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Partner roadmap

We’re making continuous investments across the Microsoft Partner Network—in commerce, co-sell and the commercial marketplace, programs, and investments and incentives—to deliver what you need to grow your business and meet customers’ needs.
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Transforming with Microsoft

For decades, our partners have been at the center of how we deliver technologies and business transformation to customers. Today, driven by the pace of digital transformation, the opportunities of the cloud and the imperative of tech intensity—defined as an organization’s rate of technology adoption along with its ability to build its own digital adaptability—we are innovating alongside you to meet customers’ urgent needs and new expectations.

To deliver sustained impact through our journey together—and as cloud services refocus our businesses on customer usage of those services—we are reshaping the partner ecosystem to follow customer demand. We’re positioning both our company and yours for growth, rewarding partners who drive strong results for customers and making it easier to do business with us. This is how we’re bringing that vision to life.

Partners make more possible

We believe that partnerships are built on a foundation of trust. We secure that trust by designing and delivering thoughtful, customer-first, partner-led initiatives and programs. We succeed when you, our partners, have the tools and support to deliver transformative solutions that empower customers around the world to achieve more.

Our partner ecosystem is central to how we deliver solutions to our customers. But as markets evolve at the pace of digital transformation, we must also evolve our partner ecosystem to ensure both your organization and Microsoft are positioned for growth.

This evolution involves continued investments across the Microsoft Partner Network—with the new commerce experience, co-sell and the Microsoft commercial marketplace, membership and incentives—to make it the program of choice for partners. The following digital experience will walk you through recent updates and changes and provide you with insight on what is coming in future relevant to where your organization is in your partnership journey with us.

Simplifying your commerce experience

We are committed to supporting every organization in their digital transformation. To ensure this, we are investing in technology as well as examining the end-to-end journeys for both you and your customers. Through this assessment, we have identified opportunities to transform ourselves by making improvements to our commerce platform. Here’s what we’re doing to help you build your business, drive success for shared customers, and streamline your experience with Microsoft.

Perpetual software licenses for Cloud Solution Providers

Starting in January 2021, we will be including perpetual software licenses in the Cloud Solution Provider program, giving you the flexibility you need to combine software licenses and managed services for customer hybrid cloud environments. As of January 1, 2022 and as we continue to prioritize cloud services, no renewals of Software Assurance and online services or new purchases of software licenses can be made through the Open License program, and new license-only purchases should be transacted through the Cloud Solution Provider program.

Streamlined Azure transitions for enhanced flexibility

Expanding on the new commerce experience for Azure, we have enabled streamlined transitions of modern Azure plans between Cloud Solution Provider partners. These transitions, driven by customer decision, will only occur when both partners take action. The transition process, part of your online portal experience in Partner Center, causes no customer downtime and will help reduce errors, save time, and provide greater visibility.

We're working to simplify your interactions with Microsoft and make it easier to grow your business, as well as equipping you and your customers with advanced security technologies to defend against security threats. 

 

Security requirements for Partner Center transactions

To prevent unauthorized access and protect customers and tenants from security incidents related to identity theft, in 2019 we introduced mandatory security requirements—including multifactor authentication—for partners participating in the Cloud Solution Provider program. Additional safeguards for Partner Center transactions will also be implemented throughout 2021.

Microsoft Partner Agreement

As of January 31, 2020, partners should have accepted the Microsoft Partner Agreement (MPA) for all transactions in the Cloud Solution Provider program. If you or a reseller that you work with has not signed the agreement, you or your reseller may be unable to create new customers or place new orders for existing customers. In April 2021, we will be updating the existing MPA with new language.

Updating the Microsoft Partner Agreement

As of January 31, 2020, partners should have accepted the Microsoft Partner Agreement (MPA) for all transactions in the Cloud Solution Provider program. In April 2021, we will be updating the existing MPA with new language, but you will not have to re-sign the agreement when it becomes effective on that date.

