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Partner Roadmap

Partners are at the center of how we deliver technologies, transform businesses, and positively impact people and economies. Driven by digital transformation and the opportunities of the intelligent cloud and intelligent devices, we're reshaping our partner model for growth by prioritizing investments that support these new opportunities, incentivizing strong results for customers, and making it easier to do business with Microsoft. We believe that we succeed when you have the tools and support to deliver solutions that empower customers to achieve more.
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The value of partnership

Microsoft empowers every person and every organization to achieve more. Our partner ecosystem is the largest in the world, with partners in more than 225 countries and regions delivering value to businesses and local economies. Wherever customers live and work, Microsoft partners are there to support them.

Whether offering simple applications or complex integrations, our partners have access to limitless opportunities with the Microsoft Cloud to innovate, scale, and differentiate their solutions to help their customers succeed in today's environment.

Our technology platform is just the beginning. We believe technology should be inclusive and a force for global good. That's why we work with partners to deliver trusted, accessible, inclusive, and sustainable solutions around the globe to strengthen our digital capability.

Last modified: November 2021


Partners make more possible

We share a common goal with our partners: to help our customers drive business growth and digital acceleration. Across the Microsoft Partner Network, we're transforming to help partners capitalize on the vast opportunities of building and selling cloud applications and services. We're investing more across our partner ecosystem to position partners for growth. We're committed to:
  • Strengthening our digital capability so it's easier for you to get things done.
  • Deepening your technical capability.
  • Streamlining engagement between us to drive profitability.

This Partner Roadmap will take you through recent updates and changes across the new commerce experience, co-selling, the Microsoft commercial marketplace, Partner Center, membership programs and skill building, and our incentive programs, providing you relevant insights into what you can expect in your partnership journey with us.

Simplifying your commerce experience

The new Microsoft commerce experience is a multi-year investment that, once fully realized, will offer a consistent, simplified purchase experience for customers, and will enable them to digitally transform, with greater flexibility in how and where they buy.

The new commerce experience will deliver on the following promises: continuous selling, an enduring book of business, and reduced costs.

Transitioning from Open License to the Cloud Solution Provider program

With the introduction of perpetual licensing to the Cloud Solution Provider program, we've improved simplicity and manageability for partners, expanding your capacity to offer customers hybrid cloud environments.

Perpetual software licenses (without Software Assurance) are now available for commercial customers and public-sector customers (government, education, and nonprofit). The last day to transact any Open License program offers will be December 31, 2021, and from January 1, 2022, you must use the Cloud Solution Provider program to transact perpetual software offers.

Microsoft commercial marketplace channel incentives

Independent software vendors (ISVs) can create new private offers and extend margin to Cloud Solution Providers—incentivizing channel partners to sell an ISV partner's application. This feature supports all ISVs with a published, transactable application in the commercial marketplace (Microsoft AppSource and Azure Marketplace) and partners in our Cloud Solution Provider program.

New Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, Power Platform, and Windows 365

Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, Power Platform, and Windows 365 seat-based offers are now available in new commerce in the Cloud Solution Provider program. To help you transition customers to the new commerce experience, we'll offer two time-bound promotions, on monthly-term and annual-term offers, between January and June 2022. These promotions, designed to encourage migration to the new commerce experience, will apply to all new commerce seat-based offers except Windows 365, and to subscriptions up to 2,400 seats.

New purchasing guidance for commercial cloud customers

Our new purchasing guidance clarifies the differences between the breadth and enterprise purchasing motions and defines which is most likely to be the best fit for different customers. While this new guidance should help outline the best purchasing motion for most customers, some will have unique needs that make them a better fit for a different motion that will allow you to unlock significant opportunities to maintain and grow your customer base.

Transitioning Microsoft Azure customers

As we continue to optimize the Cloud Solution Provider program for our breadth purchasing motion, we'll create a way for you to transition customers from the Microsoft Customer Agreement (MCA) to the Cloud Solution Provider program and vice versa.

We're working to simplify your interactions with Microsoft and make it easier to grow your business.


Updates to the Microsoft Partner Agreement

We've updated the Microsoft Partner Agreement (MPA). Partners in France will need to resign the MPA. For other partners, if you've already signed the MPA, you won't need to sign again. You can now access updates to the MPA in Partner Center and see a historical overview of MPA changes. The new MPA incorporates guidance and policies about compliance, tax, trade, data privacy, security, and additional terms.

