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New MPN Competencies, Action Packs Take Effect

The slow rollout of the new Microsoft Partner Network passed a milestone today with the launch of the new competency structure and the new Action Packs.

Any partner with a Microsoft competency and specialization under the old system was supposed to be automatically transitioned into a new competency, with an e-mail notification. For some partners, the new competency name won't be much of a change. For example, the Security Solutions competency with a specialization in Identity & Secure Access will now go by the competency name Identity and Security. The ISV competency goes to, wait for it, ISV. For others, though, the new competency name is a lot different. Partners with the competency/specialization combo of Information Worker Solutions/Office Solutions Development are now in the Portals and Collaboration competency.

Even for those with big changes in the name of their competency, the difference is purely between Microsoft and partners for now. All competency benefits stay the same until a wider set of changes in October. Similarly, partners are supposed to continue using their previous competency logos for now, as well.

The really controversial changes to the competency structure occur in October. At the same time as new benefits are launched, Microsoft will introduce the advanced competency structure. Small- to mid-size partners have been especially concerned about those changes, which will eliminate the Gold Certified Partner level and will require partners to have unique engineers dedicated to each competency for the advanced level. For example, a partner looking to get an advanced competency in both Business Intelligence and Data Platform won't be able to share engineers for both competencies. Not a big deal for the Avanades of the world, but a gating factor for five-to-20-person partner shops.

Also today, new subscription programs go into effect. Microsoft is ending the current Microsoft Action Pack Subscription (MAPS), a massive program with a huge and mostly adoring fan base. As of today, there are two new versions of the Action Pack: The Action Pack Solution Provider subscription and the Action Pack Development and Design subscription. Microsoft is also ending the much smaller but also highly regarded Empower for ISV programs.

Posted by Scott Bekker on May 24, 2010


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