Microsoft has unveiled its new partnering strategy designed to bring application service providers (ASPs) and independent software vendors (ISVs) together.
The new Microsoft Certified Partner programme will be officially launched in January, replacing the existing and similarly named Microsoft Certified Solutions Provider scheme.
Stephen Uden, head of partner marketing at the software giant, explained that the initiative aims to bring together its global partners. "It will bring all our partner activities under one roof in an umbrella strategy that works for everyone. We have one partner website and one front line. A single database is driving all our portals," he said.
Successful ASPs and ISVs will be certified under the scheme, which includes an advanced endorsement known as Gold Certification. Split into four different categories - commercial partners, enterprise systems partners, support partners and hosting partners - the standard is a tool for customers and end users to know that each partner has been rigorously examined and audited by Microsoft.
"The ASP market is still very embryonic. Gold Certification allows a higher confidence in this growing market," said Uden.
Sean O'Reilly, vice president of marketing at NetStore, one of the first ASPs to be awarded the certification, said: "We were surprised by the depth of the examinations. Everything was audited from our management process, to control mechanism and resellers' contracts. It's an in-depth protection of Microsoft."
NetStore expects the scheme to be encouraging for larger resellers.
David Atherton, managing director at NetStore reseller Dabs, said: "It will make resellers that sell strongly in shrink-wrap and licensing think about moving into the ASP market. But if you do not sell more on these products, then you will not sell greatly on ASPs."
First published in Computer Reseller News
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