The tech industry is constantly in adapting. Microsoft has announced a major update for direct partners: the qualifying requirements are changing. A series of questions have subsequently arisen from the MSP community. What does this mean for my business? Will the introduction of the New Commerce Experience (NCE) change things? What should I be looking for in an indirect provider? Our panel of Pax8 industry experts met in early December to discuss Microsoft’s announcement and what it means for the MSP community.

The Pax8 Panel

Our panel comprised of three industry experts

  1. Robert Belgrave, CEO of Pax8 UK
  2. Phylip Morgan, CCO of Pax8 UK
  3. Kevin Macdonald, VP of the Wirehive Division, Pax8 UK

How is direct partnership with Microsoft actually changing?

In the words of Robert Belgrave, Microsoft are making it harder to qualify as a direct partnership. In order to register or maintain your direct partnership with the provider, your business will have to meet certain thresholds. Businesses unable to meet these requirements may have questions regarding what comes next, and are potentially having to reframe their relationship with Microsoft.  

What are the updated requirements outlined by Microsoft? 

  • Your business must transact at least $300’000 in CSP program annual revenue 
  • You must have the authority to accept and sign legal agreements on behalf of your organisation 
  • You must have the ability to be able to provide the first level of cloud product support to your customers. 
  • Your business must have the infrastructure in place to manage customer billing and provisioning 
  • Your business must have transacted as an indirect CSP reseller for a minimum of 12 months. 

Whilst the qualifying requirements for direct partnership have been updated, many key facets of a business’s relationship with Microsoft remain unchanged. The panel urges you to retain your silver or gold competency. The provider recognises that regardless of the nature of your partnership, your skills remain unchanged. Direct and indirect partners possess the same skills and capabilities regardless, so neither one is prioritised above the other when it comes to showcasing partners to prospective clients. You’ll also be entitled to the same back-end incentives regardless of your relationship with Microsoft- there are no under-the-table handouts to direct partners. 

What is the New Commerce Experience, and what does it mean for partners?

The New Commerce Experience (NCE) is designed to reconfigure the market and support Microsoft partners and end-users. Due to be launched in March 2022, the NCE will transition subscriptions like Office 365, Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365 and others to a simpler purchasing process. The Experience is designed to be a simplified and more consistent user experience for both the customer and the partner. Furthermore, the introduction of the NCE is intended to put Microsoft partners in an advantageous position ahead of the competition. The streamlined process, combined with lengthy product trials, will put the partners’ offering in a more favourable position to their competitors’.  

The panel was asked by a viewer whether the New Commerce Experience was nudging people towards a direct partnership with Microsoft– the consensus across the board was ‘no.’ Robert Belgrave notes that although the move could be interpreted in this light, that’s almost certainly not Microsoft’s ambition- the NCE would be at odds with the updated requirements for direct partnership. The panel highlights that there are no benefits to operating as either a direct or indirect partner. Regardless as to your business’s working relationship with Microsoft, your silver or gold Microsoft membership retains its value, and you’ll be entitled to the same back-end incentives.

 

What should an MSP look for in an indirect provider?

As formerly direct partners continue to scout for the ideal new indirect provider, our panel share some tips and tricks when for securing a partnership with a provider to suit your business’s needs and culture. Needless to say, there are a variety of benefits that come from operating as an indirect reseller, with the additional MSP support and simplified billing but two examples.

When looking for an indirect provider to suit your business, our panel advise that you consider the support that will be available to your business through your provider. Modern technology is a powerful tool, but it pays to know that you’ll be supported if anything goes wrong. Pax8 offers 24/7, 365 tech support, giving partners and their end-users peace of mind.

'Technology is founded on logic, but it doesn't always run with it' - Kevin Macdonald on why it's important to have support if your plan doesn't go to plan.

 

Partnering with Pax8 will grant your business access to training resources and classes. The vendors available to your business through Pax8 is ever-expanding, and we’ll make sure you’re kept up-to-date with their offerings in our regular classes.

  • Launch Briefings are designed to help you discover how to take your cloud business to the next level
  • Mission Briefings will help you learn more about the latest cross-sell and up-sell strategies and techniques
  • Bootcamps will give you a deeper insight into leading Microsoft products. 

Our panel also recommend that you scope your prospective provider’s ability to scale alongside your business. Should you need to upscale or downscale your business, would you be able to do some quickly and painlessly? With Pax8, you’ll be able to buy licenses as and when you need them, and have them within your possession ready to sell on in minutes. Robert Belgrave advises asking the difficult questions early on. If a prospective provider tells you they’d be able to scale with your business, don’t take their word for it- ask for a demonstration.

Yet, arguably the biggest benefit of going indirect is the simplified billing. Manual billing is a long and laborious process- it can take days, and money can slip through the cracks. Phylip Morgan reflects on the benefits of partnering with Pax8, and the time that can be saved each month through our simplified billing system. The process is quick, easy and simple to understand. Moreover, the billing system integrates directly into PSA systems, saving your team hours every month.

 

We know that you’re unlikely to just sell Microsoft products. It’s no secret that an MSP business can boost its profit margins by selling additional products- Acronis, Bitdefender and SentinelOne, for example. Pax8 is a cloud agnostic provider- we already have 25 vendors providing UK partners with the latest cloud technology, and our list continues to grow.  

The next steps

Whether you’re transitioning from a direct to indirect partnership with Microsoft, or looking to sign up as an indirect from the get-go, the team at Pax8 has you covered. We’ll offer you the support and training you need to get started. 

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