Purchasing through the Azure plan in the Cloud Solution Provider program

The Azure plan simplifies the Azure purchasing process, creates better alignment across channels, reduces customer acquisition obstacles, and provides you with additional capabilities, such as Azure Lighthouse and Azure Cost Management. We're transitioning to the new Azure plan in three phases:
  • Since July 2021, all new Azure business in the Cloud Solution Provider program can only be transacted on the new Azure plan.
  • In phase two, beginning February 1, 2022, incentive and partner margin opportunity will be removed from the previous Azure offer.
  • In phase three, any remaining customers on the previous Azure offer will be migrated to the new Azure plan in the Cloud Solution Provider program. We'll communicate the phase three start date six months in advance.
To best align the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program to our joint customers' needs, we are evolving specific aspects of the billing process and certain program requirements.

European Union/European Free Trade Association billing currency change

In the European Union/European Free Trade Association (EU/EFTA) region, all new commerce offers in the Cloud Solution Provider program will use partner billing locations instead of customer billing locations. This is better aligned to partner and customer currency needs and regulations in the EU/EFTA region.

Updated billing model for the Cloud Solution Provider program

Based on partner feedback, we're updating our billing model for the Cloud Solution Provider program to engage with Microsoft subsidiaries at a local level. In March 2021, we began implementing this change for partners in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. In fiscal year 2022, we'll expand this new billing model to other geographies, including the United Kingdom, Europe, Mexico, and Brazil.

Creating valuable customer connections

Co-selling with Microsoft is the path for your organization to be discovered, deliver your expertise, and expand your customer footprint for positive customer outcomes. With partners in more than 225 countries and regions, Microsoft commercial marketplace helps partners accelerate their business by showcasing their solutions and connecting with millions of customers around the world. We offer the best co-sell opportunities for partners to engage customers worldwide, foster collaboration, and drive larger sales opportunities by tapping into our global brand, sales motions, and demand-generation capabilities.

We believe that we succeed when you have the tools and support to deliver transformative solutions that empower your customers to achieve more. We're optimizing the Microsoft commercial marketplace with new offers, leads, support, rewards, and more—to enable you to grow your business.

Co-sell publishing in Partner Center

We want to help you get the most from co-selling with Microsoft and increase your profitability. That's why we're updating the co-sell publishing workflow in Partner Center to make it easier for you to see and understand your solutions' co-sell eligibility and status, increase speed to publish, and separate organizational roles between developers and publishers.

FY22 IP co-sell incentive for Azure

To simplify and improve partner and field experiences in fiscal year 2022, we're making changes to put customer needs and choice at the core of all deals. We're realigning how we reward Microsoft sellers who are delivering customer success with a partner solution embedded in the overall customer solution. Along with incentive changes, we'll simplify deal registration by carrying over referral data.

Partner-requested co-sell status review

We're introducing the option to request a subsequent co-sell status review for partners that don't meet all requirements during an initial co-sell status assessment. This enhancement will be especially useful for specific co-sell statuses such as the Azure IP Co-sell incentives if your organization's trailing 12-month ACR (TTMACR) previously was below target, but now meets or exceeds the status requirements.

Extending existing competencies

We've heard from partners that COVID-19 continues to affect their businesses, making it difficult for many partners to meet the requirements to renew existing competencies. If you have a competency anniversary date between July 1 and December 31, 2021, we're extending existing competencies to the next anniversary date in 2022 (except for the Cloud Business Applications competency). Information specific to your organization is now available in Partner Center aligned to your renewal timeframe, competency fees, and renewals. You'll need to pay the competency fee and complete your renewal.

Updated referral routing rules

With this update, you'll be able to route referrals shared with you in Partner Center based on the location of the customer and solution involved. By default, co-sell opportunities are shared to the partner location of the co-sell solution attached to the opportunity. Referral admins can now update this default by creating new rules for routing based on customer location, solution, and partner location.
To streamline your interactions with Microsoft, we are making changes and automating systems to improve your pipeline accuracy, consolidate your access to leads, and streamline the deal registration and sharing processes. 

Improving your referral and deal experience

We've made improvements to your co-sell experience in Partner Center, with consolidated access to leads and automated deal registration and closure. We're working to fully automate deal registration for Azure IP commercial marketplace transactions and bring consolidated and unified leads from Microsoft storefronts together in Partner Center in the future.

Simplifying deal validation

To simplify our programs and processes and make it easier to do business with us, we're automating the way you register deals in Partner Center. We're making it easier to edit the information directly, and you'll have insight into the eligibility status of the deal for registration validation. Once registered, deals will be automatically reviewed and validated, reducing back-and-forth communication. We've implemented deal validation logic and will be transitioning the deal registration process to the deal progress bar in the Co-sell Opportunities tab within the Referrals module of Partner Center in 2021. In 2022, the leads from the commercial marketplace will be viewable in the Leads tab under the Referrals module.

Bulk download of registered co-sell deals

To further streamline your co-sell engagement with Microsoft, we've made it easier for you to bulk-download your deal registration data in Partner Center.
As a partner in more than 225 countries and regions, we’re working to improve your co-sell experience to ensure we can jointly serve customers in this space.

