Watch Out, I'm a Partner Now
Now that anyone can register to become a Microsoft Partner, how does that affect the partner community?
- By Scott Bekker
- January 01, 2006
Nov. 18 was a big day for me; I became a Registered Member of the Microsoft
Partner Program. The question is whether that's a good thing for you.
Coworkers and even a Microsoft employee in the Partner Group had been
urging me to sign up since taking the helm of Redmond Channel Partner
about a month before. I've been covering Microsoft for seven years, but
mostly on the product and IT end-user side, so I'd never had a reason
to register as a partner.
Unlike, I hope, many of you, I didn't have a flunky to do the registration
for me. I had to do it the new economy way, myself and online. Overall,
I found the process fairly painless. Oh sure, it required me to generate
yet another hated Microsoft Passport account. I use the things rarely
and always for some Microsoft program or other. Invariably, I forget my
password and the e-mail address I used the last time and end up having
to set up a new account. I also ran into your standard online problem
of having the registration form hang after I'd entered the maximum amount
of information, leaving me in limbo.
But enough of my petty whining. The Microsoft Partner Program asked me good questions about my expertise and business interests, and some of the user interface options were nice, especially being able to associate with an existing partner organization. (I was too impatient to use this option. I think Redmond Channel Partner is now a partner twice over.) The whole process was quick and easy.
Registering felt a little sneaky to me, but I guess it's OK. First, it's
a journalistic exercise — necessary research for the job. And, even
though Redmond Channel Partner (RCP) isn't peddling Microsoft software
directly, we are supporting Microsoft partners as an advocate. I'd say
that gives us a legitimate role in this community.
Let me rephrase the question I started with. Of course I think RCP is
good for other partners. I hope you agree and make us better by communicating
your ideas with us regularly. What I really wonder is whether it's good
for existing partners that Microsoft has made it so easy for others to
become new partners.
There are about 10 times as many partners in the Microsoft Partner Program now as there were in late 2003, when Microsoft introduced the free Registered Member level. As Directions on Microsoft analyst Paul DeGroot pointed out in his column in the November issue, the numbers of Certified and Gold Certified Partners are largely unchanged in that timeframe.
The benefits to Microsoft from having all these new partners are clear. Mainly, Microsoft has contact information to convert the best of those organizations to Certified or Gold Certified status.
If Microsoft can spur some of those Registered Members into more valuable
relationships, it could lead to more fruitful relationships among all
partners. On the other hand, I watched the Microsoft Certification program
struggle under the weight of a glut of Microsoft Certified Systems Engineers
a few years ago. Many MCSEs felt that a crop of so-called "paper
MCSEs" diluted the value of their certifications.
What's your experience been during this period of expansion in the Microsoft
partner universe? Have all those new non-certified partners made your
partner status less valuable, raised the profile of the Microsoft Partner
Program or impacted the market not a whit? I'd like to hear from you at
Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.