MPN On Track, Almost


5 Aug 2011
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It has been close to year since Microsoft revamped its partner program to the new Microsoft Partner Network.

While Microsoft is happy with the progress on partner transition to MPN, it also admits that it is still six months away from delivering on the promised results.

“We are on track to achieve the target set to transition our partner ecosystem to MPN. The real benefits of the new program will kick in in the middle of next year when the entire ecosystem has been aligned to MPN and we go into the market with full force,” said Vineet Kshirsagar, Director, Partner Strategy & Programs, Microsoft India.

Kshirsagar informed that 84 percent of the old Gold Certified partners have achieved the same level of certification in at least one competency. “Once they begin seeing the benefits of the new MPN in one competency they will explore more. Many partners are already exploring more competencies,” added Kshirsagar.

Most Microsoft partners are happy with the new MPN; however, a few also opined that Microsoft needs to do more on a couple of counts. For Mumbai-based PH Teknow, the competency-led MPN has meant better focus and support from Microsoft which has led to a 20 percent increase in Microsoft-led revenue. The company is now looking at specializing in desktop virtualization, server and cloud competencies.

“MPN has certainly helped us. Microsoft is also providing strong assistance in the form of marketing funds, training and education for us to gain the most out of our business. That is the reason we plan to specialize in more competencies. However one of the aspects Microsoft needs to work on is to create awareness about the importance of these competencies among the end-customers,” said Paresh Shah, Partner, PH Teknow.

The cost of certification is another bone of contention. The new competencies require partners to get at least four engineers certified against two for Gold certification earlier; the certification fee has also been hiked by at least 40 percent based on the competency level.

Suresh Ramani, CEO of the Mumbai-based TechGyan, defends the hike in fees. “Microsoft is the only vendor that provides weekly onsite and online training. In addition, the competencies bring in a differentiator, and help partners to focus on their strengths,” he said.

Microsoft has also been offering discounts for certification to reduce the blow of the certification cost. “We got group discounts. In addition, of the four engineers we certified for volume licensing, Microsoft offered free onsite training onsite for two,” said Shah.

According to partners, Microsoft has provisioned dedicated resources to help partners benefit from the new competencies. It has also begun investing in partner-led events. Ramani recently hosted an event on cloud opportunities for small businesses; the event was funded by Microsoft. Shah too hosted a meeting for select customers on cloud computing which was funded by Microsoft.

source : CRN
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