Microsoft’s MPN to Become Microsoft Cloud Partner Program, Partners Must Achieve Scores

Gold and silver designations will be replaced with base, solution and expert.

Jeffrey Schwartz

March 16, 2022

4 Min Read
Change Ahead

The Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) will undergo a major revamp when the company rebrands it the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program. Microsoft’s MPN shake-up, revealed on Wednesday, will go into effect in October and impacts the company’s entire partner ecosystem.


Microsoft’s Rodney Clark

Microsoft partners will see the most significant change to the way they are recognized in 15 years, channel chief Rodney Clark acknowledged.

Notably, Microsoft is doing away with gold and silver partner designations. Instead, the company will identify partners as base, solution and expert partners, based on their specializations and expertise. The changes aim to let all Microsoft partners benefit from the growth experienced from its most successful ones, Clark said. (Read Clark’s blog on the topic here.)

The Microsoft Cloud Partner Program is based on those with expertise in six primary offerings: Azure data and AI, Azure infrastructure, Azure digital and app innovation, business applications, modern work and security.

Expanding Growth Opportunities

Clark said on average, the entire Microsoft partner base has experienced growth at an average pace of 32%. But Clark observed that a substantial subset of partners is experiencing double that growth, and some up to 140%. Clark said that subset isn’t trivial; it consists of thousands of partners.

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Moreover, those that are growing at that faster pace have invested in specializations, leveraging digital marketplaces and selling cloud services. These partners are also the most active in partner-to-partner engagements working with those that offer complementary capabilities, he added. Also, he said they are among the most active participants in Microsoft’s co-sell programs.

Microsoft is revamping the program to allow more of its partners to experience the growth its most successful ones have achieved, according to Clark.

“The Microsoft Cloud Partner Program is an evolution of our Microsoft Partner Network and focuses on driving Microsoft Cloud value with and through each and every partner in our ecosystem,” he said. “The Microsoft Cloud Partner Program is for all partners in our ecosystem, whether they build and sell services, software solutions, or whether or not they’re focused on devices.”

Partner Benefits

Clark emphasized that Microsoft is not taking away any benefits away from the MPN program that it is revamping. Microsoft is increasing its investments in partners by 25%, according to Clark.

“We’re not removing any benefits; we’re investing to accelerate,” he said. “And as part of that investment, we’re introducing new cloud products so that we have more users for cloud subscriptions available to our partners, [and so] we have greater flexibility available to our partners to leverage and utilize Azure credits.”

Microsoft will steer the bulk of those benefits to those who reach specialized and expert status, Clark said. Among other things, they will have expanded access to include Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Viva.

“This is a very intentional approach to ensuring that our partners, every single partner in our ecosystem, has the opportunity to grow and develop with us and evolve with us through this new program,” he said.

Measuring Partners with New Capability Scores

To determine partners’ designations, Microsoft will measure their performance, skills and customer success with a partner capability score (PCS). Microsoft will consider certification, new customers, successful deployments and growth to determine a partner’s PCS, according to Clark. Partners must achieve at least 70 points out of 100. As of now, only partners will be able to see the scores, not customers.

Partners can see their capability scores in a new dashboard in the Microsoft Partner Center. The tool will also measure a partner’s technical skills. If there’s a gap, guide them on how to reach the minimum score of 70.

“And we’ll also be investing in marketing out to our broad customer base to showcase and highlight the value that we perceive and that we will see in this new Microsoft Cloud Partner Program,” Clark said.

Clark said all MPN partner global admins now have immediate access to the new dashboard. Besides seeing where their scores currently stand, it will guide those who don’t meet the requirements on the steps they can take.

Key Dates

While the program is available on Oct. 3, partners will have up to 18 months to transition from MPN. After that date, when partners’ annual renewal dates come up, they can either renew into MPN for one more year or move into the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program.

“We are engaging with our ecosystem and giving plenty of time for our partners to understand where and how they should be investing.”

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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