To best align the Cloud Solution Provider program to our joint customers' needs, we are evolving specific aspects of the order submission process and certain program requirements.

Process improvements to education customer validation

To streamline the order submission process for Cloud Solution Providers who offer academic discounts to education customers, we have introduced a validation system within Partner Center in which you can tag a customer tenant as EDU once the customer has been validated as a qualified education institution per the Qualified Education User (QEUs) licensing documentation. 

EU/EFTA billing currency change

In the European Union/European Free Trade Association (EU/EFTA) region, we will be updating billing from customer currency to partner currency for new commerce offers in the Cloud Solution Provider program. 

Updated requirements for the Cloud Solution Provider program

We’re continuing to evolve the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program to meet customers’ changing needs and provide the most efficient and profitable experience for partners. Effective January 2021, we’re updating the requirements for direct bill partners in the CSP program.

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. Our better-together selling approach augments your sales efforts across three channels: customers, Microsoft sellers, and other partners, driving enriched value and specialization to help customers with their digital transformation needs. You can showcase your solutions to customers, bi-directionally share opportunities with other Microsoft and partner sellers, and jointly sell innovative solutions to create valuable customer relationships. Here’s how we’re continuing to invest in and improve your co-selling experience.

Additional updates to Partner Center referral capabilities

In addition to other new features and capabilities highlighted, in Partner Center, you can now invite other partners to co-sell with you directly. We’ve also introduced functionality that allows you to share inbound co-sell opportunities related to small and medium-sized business (SMB) customers.  

Deal Migration wizard

We’re introducing a simplified experience for partners who need to migrate existing open, conforming deals from Partner Sales Connect to Partner Center. Coming soon.

Co-sell qualified referrals pilot program

Your organization has been selected to participate in the co-sell qualified referrals program. This program provides a unified framework for partner referral management by establishing a standard taxonomy for leading referral sources and customer scenarios. As part of its pilot launch, your business will receive referrals in specific product and solution areas.
Co-selling with Microsoft helps you extend your reach and create valuable customer connections to grow your business. 

Partner-led co-sell opportunities

We are introducing functionality to allow you to share partner-led co-sell opportunities with the Microsoft direct sales team, without requiring customer contact information. These opportunities will still be visible to the Microsoft sales team and receive full partner attribution however do not require Microsoft seller engagement. These deals may be promoted for active seller engagement at any time by selecting any of the help needed options in the referral. Coming soon.

Converging your commercial marketplace leads

We will soon begin feeding leads from the Microsoft Azure Marketplace and Microsoft AppSource into Partner Center—bringing together all your lead pipelines from Microsoft storefronts and sales teams into one consolidated location. Coming soon.

To streamline your interactions with Microsoft, we are updating your options for how you can share deals at scale, as well as where certain co-sell information and functionality can be accessed.

Migration to Partner Center for co-selling

As a partner engaged in the Solution Assessment program, you now have access to co-selling capabilities in Partner Center, further streamlining how you do business with Microsoft.

Automated migration to Partner Center co-sell

We’re automating partners’ migration from Partner Sales Connect to Partner Center co-sell in waves, and your organization will receive notification when it’s your time to move. We will also be introducing a new, simplified experience for partners who need to migrate existing open, conforming opportunities to Partner Center to enable you to migrate your active opportunities to the new experience and continue your sales cycle without an impact on business continuity.

Bulk upload functionality

You now have the ability to share deals at scale via an Excel-based bulk upload functionality. This will serve as an interim solution for partners onboarding to connectors or representational state transfer (REST) APIs. Coming soon.

Differentiating your business

We want to empower you by making it easier to differentiate your organization in the market, connect with your ideal customer, and gain the skills and knowledge required to continuously drive growth. We all succeed together when we create strong results for customers, and that’s why we are prioritizing investments throughout our ecosystem that build a path to this shared success. As part of this, we are continually investing in programs you can use to develop and highlight new skills and expertise.

