NicoElNino - Fotolia

Microsoft increases channel exposure to AI

Vendor rolls out fresh specialisation encouraging the channel to embrace the benefits artificial intelligence can deliver

Microsoft has used the backdrop of its Inspire event to cut the ribbon on a fresh AI Cloud partner programme.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is on the lips of every vendor at the moment, with Microsoft no exception, and this programme will give the channel the chance to lean on its capabilities to improve customer cloud experiences.

“Through the Microsoft AI Cloud Partner Programme, we’re providing partners with a comprehensive portfolio of investments for all partner business models at every stage of maturity, from startups to independent software vendors (ISVs], services to device partners,” said Nicole Dezen, chief partner officer and corporate vice-president of global partner solutions at Microsoft, in a blog post.

She pointed out that any doubts that the channel should get involved with AI could be dispelled by strong customer demand, with Azure OpenAI Service being the fastest-growing in Azure’s history.

“We have seen our partner ecosystem rise to meet this demand, with 9,100 partners transacting on Azure AI, more than 2,300 of whom have transacted on the Azure OpenAI service,” she said. “And the day we launched the new Build and Modernize AI Apps with Microsoft Azure specialisation, more than 200 partners had already met the prerequisites for the specialisation, enabling them to showcase their organisation’s expertise to customers and Microsoft sellers.”

The carrot being dangled by the vendor is the opportunity to monetise its IP, the channel’s own efforts and services, and the chance to take a chunk of the growing Edge opportunity.

“The Microsoft AI Cloud Partner Programme brings together everything across the entire partner lifecycle, including onboarding, skilling, go-to-market, incentives and co-selling,” wrote Dezen. “Partners get all the value and benefits of the previous programme, plus access to new offerings and benefits specific to AI.”

Benefits kept intact

Microsoft has moved all existing partners into the programme with immediate effect, with all designations and benefits remaining intact.

The first day of Inspire also saw the vendor announce fresh specialisations and solution partner designations, and expanded ISV Success benefits.

Being able to demonstrate the ability to build and modernise AI apps is also being added to the list of Azure specialisations. That will add to the six business application specialisations launched earlier this year, and brings it to a total of 31 technical options that the channel can line up behind.

The curtain was also lifted on a number of partner designations, including training and support services. Those that sign up will be able to use the status to stand out from the competition.

Finally, the firm improved the benefits for those ISVs that get involved with the success programme, including access to demo and sandbox environments, and technical consults to build and publish applications with Microsoft, providing sales and marketing to help accelerate deals.

“Whether you are a startup or a well-established global business, there is an opportunity for every partner to monetise your IP or your services to accelerate customer success through Microsoft AI and Microsoft Cloud,” said Dezen.

Read more on Channel Partner Programmes