Microsoft Names 2 Master VARs: SBS Group and Socius1 (UPDATED)

Microsoft on Monday formally announced two of the three Microsoft Dynamics Master VARs for the United States: SBS Group and Socius1, LLC.

Microsoft defines the program as an opportunity for smaller Dynamics partners to align with a well-capitalized, growth-oriented Microsoft Dynamics partner that has been selected by Microsoft as a Master VAR. The effort coincides with controversial changes on the Dynamics side of the Microsoft Partner Network to focus more attention on large, fast-growing partners, both by making program requirements more stringent and by steering Microsoft resources toward the larger partners.

Microsoft had originally planned to announce the three Master VARs for the United States on Sept. 1. Microsoft launched the program on Sept. 30, but did not name any of the Master VARs until Monday when the announcement was posted on PartnerSource, Microsoft's portal for Dynamics partners.

"One additional Master VAR is being evaluated and will be announced shortly if selected," the PartnerSource post stated. "Capacity for Master VARs is currently filled but will be reviewed on an annual basis."

UPDATED NOV. 17: Microsoft has named Florida-based Tribridge as the third Master VAR. Read the story here.

To be considered as a Master VAR, a nationally focused Dynamics partner needed to meet several requirements, including having at least $1 million in operating capital; having no less than $500,000 in gross license revenue recognized by Microsoft in the preceding 12 months; assuming legal liability for the work done under its brand by its affiliates; and making the commitment to drive the certification, operations, support, marketing and SEO for its national brand, under which its sales affiliates would operate.

Woodbridge, N.J.-based SBS Group, which issued a news release about its selection as a Master VAR on Monday, will add the sales affiliate program to the SBS Group's Partner Network (SPN) that already has 16 regional offices.

"Over the past 18 months, we've developed the SPN to meet the needs of Dynamics' Partners who want to succeed in building their business and delivering exceptional customer service," said James R. Bowman Jr., president and CEO of SBS Group, in a statement. "We expand their solution portfolio, vertical expertise, and reduce their operating costs. We enable them to continue to server their clients and their increasingly complex needs.

"It is a win-win program for everyone. We believe this is the future of partnering in the Dynamics channel," Bowman said.

Socius, based in Cincinnati, did not make a statement about its selection on Monday, but the company had posted a form for Dynamics partners interested in becoming Socius Sales Affiliates.

Accompanying the form was a supporting quote from Microsoft Director of ERP Partner Strategy Jeff Edwards, who is in charge of the Master VAR program.

"We have been working closely with [Socius] to ensure the partner model they are creating supports and drives the Microsoft goals of partner specialization, scale and profitable growth. We are focused on supporting models that offer real centralized scale in terms of marketing, branding, support and operations. The [Socius] team has the right set of objectives and demonstrated success in creating profitable partner organizations in the midmarket business applications segment," the Edwards statement said.

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About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.