Microsoft Expands Cloud Program, Gives Surface to More Partners

MICROSOFT WORLDWIDE PARTNER CONFERENCE — Microsoft is using part of its annual partner event to espouse the virtues of changes to its Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program.

The Redmond, Washington-based software giant has expanded CSP to more markets – now 131. Perhaps more importantly, Azure – Microsoft’s cloud-computing platform and infrastructure – and CRM Online join Windows Intune, Office 365 and the company’s Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) in the program.

“We couldn’t be more excited about the continued investment we’re making to ensure you – our partners – are able to help our mutual customers transform to the next business era along with us,” wrote Phil Sorgen, corporate vice president, Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group, in a blog.

Also new is the opportunity for more partners to sell Surface, Microsoft’s tablet PC. The company said the number of resellers who can get their hands on the device will increase from a few hundred to a few thousand around the world in the next few months. Calling it “an integral part or our Windows strategy,” Sorgen says expanding Surface channel sales and launching Windows 10 this month should make this an exciting time for partners.

In addition, Microsoft plans to help partners with new certification for Windows 10 and EMS that will help them develop more mobility opportunities, “differentiate their expertise and grow their business.”

But that’s not all. Microsoft will unveil a premium version of the Office 365 enterprise suite, dubbed E5, by year’s end. E5 will offer cloud PBX and Meeting Broadcast as part of Skype for Business. SFB also will include new analytics features and advanced security. The company expects this will give partners a new opportunity to bundle services and reach customers they might not have had access to before.

“In this mobile-first, cloud-first world, those businesses that embrace technology to reinvent themselves and their industries will thrive, and those who embrace status quo risk extinction. It’s Microsoft’s hundreds of thousands of global partners that will bring about this transformation, help our mutual customers through this change and forge the next industrial revolution,” Sorgen wrote.

Follow senior online managing editor Craig Galbraith on Twitter.

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