Stand out in the market

Set your organization apart from others in the market by earning Microsoft competencies and advanced specializations aligned to customers’ business needs. Competencies let you demonstrate areas of technical capability and, building on gold competencies, advanced specializations enable you to further differentiate your organization's ability to deliver tailored customer solutions.

We are releasing new advanced specializations that are designed to help you better differentiate your business, highlight your specialized capabilities, and reach new customers.

Azure advanced specializations now available in Partner Center

All Azure advanced specializations—including Kubernetes on Azure, Windows Server and SQL Server Migration to Azure, and Linux and Open Source Databases Migration to Azure—are now available in Partner Center, making it easier for you to manage your membership in one place.  

New Azure advanced specializations

We are introducing two new Azure advanced specializations: Microsoft Windows Virtual Desktop, and Analytics on Azure. Earn these advanced specializations to highlight your organization’s deep technical knowledge, proven experience, and technical capabilities related to specific Azure scenarios.
Advanced specializations enable you to highlight your organization’s deep technical knowledge, proven experience, and technical capabilities in specific solution areas with high customer demand.

New Modern Workplace advanced specialization

We are introducing a new Modern Workplace advanced specialization: Microsoft 365 Custom Teamwork Solutions. Earn advanced specializations to highlight your organization’s deep technical knowledge, proven experience, and technical capabilities related to specific to Microsoft 365 scenarios.  Your Cloud Productivity competency may make you eligible. Coming soon.

New security advanced specializations

We are introducing three new security advanced specializations: Identity and Access Management, and Threat Protection (available now) and Information Protection and Governance (coming soon). Earn these advanced specializations to highlight your organization’s deep technical knowledge, proven experience, and technical capabilities related to specific to security scenarios. Your Security competency may make you eligible. 
 

New Business Applications advanced specializations

We are introducing two new Business Applications advanced specializations: Low Code Application Development and Small and Midsize Business Management advanced specialization. Earn these advanced specializations to highlight your organization’s deep technical knowledge, proven experience, and technical capabilities related to specific Dynamics 365 and Power Apps scenarios.

 

To make sure our competencies and advanced specializations best reflect our joint customers' needs, we are updating select requirements and exams.

Exam updates for the Cloud Business Applications competency

The Microsoft Power Platform + Dynamics 365 Core (MB-200) and Microsoft Power Apps + Dynamics 365 Developer (MB-400) exams, which are both requirements for attaining the Cloud Business Applications competency’s Customer Engagement option, will be retired in December of 2020, and replaced with PL 200 and PL 400 respectively. The MB exams, if already completed, will remain valid until December 31, 2021.  

Exam updates for the Data Analytics competency

The Analyzing and Visualizing Data with Microsoft Power BI exam, which is a requirement for attaining the Data Analytics competency’s Power BI option, will be retired in January of 2021. This exam, if already completed, will remain valid until January 31, 2022. This exam requirement will be replaced with the Analyzing Data with Microsoft Power BI (DA-100) exam. 

 

Exam updates for the Teamwork Deployment advanced specialization

Exam requirements for the Teamwork Deployment advanced specialization have been updated after their expiration in August of 2020. 

Application Integration for Technical Assessment retirement

The Microsoft Partner Network BizTalk Technical Competency Assessment for Application Integration, which is a requirement for the Application Integration competency, will be retired on December 31, 2020. This assessment, if already completed, will remain valid until December 31, 2021.

To ensure that our competencies and advanced specializations recognize and reward your specialized capabilities, we are updating select prerequisites and benefits.

Microsoft Business Voice now available in competency benefits

To help you deliver the best customer solutions and services—particularly in the SMB space—and to build your capacity and expertise, we are adding Microsoft Business Voice, the Microsoft 365 SMB voice solution, to our competency benefits package for the Small and Midmarket Cloud Solutions (SMMC) competency. As you renew your competency, your experience will be updated.

