Microsoft Revamps Cloud Partner Program with AI

Microsoft announced its Cloud Partner Program has been rebranded the "Microsoft AI Cloud Partner Program," infusing AI into the program's name and wares.

The company's partner program provides perks ranging from technical consultations to sales help.

"The Microsoft AI Cloud Partner Program brings together everything across the entire partner lifecycle, including onboarding, skilling, go-to-market, incentives, and co-selling," the company said in a post published today, July 18, at the beginning of its Inspire event. "Partners get all the value and benefits of the previous program, plus access to new offerings and benefits specific to AI."

[Click on image for larger view.] Microsoft AI Cloud Partner Program (source: Microsoft).

Main hallmarks of the Microsoft AI Cloud Partner Program include:

  • Access to Microsoft technology and cloud investments to deliver successful solutions to customers
  • Eligibility for a solutions partner designation that showcases validated capabilities in high-demand cloud solution areas
  • A benefits package that includes technical enablement, marketing support, sales tools and incentives
  • Opportunities to connect and innovate with Microsoft partners from around the world at events such as Microsoft Inspire

One popular part of the program is Solutions Partner designations that provide many of the above benefits:

[Click on image for larger view.] Solutions Partner Designations (source: Microsoft).

Now, AI is added to the mix, as the company has done across a wide swath of its products and services.

Current partners need not do anything associated with the revamp, as Microsoft automatically moved them to the new program where they maintain their existing benefits and designations.

The company didn't provide much additional information about new offerings and benefits specific to AI that will come with the program rename/revamp, with an associated FAQ stating "We'll share more information soon."

What was shared today was a list of previous AI-related moves by the company, with one bit of news being an increase in the scale and availability of Azure Migrate & Modernize and an all-new Azure Innovate investment. The company said: "Azure Innovate is a dedicated, incremental $100M investment in response to the incredible demand for Analytics with the announcement of Microsoft Fabric and AI with our Azure OpenAI Service."

Microsoft said other new AI-focused offerings and benefits to help partners adopt this technology to deliver customer success and in their own organization include:

  • Build your own AI practice leveraging the new AI Transformation Playbook which provides guidance from skilling and innovating, through marketing to selling.
  • Differentiate your organization's AI capabilities with a Build and Modernize AI Apps with Microsoft Azure specialization to demonstrate your organization's deep technical expertise, skills, and demonstrated customer success building intelligent apps across AKS, Cosmos DB, and AI. Specializations also enable partners to unlock co-sell benefits aligned to the solution play. Combined with the six Business Applications specializations launched earlier this year, this brings a total of 31 technical specializations in market.
  • Tap into key marketing resources, including the new “Era of AI” marketing campaign in a box, and a suite of ready-to-go marketing assets, designed for whether you're looking for a ready-to share marketing campaign in a box or want to customize your own demand-gen marketing campaign.
  • Register for the Security Copilot design advisory council, a new way for partners who are interested in building their own solutions and services powered by Security Copilot to engage early with Microsoft.
  • Accelerate moving customers' business applications to the cloud so they can take advantage of AI guided productivity with AIM (Accelerate, Innovate, Move) and access a team of migration advisors, expert business value and technology assessments, investment offers, tools and migration support for qualified customers.

The revamped partner program may well leverage many of the company's existing AI-related capabilities, products and services, which according to the company's cloud-centric AI site include:

  • Applied AI services: Accelerate AI development with built-in business logic that enables you to launch solutions in days—not months. Run responsibly with security that extends from cloud to intelligent edge.
  • Cognitive services: Build with AI services that achieve human parity in computer vision, speech, and language. Leverage a comprehensive family of customizable cognitive APIs including OpenAI models.
  • Machine learning: Azure's end-to-end platform lets you develop with Jupyter Notebook, drag-and-drop designer, and automated machine learning. Build with best-in-class support for open-source frameworks.
  • Database services: Build cloud-native applications or modernize existing applications with fully managed, flexible databases. Focus on application development, not database management.
  • Analytics: Transform any data into timely insights at enterprise scale. Meet your business intelligence and machine learning objectives with a platform of services that offer unmatched performance and security.
  • Data governance: Microsoft Purview makes it possible for anyone in your organization to explore, access, and analyze data. Purview is a unified solution that enables automated data discovery, sensitive data classification, and end-to-end data lineage.

Microsoft's announcement discussed an "AI opportunity" and detailed how the revamped partner program fits in: "Partners who lean into this new economic opportunity are creating value for their customers, for their own company, and for the greater economy of their community or country. Microsoft succeeds when our partners succeed, and we are committed to supporting you along the way. Microsoft AI enables partners to monetize our intellectual property (IP), monetize your own IP, and monetize your services."

A bullet-point list of those three monetizations adds "the edge:"

  • Monetize IP: Accelerate time to market, value creation, and market differentiation by building innovative and scalable software and solutions on the leading AI platform.
  • Monetize services: Enrich your AI services portfolio to empower customer innovation and success on the most comprehensive AI platform & ecosystem.
  • Monetize value-add services: Reinvent your value-add services portfolio to amplify human ingenuity by partnering with a responsible AI partner.
  • Monetize the edge: Innovate with AI-enabled partner devices powered by Microsoft AI to empower new consumer, commercial, and education experiences.

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.


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