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MPN Change Delay Includes Rethink of Cloud Approach

In mid-November, Microsoft's new channel chief Phil Sorgen e-mailed partners with a surprise delay in many of the planned updates to the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN). A host of changes to Microsoft's core partner program had been scheduled to go into effect in January.

Now many of the changes are being delayed until February and more are being held back until an unspecified date in the third calendar quarter of 2014. After Sorgen's e-mail, MPN General Manager Julie Bennani revealed in a blog post that Microsoft had rethought its plans to create cloud tracks for many of the competencies. 

We put some questions to Microsoft about the MPN changes, and received an e-mail response from Bennani. Here's the exchange:

Bekker: Are these moves a timing issue, allowing both Microsoft and partners more time to make necessary adjustments, or is there some rethinking going on about whether or not to do some of the changes that were announced in July? Why delay the integration of cloud into competency tracks?
Bennani: This change is based on partner feedback to allow both adequate time for preparing for the changes and improvements of the Microsoft Partner Network, as well as a modified design approach. We believe partners will benefit greatly from an improved partner portal experience and from more flexible ways to manage benefits. This includes cloud integration into the competencies, which is a simpler way for partners to secure benefits that does not involve creating separate cloud and on-premises tracks, but instead enables all partners to offer hybrid solutions.

On what date will Cloud Essentials sign-ups end? On what date will all Cloud Essentials internal use rights (IUR) benefits expire?
Net new enrollment into Cloud Essentials will stop with the February 2014 release. Cloud IUR rights for existing Cloud Essentials partners will extend until June 30, 2014 -- at that time, all partners must transition into either the new Microsoft Action Pack subscriptions (MAPs) or a competency to continue to use our Cloud IUR.

On hosting, was there pushback to the changes from hosters -- and if so, was it about the nature of the changes or was it about timing?
Retiring the Hosting competency and introducing solution-oriented hosting tracks has been well received by hosting partners. Per hosting partner feedback, the current Hosting competency does not effectively support their needs. In order to better meet their needs -- as well as to give partners more time to get ready -- we will offer unique hosting tracks within the following core competencies: Datacenter, Messaging, Communications and Data Analytics. This allows us to recognize hosters more precisely for the solution/service offered while introducing requirements and benefits that are more relevant and tailored.

Is Microsoft considering doing a Hosting Competency in parallel with hosting tracks in other competencies, or will it be one or the other?
Hosting tracks will replace the Hosting competency in Q3 2014.

Is Microsoft still planning to take the six Resource Center approach with the Microsoft Action Pack Subscription?
Yes.

On the competency renamings and consolidations that are now delayed from January, are they still in the plan or is Microsoft reconsidering those changes?
The plan has not changed. We are delaying the implementation to give partners more time to prepare for the changes.

Was the Small Business Specialist Community formally retired in November as indicated in the July MPN disclosure document?
Yes.

Any updates on the new small business community detailed on p. 7 of the disclosure guide, which read, "Plans are also being finalized to provide a partner-to-partner community for small business focused partners in January 2014"?
The Small & Medium Business Partner Area Leads (SMC PALs) communities are in place and thriving, and we look forward to continued engagement with this important group moving ahead.

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Posted by Scott Bekker on December 02, 2013 at 10:31 AM


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