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Are You Ready for MPN?

The International Association of Microsoft Certified Partners held its first-ever national meeting yesterday where the forthcoming new Microsoft Partner Network (MPN), the Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) and Microsoft's emphasis on the shift to cloud computing were front-and center.

Nearly 1,000 partner firms are members of IAMCP. The goal of yesterday's held event was to reinforce the IAMCP's mandate that partners should network with one another and create relationships by which they go to market together in areas where their skills are complimentary.

"We see an opportunity to really help you gain more information and connections to grow your business," said Cindy Bates, VP of Microsoft's U.S. Partner Strategy, who was the keynote speaker. Bates used her pulpit to talk up MPN -- launched at last year's WPC but set for some key changes to be rolled out this year. For a deep dive on the MPN see Scott Bekker's full report.

As far as many partners are concerned, MPN spells uncertainty. Approximately 60 to 70 percent of the IAMCP are now Gold Certified Partners, said Kerry Gerontianos, president and CEO of New York-based Incremax Technologies and president of the U.S. IAMCP, in an interview following the presentation. That's because it is unclear how those partners will rank under the new structure, which looks to create an advanced certification for some of Microsoft's largest partners.

Gerontianos, who hosted the event at Microsoft's New York City office, talked to me about satisfaction with MPN so far by IAMCP members. "I would say it's mixed," he said. "I think there is a lot of concern about MPN." While Bates did little to address how partners may be affected down the road, she did tell the several hundred in attendance that she considers IAMCP an important constituency.

"IAMCP and its very impressive partner community is closely and strategically aligned with Microsoft and, in our view, is one of the most [important] communities in the industry, fostering and facilitating partner-to-partner connections," Bates said.  "I have seen first-hand how partners have increased revenue as a result of p-to-p networking, identifying new customer opportunities through point solution delivery, expanding geographical reach or increasing capabilities through partnerships."

Of course those are mere platitudes to those partners that may find themselves having to invest in further certifications or losing their existing status. To its credit, the IAMCP is pushing hard for Microsoft to take the needs of smaller but high-revenue producing partners into consideration when rolling out MPN. How that will play out remains to be seen.

What's your take on MPN? How do you see it affecting you? And how does Microsoft's "we're-all-in" the cloud emphasis potentially impact your business moving forward? Drop me a line at jschwartz@1105media.com.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 05/20/2010 at 1:14 PM


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