Introducing customer growth insights

We're introducing new capabilities within Partner Center to help you identify customers with high engagement or those that are sales-ready with actionable data and analysis models.  We're focusing time on the highest-value opportunities within the Microsoft 365 customer base with prioritized lifecycle management recommendations.

To better retain our Microsoft 365 customers, we're providing early warning when direct engagement can prevent future churn so you can better serve and retain your customers. We're improving monetization, predicting which customers are ready for the next step in their digital transformation based on usage patterns and behavior of similar customers. This helps you manage risks and adjust sales cycles and processes based on insights.

Enabling SaaS ISVs to convert listing-only offers to transactive

To save time and overhead, partners that already have a listing in the Microsoft commercial marketplace will be able to convert it to a transactive offer without re-creating it from scratch.

Access ISV leads in Partner Center

To make it easier for you to manage your offers and bring capabilities together in Partner Center, we'll enable you to access all leads within Partner Center for easier integration with ISV CRMs.

OCP Go-To-Market (GTM) final migration phase

To continue our investment in Partner Center and improve your experience managing your relationship with Microsoft, we're finalizing migration of partners from OCP GTM to Partner Center. This means, you'll be able to manage your co-sell collateral for all commercial solutions in Partner Center.

Increase customer discoverability in AppSource

Now that we've integrated the Partner Finder into AppSource, it's easier for customers to discover and contact you for custom engagements. Millions of customers can now discover your business profile where they're already searching for Microsoft products. Make sure your business profile in Partner Center is up to date and compelling to benefit from the increased exposure.

Differentiating your business

We succeed together when we create strong results for our customers. We're making it easier to differentiate your organization in the market, connect with your ideal customers, and gain the skills and knowledge required to continuously drive growth. That's why we're prioritizing investments that help you develop and highlight your skills and capabilities throughout our ecosystem—so we can keep building a path to our shared success.

Keep your team's Microsoft Certifications current

Given the speed at which cloud technologies evolve, it's important to keep your team's skills current and certifications active. Your certifications help customers understand where you can help them and can be prerequisites for retaining the competencies and advanced specializations your organization has earned. Check your Partner Center dashboard to identify people in your organization whose certifications are coming up for renewal.
We are launching new advanced specializations to help you better differentiate your business, highlight your specific technical capabilities, and drive customer confidence in your validated knowledge, skills, and experience.

New Microsoft Azure advanced specializations

We're continuing to invest in new Azure advanced specializations to help you highlight your organization's deep technical capabilities and experience in specific Azure scenarios. In 2021, we released advanced specializations for DevOps with GitHub on Microsoft Azure and Networking Services in Microsoft Azure.

We've updated the Microsoft Azure advanced specialization audit checklist to stay current with Microsoft Azure service deployment and industry best practices. The exception is the SAP on Microsoft Azure advanced specialization, which does not require an audit. We're introducing functionality to submit customer references in Partner Center, making it easier to meet the advanced specialization requirements.

New business applications advanced specializations

We're continuing to invest in new business applications advanced specializations to help you highlight your organization's deep technical capabilities and experience in specific technical scenarios. In fiscal year 2022, we'll launch advanced specializations for business applications–related scenarios, including intelligent automation, customer data, and business intelligence. We're introducing functionality to submit customer references in Partner Center, making it easier for you to meet the requirements.

New modern work advanced specializations

We're continuing to invest in new modern work advanced specializations to help you highlight your organization's deep technical capabilities and experience in specific technical scenarios. In fiscal year 2022, we'll launch advanced specializations supporting such modern work scenarios as modernizing endpoints and employee experience.

New security advanced specializations

Security advanced specializations help you highlight your organization's deep technical capabilities and experience in specific security-related scenarios. Current security advanced specializations are Cloud Security, Identity and Access Management, Information Protection and Governance, and Threat Protection.

Data Platform & Analytics Practice Development playbook

To help you continue your transformation to innovate faster on-premises and deliver business insights through SQL Server and Microsoft Azure Synapse Analytics, we've released the Data Platform & Analytics Practice Development playbook—developed by partners, for partners.
By meeting the demanding requirements to earn an advanced specialization, you validate your organization’s deep technical knowledge, proven experience, and technical capabilities in specific solution areas with high customer demand.
To ensure that Microsoft competencies and advanced specializations recognize your specific capabilities, we’re updating select requirements, prerequisites and benefits.

Managing your partnership

Our mission to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more begins with trust. We're continually assessing and updating our programs, processes, and experiences—streamlining and simplifying how partners can access information and manage their business with us. These continuous improvements enable our partners to focus on growing their business and our customers' success.

