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Microsoft Cloud Partner Programs: What ISVs Need to Know

If you’re an ISV looking to list, sell, and become transactable on the Azure marketplace, you’ve probably considered participating in one of the Microsoft Cloud Partner Programs. While joining a partner program can offer serious benefits, including opportunities for co-sell, unlock incentives and GTM resources, finding the right program and getting accepted is no easy feat. 

Not sure where to get started? Learn more about the various Microsoft Cloud Partner Programs, so you can decide which one is right for you.

 

 

Popular Microsoft Cloud Partner Programs

 

 

  • Microsoft Commercial Marketplace (Program)
  • Azure for Independent Software Vendors
  • ISV Success Program 
  • Microsoft AI Cloud Partner Program
  • Solutions Partner Program
  • FY24 Incentives for ISVs
  • Secondary Azure programs, including, Azure Partner Builder’s Program (APBP), Azure Innovate, Azure Migrate and Modernize 
 

Microsoft Commercial Marketplace (Program)

 

 

The Microsoft Commercial Marketplace (Program) is a platform where independent software vendors (ISVs) list, manage, and sell their solutions on the cloud. ISVs can sell across two online stores: Microsoft AppSource for business solutions and Azure Marketplace for IT solutions.

The Microsoft Commercial Marketplace offers resources to enable partners, including training sources, technical support, and co-selling opportunities with Microsoft, as well as tools to help ISVs build, sell, and go-to-market.

Who is the Microsoft Commercial Marketplace for?

The Microsoft Commercial Marketplace is aimed at ISVs looking to:

  • Build their solution and scale growth
  • Sell worldwide without thinking about international taxes and fees
  • Launch cutting-edge apps
  • Empower a wide range of customers with new commercial and technical solutions. 
 

Microsoft AI Cloud Partner Program vs. Azure for Independent Software Vendors (ISVs)

 

 

The two main Microsoft cloud programs for ISVs are the Microsoft AI Cloud Partner Program and Azure for Independent Software Vendors (ISV). Both programs equip ISVs with resources and benefits. The Microsoft AI Cloud Partner Program focuses on ISVs leveraging AI to drive business and technological innovation, while Azure for ISVs offers a cloud platform for independent software vendors of all kinds looking to test, build, scale, and innovate their solutions. 

 

Microsoft AI Cloud Partner Program

The Microsoft AI Cloud Partner Program empowers partners to innovate and drive business transformation with Microsoft AI technology. The AI program offers a comprehensive portfolio of investments for all partner business models at every stage of maturity, from startups and ISVs, to services and device partners.

Benefits of the Microsoft AI Cloud Partner Program include technical support, training courses, GTM support, and co-selling opportunities with Microsoft. 

Microsoft AI Cloud Partner Program at a glance:

  • Helps ISVs working in artificial intelligence to unlock innovation, grow their business, and drive digital transformation across industries 
  • Enables partners to reach global scale quickly
  • Focus on helping ISVs modernize and create cutting-edge apps that offer a fresh user experience
  • Offers go-to-market resources to help partners market their solutions and sell faster
  • Provides ISV partners the necessary tools to seize the full 

Who is the Microsoft AI Cloud Partner Program for?

The Microsoft AI Cloud Partner Program is designed for AI-focused ISVs looking to build quickly, sell globally, develop modern apps, and launch new experiences for customers around the world. 

 

Azure for Independent Software Vendors 

Azure for Independent Software Vendors (ISV) is designed to support ISVs at various stages of their development and growth. This Azure program offers a number of resources to help ISVs develop innovative solutions at scale, especially in areas such as AI, analytics, and data. ISVs can connect with Microsoft’s 90,000+ global partners to expand their customer cases.

ISVs can also join Microsoft’s ISV Success Program (more below) and access $125,000 in benefits, like Azure credits and go-to-market resources. If you participate in this program, you can also access Microsoft’s security and compliance tools to protect data, apps, and infrastructure.

Azure for Independent Software Vendors at a glance

  • Empowers ISVs to build, innovate, and grow their business on a trusted cloud provider, including resources for publishing and selling apps 
  • Resources to migrate an existing app to the cloud, build a new SaaS offering, or expand their solution portfolio with Azure.
  • Access to Microsoft’s AI, analytics, and data tools and services 
  • Flexibility and scalability that allows ISVs to reach global markets
  • Access to industry-leading security features
  • ISVs can connect with Microsoft’s 90,000+ global partners to expand their customer cases.
  • Rewards through the ISV success program. 

Who is Azure or ISVS for?

Azure for Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) benefits a wide range of ISVs:

  • Early stage ISVs looking to innovate rapidly and build well-architected applications
  • Established ISVs looking to migrate current solutions to the cloud, improve user experience, and leverage Azure’s global reach to scale
  • ISVs looking to transition to a SaaS model, speed up sales cycles, and drive more leads by publishing in the Microsoft commercial marketplace
  • ISVs building flexible apps with cloud-native and microservice architectures that perform at scale with fully managed databases
 

ISV Success Program

 

Microsoft’s ISV Success Program is designed to assist early-stage Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) that are developing B2B applications on the Microsoft Cloud. In essence, it’s an incubator program that is more independent than the AI Cloud Partner Program or Azure for ISVs.

The 12-month, structured journey helps ISVs build and publish their applications. Benefits include Azure credits, cloud benefits, technical consultation, and marketing assistance to support ISVs throughout the development and go-to-market phases

Who is the Microsoft ISV Success program for?

