By Christian Waters, Director, Delivery at TrueNorth IT

TrueNorth was pleased to achieve Microsoft Gold Partnership in Cloud Platform in October 2021, after holding Silver in Cloud Platform status for several years.

This article summarises what the Gold Partnership requirements are, what the benefits are, and what options there are to qualify for other elements of the partner programme.

How to qualify for Microsoft Gold Partnership

There are several different options to qualify for Gold:

  • Azure Consumption: $100,000 of Azure Consumption must be recognised via your Digital Partner of Record association, or via a Partner Admin Link.
  • Hosting: This option is for Service Providers and Cloud Solution Providers and recognises revenue through these two options.
  • Distributor: For Authorized Distributors or CSP Indirect Providers.
  • Learning: For partners that specialise in delivering training and Microsoft Learning products.

We qualified through the Azure Consumption option by virtue of being the Digital Partner of Record for several customers with large Azure estates.

In addition to the revenue qualification, each option specifies certain exams that must be passed by employees of the business. For the Azure Consumption option, two employees must qualify for the Azure Developer Associate certificate.

It is worth noting that certain competencies require many more employees to obtain qualifications than the two required for Cloud Platform. As with their exam content, it seems Microsoft use their competencies to nudge partners in their strategic direction. Exam content and requirements therefore change regularly to reflect Microsoft’s priorities.

Benefits of Microsoft Gold Partnership

Indirect benefits

The indirect benefits of a Microsoft partnership include being able to use the partnership logo in our marketing materials, providing customers with reassurance that we are genuine experts in this area. Additionally, various public tenders we have participated in require Gold partnership to qualify.

Direct benefits

Some of the key benefits of our partnership include:

  • $12,000 of Azure credits for internal use – we use Azure extensively for our own internal use.
  • Free licences for a range of Microsoft products, including:
    • Visual Studio enterprise (25 licenses)
    • Dynamics 365 – CE (60 licenses)
    • Microsoft 365 E3 (100 licenses).
  • $100 per employee of monthly Azure credits – at TrueNorth this is used for personal test VMs, trying out new products etc.

Conservatively, these benefits save TrueNorth some $30,000 per year in licenses and Azure costs.

Commerce incentives

A final benefit of qualifying for Gold is it allowed us to participate in the ‘Azure enterprise and self-service incentive’ commercial incentive. This gives us 1% of qualifying Azure spends which are paid monthly. For us this translates to a few thousand dollars a year.

What’s next for our Gold Partnership status?

There are various partnership opportunities to pursue beyond Gold. Of particular interest to us are:

  • Azure Advanced Specialization: Advanced Specializations recognise skill in particular areas of Azure and would help distinguish us from our competition. Of particular interest are the ‘Modernization of Web Applications to Microsoft Azure’ and the ‘Power Apps’ Specializations.
  • Azure enterprise and self-service accelerator Commerce Incentive: Offers a 3% incentive on Azure consumption, but requires either an Azure Expert MSP or an Azure Advanced Specialization to qualify.
  • Further competencies:
    • We also have Silver status in Application Development. There are many other competencies available and we regularly review the changing requirements to see which ones make sense to go for.
    • We would love to have some recognition of the work we do on Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement. However, the requirements seemed to be geared towards larger consultancies and so are not immediately achievable.
    • In terms of direct benefits, there is little advantage to us currently of adding more competencies, unless they would save on licensing or other costs. However, the indirect benefits are still significant.

For further information on how our Microsoft expertise can help your organisation, click here.

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