You’ve probably heard about Microsoft partners and perhaps even wondered how you could work with one of them. The only problem is, choosing a Microsoft partner is not easy – the certifications, qualifications, accreditations, and services offered are often confusing. This blog post is a guide to working with Microsoft partners, explaining the various certification levels and what it would mean for your business to team up with the right partner.
Who is a Microsoft partner?
A Microsoft partner is an official vendor offering Microsoft-related services and products, such as cloud services, software applications, solutions deployment, and dedicated support. The Microsoft Certified Partner program started back in 2000 and has since grown into a vibrant community made up of over 90,000 companies with 7,500 new partners joining the network every month. Partners are an essential part of Microsoft’s ecosystem. In fact, 95 percent of Microsoft’s commercial revenue flows through partners.
It’s unfair to think of Microsoft partners as service or software brokers for Microsoft because they are so much more than that. As a Microsoft partner ourselves, we bridge the gap between the tech giant and enterprise-based consumers, essentially collaborating with businesses in leveraging Microsoft solutions.
Below is a description of the different types of Microsoft partners based on partnership levels and certifications:
Microsoft Certified Partners
This is the lowest Microsoft partnership tier. To become an MCP, a company only needs to sign up on the Microsoft Partner Network and pay a registration fee. This partnership level does not require proof of qualification or experience, but every new partner must select areas of specialization and demonstrate professional competence in those areas to climb up the ranks.
MCPs fall into two distinct categories:
- Managed services providers – A Microsoft certified MSP provides IT management, administration, maintenance, and support services to organizations running native IT infrastructures alongside Microsoft systems.
- Cloud solution providers – CSPs are part of Microsoft’s Cloud Solution Partner Program. They sell and manage enterprise cloud solutions throughout the entire cloud lifecycle, from planning, deployment, and migration to ongoing cloud support. Softlanding is a Microsoft CSP Direct Partner. We help businesses adopt, build, implement, and utilize robust Azure cloud solutions matching the exact needs of each enterprise.
Silver-certified partners must demonstrate Silver-level expertise and experience in specific areas or competencies. The Microsoft partnership program has 18 competency areas divided into four broad categories: applications and infrastructure, business applications, data and AI, and modern workplace and security.
Achieving Silver status means meeting new customer addition and revenue thresholds or annual license requirements, depending on the competency in question. Some competencies – such as data analysis and data security – require some staff members to take curated courses or pass qualification tests. Also, a firm must pay an annual fee and have at least two Microsoft-certified professionals to earn Silver status.
This is the highest certification a Microsoft partner can obtain. A Microsoft Gold partner must demonstrate top-level expertise and proficiency in their specific competency areas. The partner must also have at least four qualified Microsoft Certified Trainers (MCTs), two that have passed the sales and marketing assessment, and one that has passed the licensing overview evaluation. Plus, Gold partners must attain 120 partner points and meet performance thresholds in the various competencies.
The Microsoft Gold Certification is a highly coveted partnership level. Only the top 1 percent of Microsoft partners in a particular area achieve Gold certification. Plus, Microsoft rigorously audits its Gold partners regularly to ensure they maintain world-class service delivery. So, maintaining Gold status is arguably more demanding than acquiring it.
Why choose a Microsoft Gold partner?
If you’re looking to integrate Microsoft solutions into your business processes, working with a certified Microsoft partner is your best bet at getting the best value for your money. But you’ll probably find hundreds of Microsoft partners specializing in your area of interest, making it difficult to make a choice. Remember, the competency certification status indicates the partner’s reputation and trust level with Microsoft, and it doesn’t get better than Gold. Besides, if you are going to team up with a Microsoft partner, why not do it with the very best?
Here are four reasons why you should always go for a Microsoft-Certified Gold partner:
Direct connection to Microsoft
Gold partners have intimate relationships with Microsoft. They have direct access to advanced support for Microsoft services and software. Since the partner represents your business to Microsoft, you get to enjoy fast response times from Microsoft and prioritized customer care. Also, Microsoft Gold partners can escalate cases much more quickly than direct consumers and other Microsoft partners, giving you prompt support whenever needed.
Ideal for proof-of-concept
Microsoft Gold partners have exclusive access to a wide range of tools and licenses, which they can use to demo or model digital enterprise solutions. Think of it as prototyping a solution before fully implementing it. Modelling tangible solutions during IT planning allows you to test-drive an idea before putting it into action. Coming up with a proof-of-concept helps you visualize and optimize your digital strategy instead of blindly betting your hard-earned money on untested investments.
The Microsoft Gold certification is only awarded to firms that demonstrate exceptional proficiency in their field. In other words, Microsoft trusts its Gold partners to deliver top-notch services. Gold certification is basically an endowment from the world’s leading computing company – which says a lot. Whether you’re looking for guidance in deploying or managing Azure cloud services, Office 365, or Teams, a Gold partner guarantees excellent services based on a proven track record confirmed by Microsoft itself.
Up to speed with the latest Microsoft updates
Microsoft products and services, and indeed the IT landscape, evolve and progress over time. Keeping up with these dynamic changes is crucial for maintaining IT efficiency and security. A Gold partner sits at the top of Microsoft’s updates pipeline, meaning they’re always in the loop with whatever Microsoft is up to. Working with a Gold partner not only keeps your systems updated but also allows you early access to the newest Microsoft releases.
Find a Microsoft Gold partner today
Microsoft Gold certification is a mark of proficiency and quality assurance. Don’t sell yourself short; get the best Microsoft solutions and services in the market today by teaming up with a reputable Gold partner.
Softlanding is a Microsoft Gold partner with 14 Microsoft Gold competencies and 1 Silver competency:
- Gold Application Development
- Gold Application Integration
- Gold Cloud Platform
- Gold Cloud Productivity
- Gold Communications
- Gold Collaboration and Content
- Gold Data Analytics
- Gold Datacenter
- Gold Data Platform
- Gold Enterprise Mobility Management
- Gold Messaging
- Gold Project and Portfolio Management
- Gold Security
- Gold Windows and Devices
- Silver Small and Midmarket Cloud Solutions
In addition, Softlanding has seven Microsoft Advanced Specializations that show a partner’s capability to deliver high-fidelity services in a specific solution area:
- Adoption & Change Management
- Identity & Access Management
- Microsoft Teams Calling
- Microsoft Windows Virtual Desktop
- Teamwork Deployment
- Threat Protection
- Windows Server & SQL Server Migration to Microsoft Azure
Our Microsoft Gold Partner status puts us in an advantageous position to help businesses deploy and implement Microsoft solutions.
Reach out to us and learn more about how your business can utilize powerful digital solutions hassle-free, conveniently, and efficiently.