Microsoft Solution Partners vs Microsoft Gold
What You Need To Know About Microsoft’s New Designation
Towards the end of 2022, Microsoft released their new Microsoft Solution Partner programme, signalling the end of their Microsoft Gold, Silver, ‘Certified Partner’ designations.
The Microsoft Solutions Partner programme has introduced several new specifications designed to help customers identify and learn more about the top Microsoft partners in their individual fields.
These new specifications are similarly beneficial for partners like ourselves, allowing us to demonstrate our expertise and commitment to Microsoft’s industry-leading software. In this way, Microsoft is helping to drive innovation and competition across the tech industry.
In this article, I’ll outline what the Microsoft Solutions Partner programme is, how it’s different from other Microsoft designations, and what it means both for partners and customers.
Suggested reading: Read our Department for Education case study to discover what Talk Think Do’s award-winning services look like in practice.
What is a Microsoft Solutions Partner?
Put simply, Microsoft Solution Partners are companies that have demonstrated expertise in delivering Microsoft technology to customers.1 Members of the programme have access to exclusive Microsoft resources including training, technical support, and product information.
To become a Microsoft Solution Partner, a company must demonstrate its technical capability, customer references, and successful project delivery, as well as meeting a host of other requirements.
Microsoft uses a holistic measurement framework known as ‘partner capability scores’ to determine whether a company meets the criteria for designation. This relies on a company gaining at least 70 points based on their performance, skilling, and customer success. In addition to this, companies must:
- Meet spend requirements: Fulfil a minimum customer spend of $1,000 per month specifically on Microsoft Azure across three customers.
- Use multiple technologies: Use at least five different Azure technologies across client deployments.
- Commit to growth: Increase Azure spending by 20% annually.
Achieving Microsoft Solution Partner status takes significant time and effort, and is both a financial and skills-driven commitment.
This new status allows cloud application development companies like ourselves to clearly demonstrate our expertise — and gives customers a way to identify companies that have a commitment to training, accreditation and have proven success.
So how is the solutions partner status different from Microsoft’s previous Gold and Silver designations?
How are Solutions Partners and Gold Partners Different?
The Microsoft Solutions Partner programme was preceded by Microsoft Gold and Silver Partner designations, where Silver was recognised as the top 5% of partners and Gold as the top 1%.2
Each of these Microsoft solution areas were further divided into individual competencies — Talk Think Do, for example, held competencies in DevOps, Cloud Computing Platforms, Application Development, and Application Integration.
To become a Silver Partner, companies were required to:
- Have a minimum of two individuals who were certified as experts in that specific field.
- Meet a minimum Azure spend across all customers.
To become a Gold Partner, companies were required to:
- Have a minimum of four individuals at the company who were certified as experts in the chosen competency.
- Partners had to complete technology assessments to prove their level of expertise.
- Partners were required to submit customer references that demonstrated successful projects
- Partners had to meet a specified performance commitment.
While the Microsoft Solutions Partner programme has, in a way, replaced these designations, it is also even more challenging to achieve. It requires highly specific spend and technological commitments, including an all-important agreement to increase Azure spend over time.
Attaining Microsoft Solutions Partner status demonstrates that a provider is an expert in their chosen field, and has the ability to deliver an excellent level of service.
What does this mean for technology partners?
One of the best things about the Microsoft Solutions Partner designation, in my opinion, is that it identifies partners with specific capabilities in high customer-demand solution areas. It’s a tangible method of demonstrating your expertise and what makes you unique.
Being part of the Microsoft Partner Network can also help technology providers to:
- Encourage business development: Supporting businesses as they expand their services and learn more complex skills — especially in the field of Microsoft cloud-native application development.
- Increase customer reach: Through the Microsoft Solutions Partner platform and online directory.3
- Expand technical skills: The partnership provides businesses with additional resources, personalised assistance and courses with which to improve and expand their skill set.
Attaining the Solutions Partner designation allows companies to unlock a host of additional Microsoft resources and tools, increasing the specialism of their offerings.
How Talk Think Do is boosting digital and app innovation
Talk Think Do has recently achieved the Solutions Partner status for Digital and App Innovation, replacing and going beyond our previous position as a Gold Partner.
Being a Microsoft Solutions Partner demonstrates our expertise in helping customers build and maintain their cloud-native applications — and further establishes our position as an industry-leading UK-based developer.
The Digital and App Innovation status specifically evidences our deep understanding of:
- AI and ML
- Low Code Application Development
- Modernisation of Web Applications
- Hybrid Operations and Management
- DevOps and GitHub
Beyond the baseline 70 points required for a Solutions Partner status, the Microsoft Cloud Partner Programme required us to achieve 90 points and meet a range of additional criteria. The entire team at Talk Think Do were committed to attaining the designation and implementing cloud innovation, and achieved the following results:
- Six team members achieved the Certified Azure Developer Certification.
- Five team members achieved the Certified DevOps Engineer Expert Certification.
- Two team members achieved the Certified Azure Solutions Architect Certification.
Becoming a Microsoft Solutions Partner is a rigorous task, so while some existing Gold Partners may strive towards it, I think the actual number of Solutions Partners will remain relatively low.
What does this mean for customers?
The new Microsoft Partner statuses have provided customers with greater freedom and choice when it comes to selecting an application development, modernisation, or management provider.
Choosing a Microsoft Solutions Partner is an effective way to ensure the developer or modernisation company you work with has an in-depth understanding of Microsoft systems and best practices. You can easily refine and search for partners who are skilled within a specific field, such as custom cloud application innovation.
Customers can also expect Solutions Partners to provide:
- High-level skills: A Solution Partner designation is very difficult to achieve, both in terms of the level of skills and certification required and in providing proof of execution. I’m anticipating that there will be a much smaller pool of Solutions Partners than there were Gold Partners, making it a more refined and specialised certification.
- Tailored services: The requirements of the new programme are much more tailored to each specialism. This means you can have confidence that the partner you pick is an expert in their specific Microsoft solution field.
- Strategic partnerships: On the whole, the Solution Partner status is easier to achieve for larger companies, who will be used to working alongside and in partnership with other service providers. This makes Microsoft Partners a good choice for businesses looking to use services from a range of companies.
Suggested reading: Read our blog, ‘10 Most Innovative Tech Partners in the UK’, to learn more about the technology companies leading the industry in 2023.
Microsoft Solutions Partners support industry-wide innovation
Microsoft introduced its new Solutions Partner programme to meet the evolving needs of customers and help its partners succeed. Application development is one of the fastest-changing fields in the technology industry, and I expect that companies with Solution Partner statuses will lead the sector going forward.
Talk Think Do has years of experience building complex business applications across multiple clouds and is proud to have technology partnerships with Microsoft 365, GitHub, and DQ Global, among others.
We are experienced at developing applications specifically in Microsoft Cloud, and have worked with a range of e-learning, transport, and government organisations to create robust and secure cloud solutions.
Book a consultation with our cloud application experts today to learn more about our skills and services.
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