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Microsoft continues to update channel partners program

Adding to Microsoft's ongoing restructuring of its channel sales program, the software giant is causing many partners to weigh their options regarding how to utilize their Microsoft Channel Network investments.

As part of an effort to distinguish between sectors within the channel, partners are no longer able to achieve blanket Gold of Certified channel partner designations. Instead, they must decide which of 29 separate MPN technology competencies are applicable to them, as well as perform in new testing and skills measurements.

Channel partners are also required to hire or contract a designated number of Microsoft Certified Professionals in order to achieve a Gold of Certified status, effectively turning the titles into incentives unto themselves.

"The big changes in MPN are designed to make partners more accountable for the benefits they receive," Rick Oppedisano, executive director of channel sales for Seattle-based Microsoft partner Azaleos, told CRN. "If someone claims to be an exchange expert, they have to prove they are, instead of just having to take a test."

The changes at Microsoft reflect more focus on the channel – suggesting the Washington-based company's need to improve sales as more of its revenue stems from this source.