‘The real focus for us, or the driver for us, was really the evolution of the business landscape,’ Julie Sanford, Microsoft’s vice president of go-to-market programs and experiences, tells CRN.
Monday marked the start of Microsoft’s Cloud Partner Program and the general availability of six partner designations, replacing Microsoft’s Silver and Gold competencies.
In an interview with CRN, Julie Sanford, Microsoft’s vice president of go-to-market programs and experiences, said that some goals with changing the Microsoft partner program were simplifying how partners work with the Redmond, Wash.-based technology giant and adding more ways for partners to differentiate themselves.
“The real focus for us, or the driver for us, was really the evolution of the business landscape,” Sanford said. “Technology‘s rapidly changing, but I think what’s more acute is how much of a focal point it‘s become for every single partner type in every single industry,” she said.
[RELATED: Here Are The 6 Designations Replacing Microsoft’s Gold And Silver Competencies]
“Our hope is that we work with partners on not only building their expertise within one solution area that helps them build their practice and capability across all solution areas because that‘s really what we feel will differentiate them in the marketplace and us collectively to be able to deliver more business outcomes for our collective customers.”
When asked if she has a message for partners who have had difficulty adapting to all the Microsoft partner program changes this year, Sanford said that she appreciated partners and encouraged them to continue providing feedback to Microsoft.
The company is listening and was adjusting the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program rules before the launch to make sure it set up partners for success with customers, she added.
“Working with all of our partners—regardless of Gold, Silver or as a network member—they all have the opportunity to look at where they are today, build a path to the solutionary designations,” Sanford said.
“And absolutely, we believe that’s the way to build success for them with the investments we’re making across the entire life cycle. And then being able to stack benefits as they move and expand their business across solutions areas if that’s what they desire to do.”
Meanwhile she said, industry-focused designations are in the process of being rolled out. In private preview are designations for financial services, retail, health and life sciences, and sustainability, Sanford said.
The next phase of partner program changes will focus on OEM device support and learning partners, she said.
“Although we‘re focusing across all the partner types, we’ve tried to customize each of the benefits and glide paths to set each of our partner types up for success because the entire ecosystem is just critical to us and our success and delivering to our customers,” she said.
Partners who have met requirements for a designation should receive that designation automatically, according to a Microsoft blog post this week.
Although Silver and Gold badges are gone, partners should continue receiving the benefits they had until their next anniversary date.
On a partner’s first anniversary date after Oct. 3, 2022, partners have the option to renew their benefits. Microsoft does not have a planned end date for renewing legacy benefits.
The first set of designations is aimed at services-led partners, with upcoming industry-focused designations aimed at software builders.
Microsoft’s ISV Success program—the program within the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program meant for ISVs—is still in private preview, with public preview expected “later this year,” according to the tech giant.
Microsoft has launched a training gallery feature for partners to find walking decks, demonstration videos, partner designation benefits guides, frequently asked questions and other resources.
“Through this resource we’re helping ISV partners access benefits to build and publish apps faster, accelerate innovation and reach more customers,” according to Microsoft.
Wade Tyler Millward is an associate editor covering cloud computing and the channel partner programs of Microsoft, IBM, Red Hat, Oracle, Salesforce, Citrix and other cloud vendors. He can be reached at email@example.com.