One of the great things about being a Microsoft Partner is that you can get access to NFR (Not For Resale) software. This is great for testing and evaluation. Typically with the Microsoft Cloud services, partners get access to Office 365 E3 and around $100 of Azure credits each month.
These benefits have been in place for a long time and I would like to suggest some consideration for change. Why? Well, many partners are now selling a variety of different licenses, including Microsoft 365 which contains a variety of different service offerings. Many of these are now very different from the standard Office 365 that partners currently receive as NFR.
Just having access to a ‘generic’ Office 365 E3 can make it challenging when it comes to fully understanding what functionality different licenses may or may not contain. For example, to really evaluate what an F (Firstline) license does you really need to play with it and see it in action, especially if you are potentially recommending these to customers.
With so many different licenses now available it is not possible to give one of each to partners. However, I suggest that a workable solution maybe to provided partners with an amount of licensing ‘credits’ that they can use to provision what they. For example, maybe an Office 365 E5 license is 75 points and a Microsoft 365 Business is 25 points. Those two combined then up to the allocated 100 points. Or perhaps 2 x Microsoft 365 Business Licenses (50 points in total) + 2 x Microsoft 365 Firstline licenses (say 30 points in total) and then 1 x Azure AD Premium P1 at 20 points. Again, all of these add up to the requisite 100 points of an allocation.
Adopting this method would also allow partners to mix and match as required. Thus, if they already had 100 points of licenses allocated, they would need to drop one so they could test something like the Firstline SKUs. Then when they are finished they could cancel those Firstline SKUs and go back to what they had originally.
Thus, as long as the allocated license ‘value’ does not exceed 100 ,partners are free to pick and choose whatever they wish within those limitations. For partners who have higher competency levels, then that base 100 point level could be raised.
Focusing on Azure credits now, I don’t believe the current $100 is enough given things like Azure AD Domain services alone for a month exceed this value. If you are looking to build and evaluate something like the new Windows Virtual Desktop Services in Azure, $100 simply isn’t going to allow you to really do that all. I would suggest that a more suitable figure these days would be around the $300 – $500 mark. I’m also sure that perhaps if partners were to become certified in Azure then they could be recognized with additional credits?
Hopefully, this request reaches the ears of someone at Microsoft in the Partner ecosystem as I think that it has been quite a while since partner benefits have been examined. I would like to think Microsoft is looking at better ways to enable their partners to sell a greater variety of the software that is now available. If you are a Microsoft Partner and you like my suggestion, please share it and let others know that we want to sell more Microsoft solution but we new approach to the benefits we are entitled too I believe.