. Someone at MS will probably get an internal award for this executive decision and hurtful waste of time and resources. Heck, that executive may even get promoted and sent back to the marketing department he or she came from and continue wasting Microsoft $ and opportunities by focusing on problems that do not exist.

  • What happens to the commissions/fees/incentives after June 30th/Fall 2014? Should Partners expect to no longer receive fee statements and direct deposits? If Microsoft stops paying these, there will be a mass Partner exodus - I caution you all to think this through, again, very carefully. You're not the only game in town. Despite your apparent miscalculations, most customers will not just go direct, even via syndication partners such as Go Daddy, as many customers will still need the services of a competent Partner to get setup, integrated, migrated, customized, trained and ultimately where they need to be which is far from the OOBE (out of box experience) one gets with Microsoft Online Services. If you alienate these Partners, they will lead the customers to your competition, as all loyalty will be pretty much gone at this point and with 1,000+ cuts, Microsoft will be basically dead in the eyes of many currently in your Partner community. Expect to see significant migrations away from Office 365, etc. if this happens. Tread carefully. In the words of Tim Gunn, "did you think this through?? are you sure about this??".

  • Thanks for sharing.

  • Microsoft's Partner channel drives 95% of Microsoft's annual revenue. Why cut the hand that feeds? You should instead be cutting the ad budget and killing off the money losing products such as Surface, Windows Phone, etc. that no one wants. Ask HP, Windows 8 is a flop. Ask the device OEM's that Microsoft must pay to make phones with their OS. When was the last time you saw anyone outside of western Washington using a Windows Phone? Why did I have to keep cringing at those horrible Surface ads all over the place during the Seahawks game and as I drive all over L.A.? Do you really need to cover the entire side of a building like that? It pains me to see news about partners getting cuts while you are making it rain with ad dollars for something that is not so much of a strategic plan, but a reactive "me too! - oops I'm late again" jealousy play. How much loss was written down due to aQuantive? How are things with Nokia going? Who actually finds what they need on Bing (who even uses it without being paid or unable to figure out default browser settings)? All of this Apple and Google envy needs to stop. Consumer perception of Microsoft is NOT cool/hip/sexy, it's nerdy, stuffy and corporate. Embrace that. You have highly successful business technologies that are Microsoft's bread and butter, especially with the big bucks Enterprise customers - things like Office, SQL, Exchange - you know, that stuff running in those shiny new datacenters you keep building, that is very popular with the actual fans and evangelists of Microsoft. Your loyal partners passionately and successfully sell the heck out of these, on your behalf, and have built you a thriving cloud ecosystem, and you reward these partners by cutting their benefits and revenue? Your priorities are way out of alignment with reality in Redmond/Bellevue. I hope you can change course on this (like you usually do - hello WPC and Cloud Tracks, commission models, etc.) in time to save Microsoft before you are totally irrelevant to both consumers (Microsoft is pretty much already irrelevant here) as well as Enterprise customers and especially partners. You sell plenty of ugly "Geek" T-shirts and swag in your company store, it's time to stop thinking you are too cool to wear the shirts and use the swag. Be the Geek, own the mistakes, stop the bleeding, re-focus on what makes $ense, earn back the respect and dedication of your partner channel and change course and save this sinking ship folks. Smart partners know the wreck is going down, and we will get out before you drown...

  • If you have a thriving Cloud ecosystem, you didn't build that, your partners did. If you have shiny new datacenters all over the planet, you didn't build those, your partners did. If you like your partner program, you can keep it.

  • How will the transition of licenses be handled? Our portal show 250 most of which are unused. Will that number to automatically reduced and other benefits appear in our O36 portal?

  • How is this changing MAPS? What is Microsoft going to provide to justify this HUGE price increase? What exactly is the structure of MAPS going to be to one justify this HUGE price increase or for that matter even the old price? Since MAPS changed the language awhile back and took away the perpetual license as long as you renewed meaning I can't run the Win7 desktops that my customers do what am I going to get in MAPS 2014 that I want to spend $329 on let alone almost $500!?

  • Amy, The Internal Use Rights (IUR) allocated to you will be based on your programs status (i.e. MAPs, silver or gold competency) beginning in February. But, you have until June to migrate your tenant from the current Office 365 portal. These license grants will be accessible through your partner membership account after February 24, 2014 (in the same place you currently access your MPN IUR and other program benefits). We will be contacting you with tailored instructions to guide you through the process in the next few weeks or so.

  • James B: MAPs is currently separated by two subscription models – one for solution providers and one for developers. Beginning February 24, 2014, these subscriptions are being overhauled into one robust solution as many partners have more robust and complex practices than in years past. The new Action Pack will have 6 resource centers for partners to tap into, including Application design and development, Hosting, Reselling, Managed services, Professional services and Device design and development. Cloud Internal use rights options will also be added for Action Pack subscribers, among other valuable benefits. Some partners may wish to renew early in effort to save on the price increase which accompanies the enhanced benefits. You can find additional information on upcoming changes to the Microsoft Action Pack in the Disclosure Guide (https://mspartner.microsoft.com/en/us/pages/membership/downloads/microsoft-partner-network-competency-roadmap.aspx) and can contact the MPN Support team (https://mspartner.microsoft.com/en/us/Pages/Support/get-support.aspx) with any related questions.

  • Long time MS Partner: First of all, thank you for being a long-time MS Partner. We value your partnership and your feedback. We started communicating cloud program changes shortly after WPC. Due to partner feedback, the decision was made to simplify and stage out the approach. The cloud programs were created as incubation programs with the intent of enabling partners who began the cloud journey with us early. The integration is a reflection of the maturity of the cloud offerings and is meant to provide you with a single robust program to continue to support your organization. You will have until June to shift your cloud IUR allocations to the MPN model. We will be contacting you to help you do so and assess allocation differences with recommendations of how to solve differences. You can expect these updates in the coming weeks. Moving the cloud IUR to your partner membership account will allow for better management and ease of use. Further, you will still have access to demo accounts outside of these IUR grants. We are currently in the process of revamping your online sales reports and these will be available soon, as well as improvements in managing/assessing your clients' subscriptions. We would like to invite you to explore joining the Microsoft US Partner Yammer group at https://www.yammer.com/msuspartner to ensure you stay apprised of the latest updates pertain to MPN and Cloud programs. Thank you for helping us to identify ways we can improve and the opportunity to develop solutions to answer your needs.

  • 95 percent...: Thank you for providing this feedback and sharing your insights. We will ensure they are shared with the appropriate parties internally.

  • Ain't no love: FY14 partner incentives are currently valid and applicable until the end of September 2014. Microsoft releases updates to our Partner Incentive programs at regular intervals and it is generally around WPC when we announce our changes (additions/ modification) for our next fiscal year. While we have not yet planned beyond September 2014, we can assure partners that we will be making efforts to continue to provide incentives to grow our online services business, even if the shape of that is different than it is today.

  • Nice. Can't believe you guys are screwing cloud partners already. One year in, we've migrated some of our customers, worked through the bugs and glitches, and done our best to smooth out the idiosyncrasies of your platform. And then we get f*cked. Should have expected it from MSFT. Thought you guys had finally turned the corner. Guess not!

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