As Microsoft Cloud Partner Program Launches, Company Readies ISV Expansion

Microsoft gold and silver competency badges are no longer valid with new program.

Jeffrey Schwartz

October 3, 2022

4 Min Read
Cloud launch, cloud rocket

The planned launch of the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program is now official, putting in place the company’s new partner designations. Microsoft marked the official beginning of its new partner program on Monday outlining the changes that are now in place.

Despite partner complaints about the short notice given about the program’s requirements, the company maintained its Oct. 3 launch date. Microsoft revealed the transition from its longstanding Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) to the new program just over six months ago.

Many partners complained that the scoring required to meet the six new designations penalized them, despite long ties with Microsoft. For some, the new Microsoft Cloud Partner Program will require them to change how they do business with the company.


Microsoft’s Nicole Dezen

Microsoft’s chief partner officer and corporate vice president for global partner solutions, Nicole Dezen, emphasized the benefits partners stand to gain. Denoting the program’s official launch on Microsoft’s partner blog, Dezen stressed why she believes partners will benefit.

“With the global reach, strategic investments, and technology stack from Microsoft, we empower our partners to create and sell differentiated products and end-to-end solutions for customers in any scenario and every industry,” Dezen noted. “Through the Cloud Partner Program, our commitment is to provide you with investments and global reach to differentiate your offering, scale your customer connections, and position for long-term profitability.”

Meeting the Six New Partner Designations

Dezen also marked the implementation of the six partner designations and Microsoft partner capability scores required to achieve each designation. Microsoft now tabulates those scores based on performance, skills and certifications and customer success.

Partners must achieve those scores for each of the six partner designations, which include:

  • Data and AI: Data management, providing AI and analytics solutions in Azure

  • Infrastructure: Cloud migration with Azure

  • Digital and App Innovation: Building, running and managing applicationsin Azure across multiple clouds, on-premises and at the edge

  • Business Applications: Creating and running solutions with Microsoft Dynamics 365 and the Microsoft Power Platform

  • Modern Work: Focus on productivity with Microsoft 365

  • Security: Providing Microsoft’s compliance, security and identity solutions.

Partners with legacy benefits that have met Microsoft’s requirements for a designation will be recognized for it, Dezen noted. She added that Microsoft would recognize partners achieving benefits for the first time once they pay their fees.

Now that Microsoft has launched the new designations, Dezen reiterated that legacy silver and gold badges are no longer valid. While partners will continue to receive legacy benefits until their next anniversary date, after that time, they’ll have two options. They can opt for the new Solution Partner benefits or pay a fee to continue receiving legacy benefits.

Dezen acknowledged that the six Solution Partner designations are primarily for partners who provide services. However, she pointed to the industry designations revealed in July at the Microsoft Inspire partner conference. “We’ll be prioritizing industry designations anchored on the Microsoft Industry Clouds and aligning across both the Solutions Partner and ISV programs, she noted.

ISV Success Program

Also coming to the new Microsoft Cloud Partner Program is the company’s ISV Success Program, announced at Microsoft Inspire. The program is now available to select partners through a private preview. Microsoft will offer a public preview later this year, Dezen said. “Through this resource, we’re helping ISV partners access benefits to build and publish apps faster, accelerate innovation, and reach more customers,” she noted.


Microsoft’s Casey McGee

Casey McGee, Microsoft’s vice president of global ISV partner sales, elaborated in a separate blog post on the ISV Success Program. McGee outlined some of the program’s benefits, including Cloud sandbox and developer tools to develop and publish applications to Microsoft’s commercial marketplaces, product-specific resources and events such as access to webinars, workshops and various experts.

“Whether you’re building your first app, migrating from another cloud provider, or selling your established solutions through Microsoft, we’re defining clear pathways to your goals,” McGee noted. “One of our top priorities is helping you deliver quality, high-performing cloud solutions to customers across every market and industry.”

McGee also noted that while Microsoft designed the current Solutions Partner designations for those who provide service, the company is developing specialized ISV designations. “These will help you differentiate your solutions to customers by industry-specific scenarios and broader technology and line-of-business capabilities,” he said. The first pilots, he added, will focus on healthcare, retail and financial services industry solutions.

Want to contact the author directly about this story? Have ideas for a follow-up article? Email Jeffrey Schwartz or connect with him on LinkedIn.


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About the Author(s)

Jeffrey Schwartz

Jeffrey Schwartz has covered the IT industry for nearly three decades, most recently as editor-in-chief of Redmond magazine and executive editor of Redmond Channel Partner. Prior to that, he held various editing and writing roles at CommunicationsWeek, InternetWeek and VARBusiness (now CRN) magazines, among other publications.

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