Redesigning the Partner Center experience

As part of our commitment to make it easier to do business with Microsoft and increase partner profitability, we're evolving the Partner Center user experience. The new design delivers a more consistent, efficient, and productive experience across Partner Center and related Microsoft portals. The first phase of changes was delivered in November 2021 and introduces workspaces, which appear on your Partner Center home page. Workspaces available to you will be personalized based on your organization's business with Microsoft.

Ensuring a trusted partner ecosystem

The Microsoft Standards of Business Conduct (SBC) requires that we build and preserve trust with customers, governments, shareholders, partners, representatives, and each other. We've launched a Microsoft Standards of Business Conduct training to provide you with a good overview of the Partner and Supplier Code of Conduct. The video is available in 20 languages and meets Microsoft accessibility standards.
Continue to get the most out of your membership with supplementary resources, go-to-market services, and co-sell capabilities.

Updates to Microsoft Partner Network program requirements

We're continuing to improve compliance requirements for the Microsoft Partner Network program to support a compliant and protected ecosystem. This includes additional customer information requirements and more rigorous vetting of partner business profiles.
Expand your business, connections, and impact by getting involved in the Microsoft Partner Network. Revisit and catch up on Microsoft Inspire 2021, help join us to #BuildFor2030 with solutions that advance the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and learn about our commitment to grow representation of Black and African American–owned businesses within the Microsoft partner ecosystem.

Help us #BuildFor2030

Through the Microsoft #BuildFor2030 initiative, we're recognizing partners whose solutions and services help advance the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and capture inclusive market opportunities. Nominate your solution on the Microsoft commercial marketplace for a chance to be featured in the #BuildFor2030 Campaign, and gain added go-to-market benefits—or start building one. Participate in the #BuildFor2030 Hackathon and use your expertise to drive positive impact for your customers and communities. The #BuildFor2030 Hackathon is open to partners around the world, and final entries are due November 22, 2021.

The Microsoft Black Partner Growth Initiative

Microsoft is committed to addressing racial injustice by increasing the representation of Black- and African American–owned businesses within the Microsoft partner ecosystem by 20 percent over the next three years. The Black Partner Growth Initiative provides participating businesses with access to key resources, personalized support, connections, and offers within the Microsoft Partner Network to accelerate their solutions to customers.

Investments and incentives

Microsoft partners play a critical role across all stages of the customer lifecycle, including advising, selling, building, and managing solutions that meet customer needs. We're committed to transforming the go-to-market experience to better serve partners and our joint customers, while making it easier for you to work with Microsoft to leverage our incentives and investments.

We're in the third year of a five-year journey to deliver a simplified engagement experience that maximizes your earning opportunity and creates new value for customers. In fiscal year 2022, we'll introduce a new experience in Partner Center for the Microsoft Commerce Incentives program with new incentive and investment offers.

October investments and incentives portfolio release

For fiscal year 2022, we want you to continue seeing the value and improved opportunities in your relationship with Microsoft and focus on outcomes for mutual success. Key earning opportunities for you include:
  • Continued incentives for Microsoft Azure on the new commerce experience as the previous Azure offer is phased out on February 1, 2022, along with additional earning opportunities for Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, and Power Platform in the Cloud Solution Provider program.
  • Rewards for partners in the Cloud Solution Provider program for customer acquisition efforts for Microsoft 365 and Dynamics 365.
  • Usage-based incentives for increased consumption on Power Platform.
  • Activity-based incentives to drive customer workshops for modern work and security solutions.

Investing in the partner engagement experience

We're investing in a new experience within Partner Center to create a centralized destination for you to earn incentives across purchasing motions and stages of the customer lifecycle. As we develop this consolidated partner experience, we're focused on three key objectives:
  • Streamline how we deliver incentives, investments, and activities through a connected Partner Center experience.
  • Enable you to deliver more value with customer-focused earning opportunities.
  • Provide transparency and predictability for earning opportunities across available incentive engagements.

Reserved Instances transfer capability for Microsoft Azure in the Cloud Solution Provider program

Azure Reserved Instances (RI) allow partners and customers to purchase reserved virtual machines for a one- or three-year commitment. We'll provide the ability to automatically transition RI between partners in the Cloud Solution Provider program, as part of partner-to-partner Microsoft Azure transition capability.

Digital Partner of Record (DPOR) incentives update 

Partner Admin Link provides an improved telemetry-based capability optimized for tracking managed services delivery, where you have admin access to a customer's Azure infrastructure to deploy, manage, optimize, and support customer resources. With the introduction of this capability into the enterprise sales motion, Microsoft can now recognize when you are active within a customer environment. This allows multiple partners to be rewarded for driving strong results and positive outcomes for their customers, with a reward model designed for partners' influence on Azure consumption. With the new Partner Admin Link capability, we'll be removing the previous Digital Partner of Record role from available Azure incentives beginning in October 2021. 

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