Quick Facts: What To Know About the New Microsoft Cloud Partner Program

What's a partner capability score? How will the old MPN competencies be converted? Here's what we know so far about the biggest overhaul to Microsoft's partner program in over a decade.

Microsoft on Wednesday announced the first major revamp of its partner program in over a decade. This October, the current Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) will become the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program, a change that Microsoft argues will better position its partners to meet the needs of an increasingly cloud-reliant, digitized customer base.

Among the changes coming to existing MPN partners will be the retirement of Gold and Silver competencies, the launch of new technology-specific "solutions partner" badges, and the addition of a new scoring system (dubbed the partner capability score, or PCS) that will quantify a partner's expertise in their chosen field.

Solutions Partner Designations vs. Competencies
The PCS takes into account a partner's number of new customers, their number of certifications (intermediate and advanced), their number of deployments and overall usage growth. All partners get a PCS; as of Wednesday, partners can view their current PCS on their Partner Center dashboard and see how close they are to attaining a designation.

Partners with a PCS of 70 or higher (out of 100) in one of the following six technology areas earn a solutions partner designation in that area:

  • Data & AI (Azure)
  • Infrastructure (Azure)
  • Digital & App Innovation (Azure)
  • Business Applications
  • Modern Work
  • Security

Microsoft's rubric for determining a partner's PCS by technology area is shown below:

[Click on image for larger view.] Source: Microsoft Cloud Partner Program overview deck.

How Old Competencies Roll Over
The table below shows how a partner's current MPN competencies will translate in the new Microsoft Cloud Partner Program:

Old MPN Competency Solutions Partner Category in the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program
• Cloud Platform
• Datacenter
Infrastructure (Azure)
• App Integration
• Data Analytics
• Data Platform
Data & AI (Azure)
• Application Development
• App Integration
• DevOps
Digital & App Innovation (Azure)
• Cloud Productivity
• Collaboration and Content
• Communications
• Messaging
• Small and Midmarket Cloud Solutions
• Windows and Devices
Modern Work
• Enterprise Mobility Management
• Security
• Cloud Business Applications
• Enterprise Resource Planning
• Project Porftolio Management
Business Applications

Source: Microsoft

After achieving a solutions partner designation, partners can tap specialization programs to differentiate themselves even more. There are advanced specializations, listed here, for the areas of Azure, Business Applications, Modern Work and Security.

Microsoft will officially flip the switch on the new Microsoft Cloud Partner Program on Oct. 3.

Current MPN partners have until Sept. 30 to renew their legacy competencies -- not for the badges, which will be retired after that date, but for the continued benefits, such as internal use rights (IURs). Legacy competency benefits will expire at the end of the partner's next anniversary date, unless they pay for continued benefits beyond that.

Starting Oct. 3, partners that qualify for a solutions partner designation will receive new program badges.

About the Author

Gladys Rama (@GladysRama3) is the editorial director of Converge360.