As hundreds of Microsoft partners fight to keep hold of their Gold accreditation, the software giant has stressed the channel shake-up will allow VARs to demonstrate their skills more effectively.
The new-look Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) launches in earnest next month, more than a year after the vendor announced its intention to overhaul its channel programme for the first time in seven years.
Audits to assess UK partners will take place in the coming months and, for the first time, top-level partners will be required to negotiate and meet a revenue commitment.
The new model is based on technology-specific Gold and Silver competencies. To obtain a Gold competency, partners will need four engineers devoted to that specialisation. The old model incorporates just the catch-all Certified and Gold levels, with 700 UK partners sitting on the top tier.
Clare Barclay, director of partner strategy and programmes at Microsoft UK, said trimming the number of Gold partners had not been the vendor’s aim, but would be a by-product of raising the certification bar.
“Feedback from partners indicated they wanted Microsoft to differentiate them more and, if they were specialised, they wanted to be able to show this,” she said.
As part of the programme overhaul, large account resellers (LARs) and distributors will be housed in the partner programme. Barclay added that one of MPN’s tenets is to encourage partner collaboration.
“There is an increasing requirement for LARs to partner with systems integrators,” she said.
Richard Eglon, marketing manager at Gold partner Comms-care, welcomed the changes. He said the competency structure would prevent the Gold badge from being devalued.
“This will get rid of the chaff, those that have just been hanging on to their Gold partner status,” he said.
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