Without much fanfare, Microsoft is rolling out upgrades to its cloud software marketplaces that will significantly change how channel and technology partners engage each other and sell solutions to joint customers.
Microsoft started the process Monday by introducing the capability for Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) partners to bundle, sell and invoice third-party infrastructure software directly through Azure Marketplace.
Another upgrade coming within the next couple of months will apply that approach to seat-based applications sold through Azure Marketplace and AppSource, an online store for business solutions, fostering a more direct relationship between resellers and SaaS providers.
"We're extending the concept of our partner network in the marketplace," said Toby Richards, who runs go-to-market for Microsoft's One Commercial Partner program.
"The message we've been giving traditional partners over the course of many years is this year they'll see specifics as to how to transform from pure resell to delivering managed services and solutions," Richards told CRN USA.
Within Microsoft, the initiative is called P2P, Richards said, and is seen as critical to supporting the profitability and health of cloud-focused solution providers.
"The goal is for our reseller partners to start adding more value to customer environments than just selling Office or things like that," he told CRN USA.
Playing a key role in the pilot program are ISVs popular with small businesses.
The ISVs for the first time will be able to use Microsoft's marketplaces to build their channels globally. And the partners reselling those third-party solutions along with Office 365 can take advantage of the solution bundles entirely integrated within Microsoft's provisioning and transaction system.
"It will save quite a bit of time for the partner, and everything will be then delivered to the customer in one provisioning motion," Richards told CRN USA.
"All invoicing can come together in one monthly bill to the customer. This will provide immediate value to a lot of these partners ready to make that move," he said.
Software vendors with infrastructure solutions that will become available to CSPs Monday are Barracuda, Cisco Systems, Fortinet, Citrix Systems, NetApp and Check Point Software Technologies.
The seat-based SaaS vendors that will later be added are Nimble CRM, LawToolBox, JetReports, Boomerang, Meistertask and Adobe.