Microsoft's channel partners have been left in limbo after the software giant announced plans to scrap its programme allowing resellers to provide application services to enterprise customers.
At a recent conference, the firm told a gathering of analysts that its Microsoft Authorised Premier Support (MAPS) programme was in the process of being broken up and replaced with an as yet unspecified scheme designed to help resellers improve services delivery.
Although a replacement isn't expected until June or July, Douglas Hayward, senior analyst at Ovum Holway, said there are a number of ways Microsoft could replace MAPS. "Microsoft is still very open on what it wants to replace MAPS with. The issue is whether channel partners will be certified to deal with the whole Microsoft software portfolio or a just series of single applications," he said.
But Hayward stressed that the move could be positive for Microsoft's channel partners. "This doesn't necessarily mean less services revenues for the channel. If support services from partners improve, the end-user should be willing to pay more for these services. However, resellers will need to invest more in skills and take services more seriously," he said.
Microsoft said in a statement: "We are constantly working on ways to improve our ability to support and serve our customers and partners. Our global support model is a mix between full-time Microsoft staff and outsourced resources to provide flexibility for our volume-driven business."
But Gordon Davies, commercial director at systems integrator Compusys, said the removal of MAPS could be damaging for the channel. "Microsoft is trying to win more business with its own services arm and taking more of it direct, which will make things difficult for partners because the channel is increasingly reliant on services revenue."
He added that the move could also leave the channel unsure about what to expect. "Microsoft has so many programmes that partners are confused. We need clarity and simplicity," he said.
- www.crn.vnunet.com/news/1162300 - www.crn.vnunet.com/news/1162275.
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