Reaching for the Stars: UMB Earns Top Marks in Microsoft Cloud Partner Program.

The Microsoft Partner Network ceased to exist at the beginning of October. It has been replaced by the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program - MCPP for short. With the start of the new program, the familiar gold and silver awards are no longer valid. Around 400,000 Microsoft partner organizations worldwide are affected. In Switzerland, around 5,000 Microsoft partners had to undergo a new assessment. UMB received no less than five of the highest designations in the process.

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Lars Zängerle
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The new Microsoft Cloud Partner Program[i] is aimed at all partners in the Microsoft ecosystem, regardless of whether they provide services, operate a service, or develop software. Microsoft emphasizes that this announcement is about more than just a name change. The new name reflects the enormous shift in business processes to the cloud and illustrates how Microsoft wants to support its partners in the future. The change will also align partners' marketing strategies with customers' current buying patterns.

In fact, the changes in partner status are profound. Gold and silver status, which have been the benchmarks of competence for many years, are eliminated. Smaller partners in particular are faced with problems as a result. Microsoft is now referring to six Solutions Partner designations, which can be attained along Microsoft's product portfolio (Azure, Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365 & Security). Compared to the previous awards, the requirements for a Solutions Partner designation are much higher. In return, the technical designations of the partners are to become more important.


Competence in six solution areas

The new partner program focuses on vendor competencies in six solution areas, all aligned to the Microsoft Cloud. These are:

Data & AI, Digital & app innovation, infrastructure, business apps, modern work, and security.
Microsoft is also changing the way it categorizes and measures partner capabilities to achieve this. To help customers better understand partner capabilities, two levels of qualification will be offered[ii]. The Solutions Partner Designations level is a designation based on meeting specific requirements. Building on this, Specializations allow to differentiate from competitors and demonstrate deep technical knowledge and experience in specific technical scenarios.


UMB is a five-time Microsoft solution partner

Following the launch of the new Microsoft Cloud Partner Program, UMB AG has immediately achieved five out of six Microsoft Solutions Partner designations and thus belongs to the exclusive circle of Swiss Microsoft Top Partners. UMB is a solution partner in the areas of data & AI, infrastructure, digital & app innovation, modern work, and security. (Not in the UMB portfolio and therefore not in the competition is the area of business apps). However, with five designations gained at the first attempt, UMB AG clearly underlines its comprehensive Microsoft cloud expertise. Only a few Microsoft partners offer such broad-based expertise and corresponding awards, which have been achieved through certifications and customer projects.

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[i] Evolving Microsoft Partner Network programs for partner growth and customer success - The Official Microsoft Blog

[ii] Solutions Partner designations (

An assessment of the new Microsoft Cloud Partner Program MCPP

Some Microsoft partners did not like the Launch of the new Microsoft Cloud Partner Program very much. What is behind the change and why was the new program controversially discussed within the partner ecosystem? An assessment by Lars Zängerle, Sales Consultant UMB AG and Board Member of the IAMCP.

For an estimated 20 years, Microsoft partners have been able to distinguish themselves with a relevant gold designation. The awards were based solely on the achievement of technical certifications. These necessary certifications often no longer matched today's necessary technical qualifications, so that the existence of a gold designation had limited significance.

With the new Microsoft Cloud Partner Program, the requirements for technical certifications have been greatly increased. At the same time, partners must submit references and project successes to validate their growth to Microsoft. The combination of these two requirements makes it nearly impossible for smaller Microsoft partners to achieve the newly required Solutions Partner Designation. However, partners who achieve these requirements will benefit from additional advantages compared to the past.

In summary, the introduction of the new Microsoft Cloud Partner Program leads to a strengthening of already successful partners. Smaller and less specialized Microsoft partners, on the other hand, will have a much harder time in the future. Microsoft is thus moving in line with the trend of market consolidation observed in the Swiss IT channel.