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Microsoft To Recognize 2nd, 3rd and 4th Partners in Cloud Engagements

Microsoft on Thursday announced tweaks to its internal systems to recognize more partners for the work they do to help customers get to the cloud in customer engagements where more than one partner is involved.

Over the last year, Microsoft has urged partners to work together to get customers actively using more of the eligible workloads within their cloud subscriptions, such as the less-used Yammer and Skype components of an Office 365 subscription. Lighting up those workloads is a priority for Microsoft as a corporation, with some in the investment community noting the risk to the company if customers don't perceive value in their cloud bundles and cancel their subscriptions.

However, even as it urges partners to cooperate, Microsoft's internal systems only recognize partners in a winner-take-all way. In the Digital Partner of Record process that has been fully in place since July, there is only room for one partner.

The moves announced Thursday will not change one critically important element: Incentives will still only be paid to the one partner who is the Digital Partner of Record, a designation given by the customer to an eligible partner from within Microsoft's customer portal.

There are other boons to be handed out, though. Microsoft wants to measure partners' services capacity and to track how many seats partners are involved with for the purpose of advancing a partner to a gold competency.

That last element could be difficult for a partner specializing in something like Yammer where they are the third or fourth partner involved with a customer, are paid directly by the customer, and therefore fly far below the Partner of Record radar.

"We've run into a challenge where in many situations there are actually multiple partners helping the same customer because of the number of workloads in Office 365," said Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group General Manager Gavriella Schuster in a telephone interview. "We got a lot of feedback from partners, not necessarily where incentives were concerned, but much more where earning the competency was concerned. They couldn't earn the competency even though they were helping partners because they were the secondary or even the third partner in the same customer."

Now Microsoft plans to use proof from several of its other systems to count seats on behalf of partners for competency purposes. Schuster said Microsoft will now also use:

  • Records from Microsoft sales for the transacting partner of Enterprise Agreements and Open licenses
  • The Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) Commerce Platform
  • Conversations with Microsoft employees in the Microsoft FastTrack Onboarding Center
  • Delegated Admin Privileges per workload

While the new procedures and integration of back-end systems should be fully up and running later this quarter or in April, Schuster said that Microsoft will begin counting seats toward partner competency targets as of the announcement Thursday.

Posted by Scott Bekker on January 14, 2016 at 3:06 PM