Partner Center Technical Corner: December 2023 edition - Microsoft AI Cloud Partner Program
Headshot_MonileeKeller
Monilee Keller Partner Group Program Manager
Dec 12,2023

Partner Center Technical Corner: December 2023 edition

Man types on a laptop in a modern workspace.

As we wrap up another transformative year, we are excited to cover a range of topics including today’s spotlight: Incentives. We will also explore the latest on the new commerce experience in CSP, rewarding customer performance, membership, accounts, and co-sell. Finally, we will close with a few critical reminders on our joint journey to Zero Trust. 

Spotlight: Enhancing partner and customer engagement through Microsoft Commerce Incentives

Microsoft rewards partners for “partner activities,” meaning any activity conducted by an eligible partner with an eligible customer that drives the customer’s intent to buy or use products and/or services. There are many different activities that claiming partners of record can be compensated for, including one-on-one workshops, Azure migrations, solution assessments, and more. The journey of partner activities onto Microsoft Commerce Incentives (MCI) has been split across three phases: first, building the one-on-one activities capability on MCI and extending it to all business groups; second, integrating MCI activities capabilities with Microsoft seller systems; and third, rewarding partners by linking activities to sales and usage and enabling support for one or many activities. 

The partner activities capability (phase 1 above) was originally launched in early 2022 and has seen a 700% increase in active engagements across all solution areas (Azure, Modern Work, Business Applications, etc.) to date. A recent key evolution related to phase 2 is the variable pay pattern that provides integration with the Microsoft seller system, allowing partners to work with customers based on active opportunities with Microsoft.  

The variable pay pattern for partner activities benefits partners by: 

  • Moving from a bifurcated Power App experience where partners had to first navigate to view their activities to a single standardized experience in Partner Center 
  • Providing a transparent and fully partner-led workflow, allowing partners to discover opportunities and understand the potential payout corresponding to a customer opportunity 
  • Delivering new, simplified, and intuitive experiences based on the trusted fixed pay pattern 

Learn more about Microsoft Commerce Incentives.  

Securing the channel

To simplify assessment and enhancement of your current security posture in Partner Center, we are excited to announce two new dashboards. The Security Requirements Dashboard consolidates the status of all security requirements into a single comprehensive score, enabling partners to quickly gauge current security posture (of the tenant) and take any recommended actions. And the Partner Multifactor Authentication (MFA) Dashboard provides visibility into MFA posture for Partners. Here, partners can ascertain which security policies are in use, including conditional access, security defaults, and per user MFA. The “customer” view pivots to show customers and their MFA status, which will be made available in January. 

Several crucial Zero Trust Principle security actions for partners to note:  

  • Verify Explicitly: CSP partners must enable multifactor authentication service when accessing any Microsoft Cloud portal or underlying service. Please ensure every user in your CSP partner organization is protected with MFA.  
  • Use Least Privilege: Delegated admin privilege (DAP) creation is no longer created as of end of November 2023 for CSP partners in the customer onboarding flow. Granular delegated admin privileges (GDAP) default roles will be the default during customer creation and onboarding.  

For the latest on initiatives to advance security engineering, check out the Microsoft Security blog from Charlie Bell, Executive Vice President at Microsoft. 

New commerce experience in CSP

January 2024 marks the next chapter for the new commerce experience in CSP, with Microsoft initiating migration from legacy CSP subscriptions to the new commerce experience. This pivotal shift, scheduled to begin after January 11, 2024, will apply to all commercial subscriptions eligible for migration, ensuring a seamless transition without disrupting the familiar terms, billing plans, and seat counts. Partners are invited to proactively migrate their remaining legacy subscriptions prior to the automated Microsoft-led migration to have more control over the migration processes. 

And there is more on the horizon! We are also introducing new commerce public sector offers in January 2024. A preview of these offers will be available in the December price list preview file, with details to help partners prepare. The Microsoft-led migration for public sector offers will follow on July 1, 2024, ensuring there is ample time for partners to adapt to and embrace the new offers.  

