Today, we gathered with more than 16,000 attendees on the opening day of the 2014 Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington, D.C. to talk about opportunities for partners to grow their business and win together with Microsoft in the year ahead.

Putting partners first in our go-to-market strategy has always been key to our joint success, and it will continue to be a priority in today’s mobile-first, cloud-first world.  On stage during today’s Vision Keynote, we made several announcements that put partners at the center of customer cloud adoption.
Guiding Partner Transitions to the Cloud
To better help partners serve our mutual customers in the cloud, we announced that we are integrating the cloud into the Microsoft Partner Network, with three new cloud-focused competencies based on performance for Office 365 and Microsoft Azure. The new competencies are:
  • Small and Midmarket Cloud Solutions: For partners selling Microsoft Office 365 to small and mid-market customers.
  • Cloud Productivity: For partners deploying Microsoft Office 365 for enterprise customers.
  • Cloud Platform: For partners who specialize in delivering infrastructure, PaaS and SaaS solutions on Microsoft Azure.
With the announcement today, we will retire the Cloud Accelerate, Cloud Deployment and Azure Circle programs and provide a path for partners to migrate to the new cloud competencies.
We are also changing the way we integrate cloud into our competencies to make it easier for partners to invest more in their business and plan to do this in four ways, as Gavriella details further in her blog:
  1. Waiving the first year fee for Silver cloud competencies
  2. Enhancing Internal Use Rights for Office 365 and Azure, providing between 25% and 200% more IUR licenses depending on the competency level achieved
  3. Signature Cloud Support is our exclusive support solution that helps cloud partners better support their customers. Launching in September, Signature Cloud Support provides partners with direct contact into a high-quality support team.
  4. To enable partners to continue to make the investments necessary to succeed in the cloud, we also announced that we are reducing the fees for on-premises competencies by up to 10%.
Another way we are helping partners transition to the cloud is by providing the tools and resources to get started on our new cloud services. Today we’re announcing Azure Machine Learning University, a portfolio of online self-service learning assets designed to get partners started with Azure ML. Machine Learning University will provide partners with an overview of Azure ML, and walk through the data science life cycle from importing data to building predictive models and deploying in production.
Putting Partners at the Center of Customer Cloud Adoption
To meet the growing demand of our cloud-based solutions, it is essential that we continue to evolve our partner programs and licensing models to make it easier for partners and customers to purchase, deploy and use Microsoft solutions. The Microsoft Cloud Solutions Provider program allows partners to own 100 percent of the customer lifecycle, with partners serving as the only contact for all customer needs, including: billing, provisioning, support and, most importantly, the ability to sell their own tools, products and services. This new program provides our partners with complete control, and ensures our mutual customers can rely on their partner to ensure they’re getting the most out of their Microsoft cloud solutions. This program starts with Office 365 and Windows Intune, and will eventually cover all Microsoft cloud services. For more on this and other news from Office, visit here.
To help partners transact Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online to their existing and new customers through the licensing model they are used to, we shared that Dynamics CRM Online will be coming to Open later this fiscal year. Together with the evolution of the Dynamics partner program to emphasize readiness and training, the addition of Dynamics CRM Online to Open will make it easier to sell to SMBs – a huge market opportunity for our partners. This comes on the heels of our announcement to offer Azure in Open, coming in August. By offering all of our commercial cloud solutions in Open partners have a consistent and familiar licensing option that offers the benefits of Microsoft Volume Licensing, flexible monetary payments, and additional opportunities to grow revenues and deepen customer relationships.
Connecting Customers with Partner Solutions
Customer adoption of Microsoft Azure continues to accelerate, with an average of more than 1,000 customers signing up every day. Building on some 5,000 partner apps and services running or ready for use on Azure today, we are announcing the Azure Certified program. This new logo certification program will empower Microsoft partners to grow their business through new opportunities to promote and sell their applications and services on Azure. Today the program begins as Microsoft Azure Certified for Virtual Machines, with partner applications offered in virtual machines that are deployable from the Azure Management Portal. Early program members include Azul Systems, Barracuda, Bitrock, Oracle, Riverbed Technologies and SAP. Learn more on the Azure blog.
In addition, Microsoft will increase efforts to help partners better reach and target small and midsized business prospects with a new marketing initiative called ModernBiz. With the goal to help partners more easily drive awareness and demand in the US and worldwide, ModernBiz focuses on business issues and cross-product solution scenarios tailored to the specific needs of SMBs. For additional details, check out available materials here.
We are also making it easier for organizations to license and manage Microsoft products and online services through the Microsoft Products and Services Agreement (MPSA) – find out more here.
Monetize the Cloud faster
We’ve shown that partners can build profitable business models with the cloud. And recently, through the latest version of our IDC-commissioned research, partners have actionable insights into how to achieve profitability in the cloud.
Today’s announcements take steps to make it more valuable, less expensive and easier for partners to do business with Microsoft and together we have a unique opportunity to help customers embrace the mobile-first, cloud first world with a differentiated vision for the future.
If you missed today’s keynote, you can visit to watch the replay and you can also keep up with additional WPC news on Microsoft News Center.