Channel Call

Leveraging the MPN for Cloud Channels

In my last few columns, I've been discussing several topics around cloud technologies, from the types of channels you can create or leverage to the ins and outs of making sales work with a cloud channel.

Recently I started diving into the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN).

Mind you, I'm by no means an expert on the new program, but I noticed a few changes that should be significant for each partner.

There are two basic types of cloud channels: ones you create around your own product or service, and cloud channels that you leverage. Microsoft Cloud Partner (Microsoftcloudpartner.com) is set up to accommodate both of these scenarios. In fact, when you go to the site, you immediately get two choices of entry: "Sell & Service" or "Build & Develop." When it comes to marketing, you should leverage everything either scenario has to offer.

Microsoft has set up very distinct and achievable requirements that complement the MPN. Partners who are "in the cloud" can get specific help with sales, services and marketing. This is key to accelerating your growth as a reseller. With Microsoft Cloud Essentials, you have access to marketing resources and marketplace participation, which invariably elevates you in the eyes of those customers and partners looking for a cloud-savvy partner. For marketing, the tools will make it easier to push out your message than if you try to do it all yourself.

Selling also becomes easier because of the access to online sales tools (which allow you to model your cloud business) and pre-sales and technical support resources (which allow you to not trip over yourself technically). Topping it off, you'll have a plethora of training vehicles to get you up to speed, technically and on sales. You also get access to internal use licenses, which are important as you start taking your solutions into the market.

What I find really refreshing is Microsoft Cloud Accelerate. I've always been a proponent for providing highly committed partners with more. Microsoft Cloud Accelerate does just that. It's intended for the most cloud-committed partners, plain and simple. Partners' commitments here are either online services sales or a Windows Azure platform-tested application, along with other requirements, such as cloud customer references. Again, for the true ins and outs of the program, contact Microsoft directly. I personally like this stuff from the perspective that if you can elevate yourself within the Microsoft partner program, you can inevitably grow your revenues because you have more access to more resources. So, when it comes to marketing, the more access you have means a greater likelihood that you'll generate more leads -- especially in the cloud arena with the Cloud Accelerate programs. Take a look at some of the benefits, and you'll see what I mean:

  • 20 additional partner-advisory support hours to apply to development and deployment of cloud solutions
  • Delegated administrative privileges provide you the ability to support your customers by acting as the administrator for individuals where you're the partner of record
  • Local subsidiary contact
  • Non-disclosure agreement cloud roadmap gives insight into the future of the business
  • Unlimited pre-sales and compete support for cloud deals

Keep in mind that the programs are only one part of the equation. They are the tools. What you make of the tools is up to you; joining alone won't guarantee success. Hard work and diligence along with the programs put in place by Microsoft will dramatically increase your odds of success.

Take a look at these components of the revamped MPN. If you're serious about marketing your cloud services, the new programs from Microsoft may help.

Next Time: Marketing in a Cloud

About the Author

Keith Lubner is managing partner of Channel Consulting Corp., a N.J.-based global consulting organization focused on channel strategy, design, enablement, outsourcing and training for growing companies.