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Guide to Managing Partnerships in the Microsoft Partner Center

This guide is a comprehensive resource for managing memberships within Microsoft’s Partner Center. It is particularly geared towards roles like Global Administrators and those involved in the Microsoft A.I. Cloud Partner Program.

Navigating Membership in the Partner Center

The Partner Center offers a unified platform for managing various Microsoft partnership programs. Each program is tailored to different partner types and comes with unique benefits, including Azure Credits, Cloud Services, Software Keys, technical consulting, developer tools, marketing perks, and logo creation tools, all accessible through the Benefits workspace.

Essential Steps for Membership Management

To efficiently manage your membership, you should:

  1. Enroll in the Microsoft A.I. Cloud Partner Program.
  2. Ensure that your Partner Center account is verified. This involves Microsoft confirming the details you provide, such as your company name, address, and primary contact.

Roles for Membership Workspace Management

Your membership management requires a specific role within the Partner Center – the Microsoft A.I. Cloud Partner Program partner admin. This access can be granted by either a Global admin or an Account admin within your organization.

Types of Partners on the Microsoft Partner Network

Microsoft has an array of programs that cater to various partner types, including:

Services Partners

  • Partner Launch Benefits: For new partners, offering foundational benefits with products like Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, and Azure.
  • Microsoft Action Pack: An entry-level program providing a suite of benefits and software licenses.
  • Partner Success Programs: Including Core and Expanded Benefits, these programs offer enhanced support and resources to grow your business.
  • Solutions Partners: Earn designations in Microsoft’s solution areas to stand out and reach more customers.
  • Specializations and Azure Expert MSP: For advanced partners in Azure Solution Areas, exclusive badges are offered, priority in referral engines is given, and additional support is provided.

Independent Software Vendors (ISVs):

Training Services Partners:

Surface Partners:

Managing Membership Purchases

Participation in some programs might involve fees. You can manage these transactions by making payments via credit card or wire transfer, viewing and downloading invoices, and, if necessary, canceling purchases within 30 days, provided no benefits have been redeemed.

Maintaining Membership through Skilling and Performance

Certain memberships require meeting specific criteria in skills development and performance metrics. This includes ensuring employees’ certifications and training are linked to your Partner Center account and meeting Azure-related performance metrics.

User Roles for Benefits Management

Effective benefits management in the Partner Center requires specific roles. The primary role is the Microsoft A.I. Cloud Partner Program partner admin, overseeing benefits administration. Global admins or Account admins can assign this role. It’s also worth noting that certain marketing benefits are accessible to users outside of the Microsoft A.I. Cloud Partner Program partner admin role.

Available Benefits

The Benefits workspace in Partner Center is your portal to a broad spectrum of benefits, each aligned with your chosen specific offer. Here’s a look at the types of benefits:

  1. Azure Credit: These credits, available monthly or yearly, enable you to utilize various Azure services.
  2. Cloud Services: These encompass license-based subscriptions requiring product keys, such as Modern Work, Business Applications, and Windows online subscriptions, all redeemable on the Office Admin portal.
  3. Software Benefits: You will gain access to key software products, such as Dynamics CRM server, Office Professional, and SQL Server.
  4. Developer Tools: This category includes tools vital for development, like Visual Studio and GitHub.
  5. Technical Support & Consultation: Access support for both on-premises and cloud products by detailing issues in support incidents.
  6. Technical Presales & Deployment: Leverage personalized consultations to strategize and execute your Microsoft cloud services or applications.
  7. Marketing Benefits: These benefits offer a gateway to Go-to-market (GTM) benefits and Marketplace benefits, helping in lead generation, market acceleration, and business expansion.
  8. Logo Builder: A tool to create unique partner logos, Partner of the Year Award logos, or certified letters.

Benefits Guide Per Program

Understanding the specific benefits tied to each Microsoft program is crucial. To facilitate this, downloadable resources are available for:

Each program offers a unique set of benefits tailored to different partner needs.

Microsoft A.I. Cloud Partner Program FAQs

How does the Solutions Partner designation affect our access to Microsoft resources and support?

Upon achieving the Solutions Partner designation, your organization gains enhanced access to Microsoft’s resources, including advanced training modules, priority support, and increased exposure to potential clients through Microsoft’s partner directories. This designation symbolizes higher expertise and commitment to working with Microsoft technologies.

What are the criteria for maintaining the Solutions Partner status?

