As of today (October 3rd, 2022), Microsoft has made some pretty radical changes to the Microsoft Partner Program. As of today, the Silver and Gold Partner awards are gone and are the logos are no longer valid to be shown to customers. Starting today Microsoft is introducing the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program. Instead of the Silver and Gold awards, the new program has 6 different solution areas. Those focus areas are Data & AI, Infrastructure, Digital & App Innovation, Business Applications, Modern Work, and Security.
The Changes in the Partner Program
The first thing that you’ll notice about those is that they all have an Azure slant. This is because the new program is VERY Azure-focused and relies on you as a partner showing continued growth in the Azure cloud. Don’t forget, it is called the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program after all.
Many Microsoft partners which were Silver or Gold partners until the prior program will not meet the requirements of the new Microsoft Cloud Partner Program. When a company is able to meet the requirements for the new program it can be assumed that the company is very well versed in the Microsoft Azure platform, specifically the features of the Azure platform in which their Solutions Partner designation is.
DCAC and our Microsoft Partner Status
For DCAC’s knowledge of the Microsoft Azure platform, we have achieved two Microsoft Solutions Partner designations which are the Data & AI designation as well as the Infrastructure designation.
Obtaining these designations isn’t something that the DCAC team took lightly. The day that the changes were announced (which was about 6 months ago) we reviewed the certification requirements, figured out which certification exams we needed members of the team to pass, and figured out which team members were going to take which ones. The end result of this was that we were able to easily pass the requirements for both the Data & AI designation and the Infrastructure designation.
The six Microsoft Solutions Partner designations all require more than just passing certification exams in order to meet the requirements. The harder requirements are the growth within the Microsoft Azure platform. In order to meet the designations, you need to gain 1-3 new Microsoft Azure customers per year. In addition, you need to have deployed between 1 and 5 Microsoft Azure components per year (with 1-3 new clients per year this isn’t that hard). The hardest requirement is that you have to show between one and twenty percent growth in your customers’ Microsoft Azure spending since the twelve months prior. This growth number is going to be tricky for smaller Microsoft Partners as that number is going to get harder and harder to hit.
If you fail to meet any one of those three each year, then the partner will lose their Cloud Partner designations. And the minimums just won’t do. The program is based on a points system and you need at least 70 points with at least one point coming from each category. So you can skimp on a few people being certified, but that means that your growth numbers have to be towards the maximum end of the available spectrum.
For a lot of companies, this is going to be a problem.
Not Making The Cut
I’ve spoken to a lot of current Microsoft Partners online and in some focus groups. And I’ve heard from a lot of them that they will not be able to meet the requirements of the new program. And some of these people work at larger shops with 100-150 people at the company. The certification requirements are hard as these aren’t the easiest Microsoft certification exams to pass (I’d know, I’ve passed several of them as part of this process).
Working With Some of the Best
At DCAC, we are always interested in taking on new projects in the Data & AI world or the Azure world. If you have projects that are coming up, we would love to speak with you about these projects. Just contact our sales team and we will get back to you as soon as we can.