Microsoft® Partner Network Protests Before Inspire Conference

By George Lattimore Posted August 2, 2019

Just a few weeks ago, Microsoft® partners around the world received this sobering message in their Azure® console: “Starting in October 2019, performance thresholds for Small and Midmarket Cloud Solutions Competency will be updated. See below for the updated requirements.”

A summary of the stipulations and reductions Microsoft proposed to enforce on Partners is tallied as follows:

  • Your free use of 25 O365 licenses will be removed
  • Your $100/mo Azure® credit will be removed
  • On-premise product support incidents from Silver and Gold and Action Pack Partners will be removed
  • You’re required to increase the annual number of new O365 tenants required from 4 orgs to 10 orgs
  • The minimum of $15k required annually to receive Advanced Support as a Microsoft Cloud Service Provider (CSP) remains

Cutting Out Smaller Managed Service Providers (MSPs) 

Imagine you’d been making a living reselling Microsoft software in IT service bundles to client organizations for the past decade. Since there wasn’t any training offered, you were on your own to use the Internal Use Rights (IUR) software licenses to learn the software and then manage your customers’ IT environments with it. 

To remain a Silver-level Partner, Microsoft suddenly was raising the annual requirements from 4 “new to you” customer organizations in the previous year to 10 “new to Office 365” customer organizations. To remain a Gold-level Partner, the ante was upped to 50 “new to Office 365” customers. For silver-level partners already shelling out $1850/yr, and gold-level partners giving up $5260/yr, on top of the $15k minimum for Advanced Support, this felt more like a slap in the face than a growth incentive. Microsoft Partners then banded together to protest the writing on the wall before the ink could completely dry. 

Microsoft Partner Network Protests & Petitions

One positive outcome to emerge from this tense situation is that MSPs were forced into valuable discussions with each other. Albeit negative and somewhat painful for many Partners feeling devalued and excluded, many fruitful discussions developed, and a level of shared realism was reached concerning how to plan for the future. 

A petition to “disapprove Microsoft Partner Network Changes” received more than 6500 signatures:

“In announcing these changes it’s clear Microsoft is going to war with its Partners. The Partners who have been so loyal to the Microsoft Business and to help it achieve the status of being the most valuable business in the world to be now treated like this is just not fair.” 

Ten days after announcing significant cuts, Microsoft tried to host a twenty minute Ask Me Anything (AMA). More than 230 partners attended the live presentation and voiced their frustrations without resolve. Microsoft promptly removed the recording from YouTube.

An Apology Without a Promise

On July 12th, Gavriella Schuster, Microsoft’s Partner Group Corporate VP, had heard enough, and published a formal apology temporarily rescinding all previous Partner Network Changes:

“As you may know, a couple weeks ago, we announced changes to the program competencies and internal use rights [IURs]. And the response from you, our partner ecosystem, was overwhelmingly negative. We clearly underestimated the value of those benefits and the impact that that would have on you and your businesses.”

The lack of reassurance provided from Microsoft was the final straw for many partners who are claiming to see the writing on the wall. Since when did the vendor take precedent over the customer? After all, it’s the MSP who’s on the line to protect their clients and enable them with the best tools—not the vendor. 

Preparing for A Vendor-Neutral Future

One of the smaller MSPs in Microsoft’s Partner Network summarized the sentiments of many:

“Owning a separate development company myself, I’ve already started taking steps to move out of your ecosystem because I no longer feel that Microsoft has my back. For the first time in 30+ years, I feel like you are trying to shed your smaller partners like they are some sort of a fiscal liability. This is absolutely not how partners should behave.”

Now that the smoke has started to clear, it’s obvious that MSPs are going to have to adapt and adjust to keep their client’s best interest at heart, regardless of vendor demands. A great deal of MS Partners currently use JumpCloud® as well, as the JumpCloud AD Integration tool works alongside Microsoft software in their product stack. Furthermore, MSPs are also actively migrating their client environments to Directory-as-a-Service®. JumpCloud is cross-platform, vendor agnostic, and protocol-driven, and over 700 MSPs are currently enrolled in the Partner Program

MSPs around the world are finding room to run leveraging JumpCloud’s Partner-first policy of 10 free users per client organization and support. Along with competitive Partner pricing, marketing/sales support, and a Multi-Tenant Portal, MSPs are building their bottom line and expanding their clientele with the JumpCloud Partner Program. If you’d like to explore the platform in full and evaluate the features, go ahead—it’s free. Personalized demos for Directory-as-a-Service are also freely available.

George Lattimore

George is a writer at JumpCloud, a central source for authenticating, authorizing, and managing your IT infrastructure through the cloud. With a degree in Marketing and an MS in Public Communications and Technology, George enjoys writing about how the IT landscape is adapting to a diversified field of technology.

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