Microsoft's Small Business Specialist Community (SBSC) has given the vendor's plans to offer partners an SMB-focused certification a cautious welcome.
The vendor released a statement on Friday announcing plans to introduce a Small Business Competency to the Microsoft Partner Network by June 2012.
The competency will be aimed at Microsoft VARs that want to specialise in selling the firm's products to the small business community, replacing its incumbent SBSC partner designation.
In the statement, Microsoft said the SBSC will co-exist alongside the new competency for six months before it becomes a less formal "MPN partner-to-partner community."
"The competency will co-exist with the Cloud Essentials, Cloud Accelerate and the Mid-Market Competency," the statement added.
Andy Trish, managing director of Microsoft SBSC member NCI Technologies, claimed he first heard about the new competency six months ago, but still had no idea what the requirements are.
"I wholeheartedly agree that SBSC needs a valuable programme that guides them into growth and helps its members to become profitable. It also has to be implemented fairly, with the other competencies in mind, to make it valuable," Trish told ChannelWeb.
Richard Tubb, a Microsoft SBSC Partner Area Lead (PAL), described SBSC as a valuable resource for the firm's smaller partners to collaborate and share ideas.
"The SBSC programme is considered by many partners to be the perfect way for smaller partners and one-man shops to engage with Microsoft on a level that they find useful," added Tubb.
Janet Gibbons, director of partner strategy and programmes at Microsoft, said the vendor is well aware of how important SBSC is to the vendor's smaller partners.
"The competency will help us drive growth in the UK channel and develop the cloud business our partners can offer to SMBs [and] will enable partners to have better cloud conversations," she said in a statement.
"We know that our partners value the Small Business Specialist Programme, so we will aim to provide a smooth transition so partners can adapt to this change effortlessly."
At the time of writing, ChannelWeb was awaiting a response from Microsoft about what partners will need to do to qualify for the new competency.
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