Microsoft has unveiled a series of new competencies and business transformation initiatives to help partners adapt to life in the cloud.
During the keynote address on the third day of the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Los Angeles, the firm's chief operating officer Kevin Turner called on partners to get involved with its cloud strategy.
"We only have 42,000 partner companies trained [in the cloud], but we need 642,000 and I want to remind every single one of you that there is a place in the cloud for every single partner type," said Turner.
"There is an opportunity for you to build, tell, sell and support all the cloud services we offer and we invite and [will] drag you, if need be, to come with us on this multi-year journey."
During the same keynote, Jon Roskill (pictured), corporate vice president of Microsoft's worldwide partner group, said the vendor plans to invest $5.8bn (£3.6bn) in its partner ecosystem over this financial year.
Of this sum, $1m is being ploughed into the rollout of instructor-led Business Transformation Workshops, which are aimed at helping partners re-jig their business models for the cloud.
Roskill added that a "significant portion" will also be used to fund a couple of new incentive programmes, including one aimed at partners focused on Microsoft's messaging platform, Lync.
"Our old incentive model rewarded the transactions made and our new one rewards you [partners] across the entire sales cycle," said Roskill. "Like everything we are doing here, this applies to the public cloud, the private cloud and on-premise deals.
"The new Lync Solutions Incentive Programme will increase the incentives for partners that lead with Lync as their chosen communication platform, whether on-premise or in the cloud."
As part of its Lync push, Roskill revealed that the firm will shortly introduce a new Communications competency to its Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) programme.
"Partners investing in VoIP are asking for help from MPN to drive their business and differentiate themselves in the marketplace," he said. "So, we are announcing the new Communications Competency – [which is] the next billion-dollar opportunity for Microsoft."
On the competency point, it was also announced that the programme's Systems Management and Virtualisation competencies will be merged and made available to partners next May.
Speaking to ChannelWeb, Gretchen O'Hara, director of the worldwide partner group at Microsoft, said the latter was geared towards accelerating the growth of its private cloud activities.
"We are making a huge investment and bet on the private cloud, with demand generation and advertising campaigns," he said.
"We announced the new [Systems Management and Virtualisation] competency that is geared towards helping partners get very specific around the private cloud, and to support the advances we are making with our private cloud technology."
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