Microsoft's decision to axe 12 competencies as it strides towards the cloud could be at the detriment of its hybrid and on-premise-focused partners and customers, according to a Microsoft partner and IAMCP bigwig.
Microsoft revealed last week that 12 competencies, including Volume Licensing, Hosting and Distributor, are being axed, with partners having until January 2018 to move to cloud-focused alternatives. Microsoft has been talking up its cloud credentials for a while and said the latest move forms part of its wider cloud strategy.
Kelvin Kirby, who runs partner company Technology Associates, said although the near-two-year grace period will help partners adjust to the new regime, some who have strong business fulfilling customers' on-premise or hybrid demands could suffer.
"I just worry slightly that there is still an awful lot of hybrid and on-prem [business] out there and I worry [Microsoft] is focusing too much on cloud at the detriment of the on-prem stuff," he said. "Partners out there in the field still need to be able to support that, and I get the impression that is being left behind."
On a corporate level, Microsoft has been keen to boast about its cloud plans for a number of years. But in November 2014, when Microsoft announced a number of other cloud changes, its then-UK channel boss Linda Rendleman talked up the importance of its hybrid offering.
She said although growth was coming from the cloud, "many need a hybrid solution and we believe hybrid is our differentiator".
But Microsoft's focus appears to have since pivoted firmly in favour of cloudy wares.
As part of the most recent competency changes, Microsoft has created a website through which partners can determine which cloud-focused competencies they should pursue if a competency they have is getting the chop.
Kirby said that having to regularly change its accreditation strategy in line with Microsoft's competency change can be costly for partners.
"There are mixed feelings out there, for sure," he said. "For the smaller and mid-range partners, they feel this is just another round of investment in certification. We recognise the value in [cloud certification] and I am not saying we shouldn't have that. But I think a lot of people felt [that a competency] might be a one-off investment every three or four years, rather than what is now an investment which happens every year.
"They have to take people out to do the exams and the revision. There was some work done a while back that said for every person who gets certified towards a competency, it works out about $50,000 or $60,000 per person. That's because of the loss of revenue for that person while they are doing revision and exams. And while they are doing that, they can't do anything else. So it is a big investment in their people, and they're doing it virtually every year now and it is a big chunk of money."
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