Microsoft is preparing to scrap 12 competencies, including Volume Licensing, OEM and Distributor, as it takes greater strides towards cloud.
Customer Relationship Management, Devices and Deployment, Digital Advertising, Distributor, Hosting, Identity and Access, Intelligent Systems, Learning, Mid-market Solutions Provider, OEM, Software Asset Management, and Volume Licensing are those facing the axe.
From 30 July this year, partners will no longer be able to sign up for the competencies, and from 30 October, partners will no longer be able to renew. The 12 will finally be retired on 31 January 2018.
Microsoft has been moving towards a cloud-based consumption model for a number of years, and the latest move forms part of that strategy.
The vendor said it made the decision after taking a "hard look" at its existing portfolio of competencies and admitted that some partners might find the move to cloud hard.
"We recognise that it may be difficult for some partners to respond to this transition as it could require changes and additional investments," said the company on the Microsoft Partner Network blog. "The schedule for the competency changes is designed to give partners enough time to transform their business and build new practices in the cloud."
Gavriella Schuster, Microsoft's general manager for its Worldwide Partner Group, added that the competency axe will "streamline our programme and help focus our efforts and investment on building successful cloud practices together".
As part of the move, Microsoft has set up a dedicated website where partners can get advice on which new competencies they can aim for in light of the changes.
Neil Murphy, managing director of Microsoft partner Bytes, said his firm will be affected by the loss of three competencies, but welcomed the move. He said it shows Microsoft has a "very joined-up approach" between its strategy and its accreditations.
"It won't cause a problem for us," he said.
"It is great Microsoft made the announcements in plenty of time and gave us plenty of notice. They have given us many ideas and suggestions on how to take on alternative accreditations. It is all very tied into the new cloud strategy and we are quite comfortable with it. It fits in with our evolving strategy as well – it underpins those changes and is all positive."
Andy Trish, managing director of SMB Microsoft partner NCI Technologies, was less enthusiastic about the changes.
"It is bad news for me because they are purely focusing on cloud," he said. "They did this a while back – they went purely cloud, and then they went hybrid – and now, with these competency [changes], it is back to purely cloud. I am not purely cloud."
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