Rewarding partner performance

Partner Center recently unveiled the new Earnings workspace featuring Earnings, Revenue, and Reports pages — a significant milestone in our commitment to refine partner experiences around managing and maximizing earnings. This workspace expands ineligible reason coverage for additional Microsoft commerce incentives engagements, including Modern Work and Business Applications usage, and offers rich filters to view data by solution area, partner role, and payment month. With faster page responses and more efficient downloads, the Earnings workspace is designed to save time during earnings reconciliation, thanks to user-friendly UI insights and enhanced search capabilities. 

As we transition away from the Payouts workspace, stay connected for the continued evolution of the Earnings workspace. 

Membership

Look for the new revamped Membership overview page in Partner Center, giving partners a consolidated view of current membership details, benefits associated with their membership program and various tracks to explore and further enhance the membership journey with Microsoft. 

ISV Success has launched in Partner Center with an integrated signup flow that allows qualified ISVs to enroll directly in Partner Center. Post signup, ISVs can access resources, tools, and benefits directly from Partner Center in the Membership/Benefits workspace. Also for ISVs, the Marketplace Rewards program user experience has been revamped and is now consistent with other programs in Partner Center. Additionally, the rules of the rewards program now allow partners to enjoy benefits on a yearly basis, instead of lifetime earnings.  

For services partners, Solutions Partner designation scores have been refreshed post fiscal year rollover for all six solution areas. Partners are now able to see the latest score and progress to achieve specific Solutions Partner designations. A newly added offering in Partner Center under Microsoft AI Cloud Partner Program allows training partners to achieve qualification status.   

We are also excited to highlight enhancements of insights across several areas. Our Marketplace API now offers robust support for License and VM Image version reports. This streamlined reporting capability can automatically generate reports and partners will observe significantly improved data quality and consistency. The referral insights workspace has also been enhanced to include services co-selling on the Co-sell page. These new Co-sell insights help partners analyze their co-selling performance and track the lifecycle of services co-sell deals. And the new Surface insights summary page helps partners see all individual users who have completed the Surface-related assessments, across the partner global ID. Now partners can easily view both new and historical lists of assessments.  

Accounts and Action Center

To assist partners in meeting their compliance requirements, we have introduced a new Compliance admin role in Partner Center. This role is available to all Microsoft AI Cloud Partner Program and CSP partners and enables partners to designate a specific compliance contact to work with Microsoft. Besides receiving relevant communications and updates from Microsoft, Compliance admins are responsible for: tracking account verification processes and providing required documentation, updating legal business profile information, and arranging and completing required compliance training. Over 770 partners have successfully assigned the Compliance admin role since launch! Learn more about this new role and designate your Compliance admin.  

As part of enrollment into Partner Center, one of the most important steps for partners is account verification. Verification is automated for most partners, but there are scenarios where partners are required to submit additional documents. To help partners move more quickly through this verification process, we have introduced AI assisted verification that provides instant feedback to partners on their submitted documents. The AI assisted verification shows partners the likelihood of verification based on the documents provided and calls out any actions that may require remediation, speeding up the verification process by up to 24 hours.   

Co-sell

The co-sell experience now provides a comprehensive profile of each partner’s capabilities to aid Microsoft sellers in identifying suitable services partners for various customer scenarios. The partner and customer matching algorithms were overhauled as well, fueling a substantial increase in volume of services co-sell deals in the monthly pipeline starting in July 2023 for FY24.  

The referral activity feed, a highly requested feature, now allows referrals team members and admins to track changes. Find this capability on the deal details page via the “view history” button. Also, check out the new home of the Inbound routing rules under the Referrals section, enabling partners to direct incoming co-sell referrals based on the combination of customer country and offer. 

Additionally, the new deal creation workflow has moved from preview and is now available to all partners.  

Partner Center Technical Roadmap and resources