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What is the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program?

The Microsoft Partner Network has been changed to the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program. But what does this reset entail, and what should partners be aware of when evaluating the new benefits gained from the program?

In this latest entry of P2PNow, we go over the biggest takeaways from Microsoft’s revamped channel program: changes to partner certifications, changes to cloud-based productivity suite pricing, and The New Commerce Experience (NCE) for seat-based offerings. Feel free to watch the video or read the full transcript below!


Christian: The question for this episode is “What is the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program?”

Sam: If there’s one thing we can count on in life, it’s change. Though isn’t this just a rebranding of the Microsoft Partner Network?

Christian: It’s a bit more than a rebrand, but yes. MPN is now MCPP, or the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program. It’s a reset of the program, a streamlining of some aspects, and a stronger focus on the cloud.

Sam: Microsoft regularly adjusts and refines their channel strategies, especially when there have been major leadership changes. When Rodney Clark took over as Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President of Channel Sales and picked up the “Channel Chief” mantle, we expected there would be some changes. So what are the big takeaways from this reset of the channel program?

Christian: Aside from the rename of MPN to MCPP, there are three main areas that partners need to read up on and become familiar with:

  1. The change to partner certifications
  2. Cloud-based productivity suite price changes
  3. The New Commerce Experience (NCE) for seat-based offerings

Sam: That’s a lot of ground to cover.

Christian: Yes, there’s a lot of detail behind it, so partners should definitely read up on these changes and understand the potential impacts to their business. But let me provide some quick highlights:

  • In terms of partner certifications, Gold and Silver status are being replaced by specializations and expert programs all focused around six service areas with Microsoft Cloud:
    • Business Applications
    • Modern Work
    • Security
    • Azure Data and Artificial Intelligence
    • Azure Infrastructure
    • Azure Digital and Applications Innovation

Partner performance against these six service areas will be measured by a new telemetry-based Partner Capability Score (or PCS) looking at partner performance, skilling, and customer success.

On the topic of cloud-based productivity suite price changes, monthly user charges are increasing anywhere from $1 to $4 per user per month depending on the plan.

Sam: This is the first change to pricing we’ve seen in some time, isn’t it?

Christian: Yes, it’s been a while, and honestly, I’m not surprised. In fact, I think it’s fairly reasonable given the value within each SKU. And finally, we have the New Commerce Experience (NCE) for seat-based offerings. 

Microsoft is streamlining licensing from 20 options to 3:

    1. A CSP partner “breadth” motion that includes a track through dashboard, the ability to schedule seat counts and log automatic term renewals, and SKU conversions
    2. An enterprise motion
    3. And a self-service motion

The goal is also to simplify partner and customer software licensing. Some smaller CSPs are giving up direct access and working more closely with their distributors to avoid headaches. 

Sam: Of course, these 3 items do not cover all of the changes with the MCPP rebrand, but hopefully it gives our partners a quick snapshot of what’s changing and where to get started in their education process.

Christian: Exactly. 

Sam: Thanks for those details, Christian. And for those Microsoft partners who are watching, if you haven’t already done so, be sure to join AvePoint’s Partner Program by going to!

Keep up with P2PNow and all of our series by subscribing to our blog.

Christian Buckley
Christian Buckley
An Office Apps & Services MVP and Microsoft Regional Director, Christian Buckley is an internationally recognized author and speaker and runs the community-focused CollabTalk blog, podcast, and tweetjam series.
Sam Valme
Sam Valme
Sam Valme is Senior Director of Partner Experience at AvePoint, working out of our Arlington, Virginia office.

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