WASHINGTON – Microsoft kicked off its Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) 2014 with an invitation to partners to leverage the new cloud solutions and programs that Microsoft continues to turn out as it transitions into a mobile-first, cloud-first company.
With more than 16,000 in attendance at the event here, Microsoft announced it is making significant new investments in its channel ecosystem, including a new Cloud Solution Provider program as well as other cloud-related offerings.
The Cloud Solution Provider Program enables partners to engage at every part of the customer lifecycle. Indeed, Microsoft said partners will serve as the main point of contact for all customer needs, including billing, provisioning, support and the ability to sell their own tools, products and services with every Office 365 subscription. This new program provides partners with increased opportunities and ensures that customers can rely on their dedicated strategic partner to get the most out of Office 365, Windows InTune and eventually other Microsoft cloud solutions.
Microsoft also announced that it has added Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online to its Microsoft Open Licensing Programs. This means that small business and mid-market customers will be able to gain access to the full suite of Microsoft Online Services in a way that fits their current engagement with their partner or service provider. This represents a major opportunity for Microsoft distributors and resellers who will be able to transact Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online to their existing and new customers through the licensing model they are used to. Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online in Open Licensing will be available later this fiscal year, the company said.
Moreover, Microsoft Azure will be available via the Open Licensing program beginning on August 1, making it easier for partners to build a profitable cloud business. This provides partners with a familiar licensing option that offers the benefits of Microsoft Volume Licensing, flexible monetary payments, and additional opportunities to grow revenues and deepen customer relationships.
Microsoft also announced a new Azure Certified logo certification program that will empower Microsoft partners to grow their business through new opportunities to promote and sell their applications and services on Azure. The program includes co-marketing assistance, a listing on the Azure website and access to the Azure customer base via placement in the Azure Management Portal.
The program begins as Microsoft Azure Certified for Virtual Machines, with partner applications offered in virtual machines that are deployable from the Azure Management Portal. Early program members include Azul Systems, Barracuda, Bitrock, Oracle, Riverbed Technologies and SAP.
Microsoft Brings Partners Further Into Its Cloud Fold
In addition, Microsoft announced the Azure Machine Learning University, which offers online step-by-step instruction to help partners get started on working with Machine Learning. Azure Machine Learning will help partners build advanced analytic cloud services for their customers in minutes and hours, eliminating much of the heavy lifting associated with deploying machine learning in modern data-driven applications. Other news announced today includes Office 365 for customer onboarding and Signature Cloud Support.
“One of the things that makes Azure unique is the breadth of the partners who are now integrating with it, and it’s great to see both a lot of our longstanding partners on this slide, as well as partners you might not expect in the past, such as Oracle, Salesforce and Linux distributions,” said Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise group, during the kickoff keynote at WPC. “The cloud provides an even bigger opportunity for all of us to partner together and deliver more value to our collective customers.”
To better help partners serve our mutual customers in the cloud, Microsoft announced it is integrating the cloud into the Microsoft Partner Network, with three new cloud-focused competencies based on performance for Office 365 and Microsoft Azure, said Phil Sorgen, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Group, in a blog post.
The new competencies are: Small and Midmarket Cloud Solutions, for partners selling Microsoft Office 365 to small and mid-market customers; Cloud Productivity, for partners deploying Microsoft Office 365 for enterprise customers; and Cloud Platform, for partners who specialize in delivering infrastructure, PaaS and SaaS solutions on Microsoft Azure. Meanwhile, Microsoft will retire the Cloud Accelerate, Cloud Deployment and Azure Circle programs and provide a path for partners to migrate to the new cloud competencies.
Also, to help partners transact Dynamics CRM Online will be coming to Open licensing later this fiscal year. Together with the evolution of the Dynamics partner program to emphasize readiness and training, the addition of Dynamics CRM Online to Open will make it easier to sell to SMBs – a huge market opportunity for our partners, Sorgen said.
“This comes on the heels of our announcement to offer Azure in Open, coming in August,” he said. “By offering all of our commercial cloud solutions in Open partners have a consistent and familiar licensing option that offers the benefits of Microsoft Volume Licensing, flexible monetary payments, and additional opportunities to grow revenues and deepen customer relationships.”
In addition, Microsoft will help partners better reach and target small and midsized business prospects with a new marketing initiative called ModernBiz. With the goal to help partners more easily drive awareness and demand in the US and worldwide, ModernBiz focuses on business issues and cross-product solution scenarios tailored to the specific needs of SMBs.