To maintain the Solutions Partner status, your organization must continuously meet specific performance criteria, including customer engagement metrics, revenue thresholds, and certain skill levels within your team. These criteria ensure that partners provide high-quality services and support to their clients.

Is there a fast-track process for renewing membership for high-performing partners?

High-performing partners might be eligible for a streamlined renewal process, acknowledging their consistent performance and commitment to Microsoft’s standards. Details of this process can be found in the Partner Center or by contacting your Microsoft partner representative.

How can product licenses be used for demonstration purposes?

Product licenses can be used to demonstrate your solutions to potential customers. However, it’s important to comply with the specific terms of use regarding demonstrations, as detailed in the Microsoft A.I. Cloud Partner Program Guide.

Are there additional benefits for partners specializing in specific Microsoft products or services?

Yes, partners specializing in specific areas such as Azure, Dynamics 365, or Microsoft 365 may be eligible for additional product licenses or support specific to these products. This specialization can enhance your ability to provide targeted solutions and services to your clients.

How do product license audits work, and what are the compliance requirements?

Microsoft may conduct audits on the use of product licenses to ensure compliance with the terms of use. Partners are expected to maintain records and provide evidence of compliance upon request. Regular internal audits are recommended to ensure ongoing compliance.

How can partners influence the development of future benefits or program enhancements?

Partners are encouraged to provide feedback through regular surveys and forums. High-level partners may have opportunities to participate in advisory councils or focus groups, directly influencing the evolution of Microsoft’s partner programs.

Are resources available for new partners to navigate the Microsoft A.I. Cloud Partner Program effectively?

New partners have access to a wealth of resources, including onboarding guides, webinars, and dedicated support teams, to help them navigate the program and maximize their benefits effectively.

What strategies should partners adopt to maximize the value of their Microsoft partnership?

Partners should focus on continuous learning and skill development, actively engage with the Microsoft partner community, and leverage the full range of benefits and resources available through the Partner Center. Regularly reviewing program updates and staying abreast of new Microsoft technologies and solutions is also crucial.

What is the Microsoft Partner Network?

The Microsoft Partner Network (MPN), previously known as the Microsoft Partner Program or MSPP, is a cornerstone of Microsoft’s strategy to collaborate with diverse technology companies. The MPN is tailored to provide extensive resources to these companies, enabling them to construct and expand their businesses around Microsoft technologies.

The MPN encompasses an expansive network of partners, vendors, and service providers, forming a robust ecosystem around Microsoft products. Estimates from 2017 and 2024 suggest about 100,000 partners in the U.S. and 30,000 in the U.K.

However, the global figure likely scales into millions. This diverse group includes systems integrators, original equipment manufacturers, independent software vendors, value-added resellers, telecommunications companies, Internet hosting services, marketing agencies, and resellers.

Significantly, this network has proven to be a revenue-generating powerhouse.

History of the Microsoft Partner Network

As of 2009, it was reported that for every dollar Microsoft earned, its partner ecosystem generated a staggering $8.70.

Significant milestones and transformations mark the history of the MPN. It began in 1992 with the launch of the Microsoft Certified Solution Provider program. In 2000, this evolved into the Microsoft Certified Partner program, coinciding with Ian Rogoff being named as the vice president of Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Group. By 2001, Microsoft’sMicrosoft’s commitment to this network deepened with an investment of $500 million in partner-related activities.

Over the years, leadership changes have seen Rosa Garcia and Allison L. Watson at the helm, each contributing to the program’s evolution. Microsoft’s commitment to its partners was underscored in 2003 with substantial investments and the integration of various channel programs under the unified Microsoft Partner Program.

By 2010, under John Roskill’s leadership, Microsoft’s investment in partners had grown to an impressive $5.2 billion, and this period also marked the official launch of the Microsoft Partner Network, replacing the old Microsoft Partner Program.

As with any large-scale program, MPN has had its challenges. For instance, in response to slow Windows 8 sales, Microsoft cut Solutions Incentive Program payments in 2013. Additionally, changes were announced in 2019 concerning on-premises product support for Action Pack and competencies.

Today, companies can apply to become Microsoft Certified Partners by accessing resources like the Microsoft Pinpoint online directory and the annual Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference. The MPN also aligns with individual certification programs, such as the Microsoft Certified Professional, allowing individuals to gain professional certification in Microsoft products.

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