Microsoft has decided to take its plans to overhaul its partner network more slowly after resellers told it that it was moving too fast.
In the summer at its Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in Houston, Microsoft announced a flurry of changes to the Microsoft Partner Network, including the retirement of cloud training tools Cloud Accelerate (CA) and Cloud Essentials (CE). It said as it makes its shift to becoming a devices and services firm, the duo were no longer necessary as it was looking to integrate cloud within most of its competencies from next year.
All of the changes were meant to come into play in January, but, in a message to partners sent this week, Microsoft said it was taking a slower approach to the move than it originally planned.
Julie Bennani, general manager of Microsoft's partner network, said partners had been keen to provide feedback on its plans and assured resellers she was listening.
"Since WPC we received a lot of feedback that more time was needed to prepare for cloud mainstreaming and that we must approach these changes more simply – both were core to this decision," she said on a blog, adding that the new strategy was a "simpler, more measured approach".
The changes that were set to come in at the start of 2014 will now be split into two stages: one that will commence in February and another later in the third calendar quarter of 2014.
The first batch of changes will see all partners – not just those on the soon-to-be-axed CE and CA plans – granted internal use rights on cloud services like Office 365, Azure and CRM Online.
February will also see CE retired for good as well as the launch of two new competencies: an Intelligent Systems badge, which will enable partners to become certified in the Internet of Things, and one in Digital Marketing. A flurry of exam updates will also be introduced early next year as well as revamped Microsoft Action Packs (MAPs), which will feature more cloud integration and training.
At around the end of Q3, cloud programme CA will be retired along with similar programmes Cloud Deployment and Azure Circles. Partners wanting to join these programmes from now until they are retired will be allowed, the vendor said.
At the same time, its Server Platform, Management and Virtualisation competency and its Identity and Access badge will merge to become a single 'Datacentre' competency instead.
Another competency change is on the cards for Q3, with Microsoft's Business Intelligence badge becoming Data Analytics instead – a move Microsoft said signals increased emphasis on big data. Its Mobility badge will also bite the dust in the second wave of changes, being replaced with either the Application Development or Devices and Deployment competencies instead.
The final change in the second phase of the overhaul will see its Hosting certification retired, with hosting tracks to be included in its new Data Analytics and Datacentre, Messaging and Communications badges instead.
Microsoft urged partners that need more details to get in touch via its MPN portal, and Bennani added that partners are Microsoft's best asset.
"Our partner ecosystem has always been and continues to be our greatest asset and differentiator in the market, and, as a company, we are committed to working closely with our partners to bring the next wave of devices and services to market," she said.
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