Updates to the Cloud Productivity competency and applicable advanced specializations

Monthly Active Usage (MAU) is replacing Active Entitlements (AE) as the way Microsoft measures performance requirements for the Cloud Productivity competency and applicable advanced specializations. While AE is measured at the SKU level, MAU measures at the customer tenant level. With MAU, we can more accurately measure your attainment towards a competency or advanced specialization.

Update to cloud competency requirement revenue types

Modern” is an eligible revenue type for Azure consumption and will count towards competencies where Azure Consumed Revenue (ACR) is measured. The partner will either be associated via the legacy attribution or the modern attribution to the customer tenant.

With competencies and advanced specializations, we help you differentiate yourself in the marketplace and stand-out to customers.
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New option for Small and Midmarket Cloud Solutions competency

We will be introducing a new attainment option for the Small and Midmarket Cloud Solutions competency, built specifically for small and midsized business (SMB) Dynamics partners. New Business Central benefits will be provided to those partners who attain the competency specifically via the Cloud Business Applications – SMB option.

Additional SKUs for the Data Analytics competency

We have added additional Power BI SKUs that will count towards reaching the seat count targets to help your organization achieve a competency via the Power BI option.

We are adjusting key pieces of the renewal process for certain partner programs, as well as updating how you can track your progress towards earning an advanced specialization.

Track your progress towards an advanced specialization

You can now track your progress towards earning an advanced specialization in Partner Center. Select a specific advanced specialization's tab in Partner Center to see your organization’s progress.

Managing your partnership

Our mission—to empower every individual and organization to achieve more—starts with trust. Across our partner ecosystem, we are only as secure and compliant as our weakest link: that’s why we’re continuing to improve our systems and processes to further ensure compliance for your business, for our shared customers, and for Microsoft. We’re also continuing to make improvements to our programs, processes and experiences—streamlining and simplifying how you can access information and manage your business with us, so you can focus on growing your business and your success.

Partner Center updates

In Partner Center, the “Partner settings” and “Developer settings” drop-downs will be merged into a new “Account settings” option, making it easier to manage your company’s account in one location. We are also integrating Microsoft Learn reporting into the Insights section of Partner Center, helping you to better track, incentivize, reward, and report on your organization’s training status.

Updates to Cloud Solution Provider requirements

We’re continuing to improve compliance requirements for the Cloud Solution Provider program, including more rigorous vetting of partner business profiles to support a compliant and protected ecosystem, the submission of additional customer information in select countries, and anti-corruption agreement documents. We are also providing enhanced reporting capabilities for direct bill partners and indirect providers for greater visibility on their agreement and compliance status.

Updates to Microsoft Partner Network program requirements

We’re continuing to improve compliance requirements for the Microsoft Partner Network program, including more rigorous vetting of partner business profiles to support a compliant and protected ecosystem.

Investments and Incentives

Our partner investment and incentive programs are designed to reward you for delivering strategic solutions that drive strong results for customers. This year, as we optimize our incentive portfolio to meet evolving expectations, we are simplifying how our programs work and maintaining stability in investments for cloud opportunities. To help you meet customers’ cloud-based solution needs, we are focusing on three priorities: enabling new ways of working, facilitating partner growth, and accelerating customer digital transformation.

Updated investments and incentives portfolios

In this fiscal year, we will continue to increase growth opportunities and focus on results that help you drive success. As part of this we announced changes to our investments and incentives portfolios in July and October.

Open License incentive changes

As part of our continued shift to cloud services and the launch of perpetual software license in CSP offering, the Managed Reseller and Commercial Distributor incentive programs have been removed as a part of changes to the Open License program.

Streamlining Azure incentives

We merged the Azure incentive program into the Microsoft Commerce incentive program to provide you more flexibility and streamline your earning opportunities for driving Azure consumption. This year, we expanded our recognition of engagements with customers to include more opportunities for rewards when you develop and drive value with customers via Partner Admin Link (PAL). You can continue to earn recognition and incentives with PAL when you help customers develop, build, and manage their Azure environments.

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