Some 16,000 attendees, 75 plus Kiwi partners and one very clear message from Microsoft - let's win together in a mobile-first, cloud-first world.
At the 2014 Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington, D.C., the software giant's agenda did not surprise, but for partners hell-bent on business growth, Microsoft's roadmap for 2014 and beyond is now officially on the table.
"Putting partners first in our go-to-market strategy has always been key to our joint success, and it will continue to be a priority in today’s mobile-first, cloud-first world," says Phil Sorgen, Corporate Vice President, Worldwide Partner Group, speaking following this morning's Vision Keynote.
Through several announcements designed put "partners at the centre of customer cloud adoption", as Sorgen puts it, Microsoft has bold plans to guide partner transitions to the cloud.
Revealed to a packed Washington crowd, Microsoft are integrating the cloud into the Microsoft Partner Network, with three new cloud-focused competencies based on performance for Office 365 and Microsoft Azure.
The new competencies are:
•Small and Midmarket Cloud Solutions: For partners selling Microsoft Office 365 to small and mid-market customers.
•Cloud Productivity: For partners deploying Microsoft Office 365 for enterprise customers.
•Cloud Platform: For partners who specialize in delivering infrastructure, PaaS and SaaS solutions on Microsoft Azure
Along with the announcements this morning, Microsoft will also retire the Cloud Accelerate, Cloud Deployment and Azure Circle programs, a move which Sorgen believes will provide a path for partners to migrate to the new cloud competencies.
The company is also changing its competencies to make it easier for partners to invest more in their business and plan to do this in four ways:
1.Waiving the first year fee for Silver cloud competencies
2.Enhancing Internal Use Rights for Office 365 and Azure, providing between 25% and 200% more IUR licenses depending on the competency level achieved
3.Signature Cloud Support is our exclusive support solution that helps cloud partners better support their customers. Launching in September, Signature Cloud Support provides partners with direct contact into a high-quality support team.
4.To enable partners to continue to make the investments necessary to succeed in the cloud, we also announced that we are reducing the fees for on-premises competencies by up to 10%.
"To meet the growing demand of our cloud-based solutions, it is essential that we continue to evolve our partner programs and licensing models to make it easier for partners and customers to purchase, deploy and use Microsoft solutions," Sorgen adds.
The Microsoft Cloud Solutions Provider program allows partners to own 100 percent of the customer lifecycle, with partners serving as the only contact for all customer needs, including: billing, provisioning, support and, most importantly, the ability to sell their own tools, products and services.
"This new program provides our partners with complete control, and ensures our mutual customers can rely on their partner to ensure they’re getting the most out of their Microsoft cloud solutions."
Microsoft says the program starts with Office 365 and Windows Intune, and will eventually cover all Microsoft cloud services.
According to Sorgen, customer adoption of Microsoft Azure continues to accelerate, with an average of more than 1,000 customers signing up every day.
Building on some 5,000 partner apps and services running or ready for use on Azure today, Microsoft also announced the Azure Certified program.
"This new logo certification program will empower Microsoft partners to grow their business through new opportunities to promote and sell their applications and services on Azure," Sorgen adds.
"Today the program begins as Microsoft Azure Certified for Virtual Machines, with partner applications offered in virtual machines that are deployable from the Azure Management Portal."
Cloud = money...
"We’ve shown that partners can build profitable business models with the cloud," Sorgen adds.
"Today's announcements take steps to make it more valuable, less expensive and easier for partners to do business with Microsoft and together we have a unique opportunity to help customers embrace the mobile-first, cloud first world with a differentiated vision for the future."