The ISV Success Program is a great fit for early-stage ISVs developing B2B applications, up-and-coming ISVs who are struggling to cement their presence on the marketplace, as well as ISVs looking to grow, scale, and expand their reach within the Microsoft ecosystem.

 

Solution Partner Program

 

Despite its name, Microsoft Cloud’s Solution Partner Program is not a program in the traditional sense. It’s actually a designation. The program offers designations showcasing an organization’s proven capabilities, as well as incremental benefits. Designees must be aligned to Microsoft Solution areas, such as data & AI, digital & app innovation, infrastructure, business applications, modern work, and security.

How Invisory helps ISVs reach cloud marketplace success

 

The Invisory GTM cloud solution helps ISVs unlock their cloud marketplace potential across platforms like Salesforce, Azure, and AWS. Invisory’s one of a kind platform delivers actionable insights and key go-to-market deliverables to SaaS companies looking to stand out and maximize revenue in crowded marketplaces while reducing risk and accelerating results. For more information contact info@invisory.co.

FAQ

  • Can you tell me about other Azure programs, including APBP, Azure Innovate, and Azure Migrate and Modernize?

    Azure Partner Builder’s Program (APBP)

    Azure Partner Builder’s Program, or APBP, is designed to help ISVs in overcoming challenges associated with building, migrating, or modernizing non-cloud native applications. The program offers a structured path for innovating on Azure, resources for helping app development and modernization, and exclusive access to Azure technical events, including monthly technical and marketing office hours with Azure specialists.

    Azure Innovate

    Azure Innovate helps system integrators (SIs) and independent software vendors (ISVs) who want to enable their customers to innovate with Azure. By participating in Azure Innovate, ISVs build new solutions, modernize existing apps, power business decisions with analytics, and ultimately accelerate productivity. 

     

    Microsoft Partners provides resources to boost an ISV’s co-selling strategy. They can also nominate customers for partner-led migration, modernization, and innovation projects.

    Azure Migrate and Modernize 

    Azure Migrate and Modernize empowers SIs and ISVs to help customers accelerate their cloud journey. Benefits include assessments, partner incentives, and support for additional workload, including high-performance computing (HPC), Oracle, Linux, SAP, and mainframe migrations.

     

    The Azure Migrate and Modernize program is a good option for ISVs looking to:

    • Migrate apps, data, and infrastructure to the Azure cloud
    • Modernize legacy applications using cloud-native tools and architectures
    • Leverage AI to create cutting-edge products and services
    • Enhance customer and user experience with predictive and advanced data analytics

    What are Microsoft Azure Incentives for ISVs?

    Microsoft’s FY24 Incentives for ISVs program provides opportunities for driving 1) billed sales of transactable offers on Marketplace and 2) Azure consumption growth. 

     

    To participate, ISVs must meet the following criteria: 

    • Transactable offers on marketplace
    • Achievement of billed sales milestones and Azure IP Co-sell eligible status
    • Aiming to grow their billed sales and Azure consumption quarter-over-quarter

    Marketplace Transact and Grow Incentive Campaign

    The Marketplace Transact and Grow Incentive Campaign provides the following benefits:

    • Earn up to $200k USD for meeting billed sales milestones 
    • Benefit from four levers in this campaign, each of which offers different opportunities based on the sales of achievements of transactable offers

    ISV ACR Growth Incentive Campaign 

    The ISV ACR Growth Incentive Campaign allows ISVs to earn up to $350k USD by driving quarter-over-quarter growth in eligible account, compliance, and reporting.

  • Benefits of the Microsoft Cloud Partner Programs
    • Access to new resources
    • Market reach and new customers
    • Innovation and growth 
    • Sales acceleration 
    • Flexibility and scale
    • Security and compliance
    • Financial incentives
    • Strategic partnerships
  • Microsoft Cloud Partner roles cheat sheet

    Navigating the Azure ecosystem can feel a bit like alphabet soup. To help you get started, here’s a quick rundown of the four main Microsoft Partner roles ISVs encounter when listing, co-selling, becoming, transactable, and participating in eligible Microsoft Partner programs. 

    • CSM
    • PDM-R
    • IDPM 
    • PDM

    CSM

    CSMs, or customer support managers, own the customer relationship, providing strategic and technical advice along the way. 

    PDM-R

    A PDM-R, short for Partner Development Manager-Recruit, recruits new ISVs to the Microsoft marketplace, often before they list their apps. They have fluid portfolios, covering as many as 150 accounts at a time.

    IPDM

    Microsoft's Inside Partner Development Managers (IPDM) work with ISVs that are co-sell ready. IPDMs cover up to 65 accounts at time. To get an IPDM, ISVs must work with a qualifying Microsoft Assisted Growth program.

    PDM

    Microsoft's PDMs, or Partner Development Managers, work with top revenue performing ISVs in strategic industries and solution areas. To access a PDM, ISVs must meet certain thresholds. PDMs work with fewer ISVs, meaning that you will receive more hands-on attention. 

    PDMs generally live in very narrow lanes, usually focusing on one specific vertical and a company’s size range (e.g., a gaming company with 250-500 employees). If an ISV has 2 potential customers in different verticals, then it is likely they will not have the same PDM. It is generally unlikely to deal with the same PDM on multiple co-sell opportunities. 

    Learn more about Azure acronyms on our blog.

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