Microsoft is waiving the first-year partner fee for Silver cloud competencies as part of a flurry of incentives designed to push the channel towards the cloud.
At its Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in Washington this week, the firm set out a handful of new initiatives designed to help it achieve its goal of seeing 40 per cent of its revenue come from cloud sales by 2016.
Gavriella Schuster, the new general manager of Microsoft's worldwide partner group, told the 16,000 partners gathered at the Vision keynote that better integrating cloud within its partner network was essential.
Cloud formed part of the vendor's five-point strategic plan along with big data, mobile, social and – for the first time – security.
As part of the cloud rejig, Microsoft unveiled three new cloud competencies based on Office 365 and Azure. The new Small and Midmarket Cloud Solutions, Cloud Productivity and Cloud Platform badges will better integrate cloud into the channel, Microsoft said, and will replace existing Cloud Accelerate, Cloud Deployment and Azure Circle programmes.
Microsoft is also going to waive first-year partner fees to achieve Silver cloud competencies, which it claims will help free up partner resources. The eligibility requirement for the Silver badge and the new competencies will be based on partner performance instead of qualifications, Schuster added.
"[It will be] based on your ability to drive active usage on Office 365 and Microsoft Azure consumption," she said. "This means that we will still provide you with exams and assessments to enable you to skill up, but the primary measure of your eligibility will be your success with your customers."
Partner programme launch
On top of its cloud offers, Microsoft outlined a new Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) programme which it claims will allow partners to own the entire customer relationship including billing and support.
Microsoft's global channel chief Phil Sorgen (pictured), who opened the keynote address, said Microsoft is handing the power over to the channel.
"This new programme provides our partners with complete control, and ensures our mutual customers can rely on their partner to ensure they're getting the most out of their Microsoft cloud solutions," he said.
He added that the CSP programme will initially apply to Office 365 and Windows Intune before being rolled out across all its cloud services.
The vendor topped off its cloud bonanza by announcing that its Dynamics CRM Online cloud service will be joining the Open licensing price list later this year along with its Azure offering, which it announced a few months ago.
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