Microsoft Introduces Partner Programs for ASPs, ISVs
- By Scott Bekker
NEW YORK -- For the past eight years, Microsoft Corp.
has certified consulting
organizations with its Microsoft Certified Solution Provider (MCSP) program, but other key Microsoft partners, such as ISVs and ASPs have
been left in the lurch. An announcement today by Microsoft attempts to close
the gap and reassure customers about the quality of vendors.
Today at Internet World, Microsoft announced
its new Microsoft Certified Partner and Microsoft Certified Gold Partner
programs, to give users a unified brand for selecting consulting services,
software vendors, ASPs, and vendors doing contract software development.
"What can we do to improve the clarity
between our partners?" asks Rosa Garcia, general manager of Microsoft
partner programs. Garcia felt that the abundance of Microsoft certifications
has diluted certifications and created confusion among the customer base. Garcia
believes that the unified two-tier approach will simplify choosing products and
services for customers.
Garcia says that 96 percent of Microsoft revenue
is derived from partners, so having a clear partnership system is critical for
Microsoft's success. Garcia also point to the rapidly shifting e-business
market, where a single mistake in selecting a vendor can make or break a
company. "The customers don't want to be a guinea pig for anyone."
To reduce the amount of experimentation by
support vendors, Microsoft is introducing a new rubric for certifying partners,
and took a two-tiered approach for labels. Vendors who meet the specifications
are anointed "Microsoft Certified Partners," while partners who go
above and beyond can reach the heights of "Microsoft Certified Gold
The specifications for certifying ISVs as
certified partners run in addition to certifying an application. If 35 percent
of an ISVs output is certified for the Windows platform, the company can apply
to become a partner. Unlike consulting organizations, Microsoft certifies ISVs
on the basis of code, rather than people.
Quality of service is the critical factor for
ASPs who wish to gain certification within the programs. Microsoft engineers
visit on site, to check out the operating environment, to see whether the
partner can deliver on services offered to customers.
Microsoft began its Microsoft Certified
Solutions Provider program to ensure that consulting organizations meet a
certain level of service. – Christopher
Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.