Microsoft has unveiled an Azure program targeting managed service providers (MSPs), with a selection of Australian partners joining a global list of approved experts.
Revealed on the eve of Microsoft Inspire, Arq Group - formerly Melbourne IT - Datacom and Telstra join a select group of 32 cloud specialists as recognised Azure Experts in the world.
Other key providers include DXC Technology, Infosys, Avanade and Rackspace, alongside Wipro, HCL, Cognizant and IBM.
“For Microsoft partners - their success is our success,” said Gavriella Schuster, corporate vice president of One Commercial Partner at Microsoft. “We are squarely focused on delivering a true, two-way partnership with our partner network.”
With Azure revenue growing 93 per cent during the third quarter - and partners driving a “considerable portion” of such growth - Schuster said the new initiative allows the channel to demonstrate “proven expertise” to customers within the context of cloud.
“Partners can now demonstrate that they have the right capabilities to help with specific customer business challenges,” Schuster added.
An Azure Expert MSP is defined as a partner capable of delivering differentiation in the marketplace, with leading providers gaining “top priority” in the tech giant’s referral engine.
Further benefits include taking a lead role for co-sell engagements and leads, in addition to sales and business development enablement through access to training and support.
“These expert partners have proven real world proficiency and skills, for data centre lift-and-shift, born-in-cloud new applications, and everything in-between,” said Corey Sanders, corporate vice president of Azure at Microsoft.
“They have invested in people, process, operations and technology to build and harness deep Azure knowledge and service capabilities.
“They have demonstrated ability to deliver consistent, repeatable, high-fidelity managed services on Azure, proven automation in service workflows and innovation in monitoring and life-cycle operations of complex customer environments
“They’ve trained their staff on Azure and have partnered closely with us in engineering as part of design sessions and focus groups.”
Sanders said Azure Expert MSPs completed a “rigorous audit” by an independent third party to qualify - spanning more than 300 hours of “effort” - in addition to providing multiple customer references of Azure managed services projects delivered over the last 12 months.
“Furthermore, to retain the badge, these expert partners need to continue to meet pre-requisites annually and complete a progress audit every year,” Sanders explained. “As Azure evolves, so will the expectations of our Azure Expert MSPs.
“This framework is built so that you can trust that the MSPs who’ve earned the badge are continuously working to remain true Azure experts.”
Other requirements are that partners must drive at least US$100,000 in Azure consumed revenue per month, operate as a cloud solution provider (CSP) and also have four customer references to share with the market.
“Datacom is proud to be accredited as a Microsoft Azure Expert MSP, one of the few globally,” said Bob Peebles, managing director of Australia Commercial at Datacom, when speaking to sister publication Reseller News.
“We are a foundational partner, providing feedback as part of the initial pilot programme which led to the development of this certification.”
To achieve such status, Datacom had to have a minimum of 15 full-time employees meeting a “very high” technical bar set by Microsoft, in addition to passing a rigorous “64-step audit”.
“It is great to see Datacom’s thought leadership in Azure Cloud being recognised by one of our most valued partners on the global stage,” Peebles added.
The new initiative also aligns to the launch of a dedicated MSP program in Azure, as Microsoft continues to maximise cloud investments through the channel.
“This new program will make it incredibly easy for you to discover and engage highly-capable MSPs for your cloud projects and migrations,” Sanders said.