New Microsoft AI Cloud Partner Program entwines AI with the cloud

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Microsoft has announced the launch of the new Microsoft AI Cloud Partner Program, which infuses AI technology into its existing cloud partner ecosystem.

Unveiled this week at its Inspire 2023 conference by CEO Satya Nadella, the Redmond giant said it added AI-specific capabilities to the program to provide a portfolio that utilizes the entire partner lifecycle – including onboarding, skilling, go-to-market, incentives, and co-selling. 

The new initiative replaces the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program, which launched back in October last year, with existing members being automatically moved to the new setup. 

Partners’ existing benefits and designations will also move across with them, Microsoft said.

In a blog post, Microsoft’s partner chief Nicole Dezen said businesses are already realizing the benefits of integrating AI capabilities through every level of their organizations.

“Through the Microsoft AI Cloud Partner Program, 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, services to device partners,” she said.

As part of this AI reshuffle, Microsoft revealed it is investing $100 million in Azure Innovate, a program that aims to help partners build AI solutions that leverage analytics and AI functionality. 


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The firm said the investment is a direct response to increased demand for analytics and AI, specifically its Microsoft Fabric and Azure OpenAI Service offerings.

Among the Microsoft AI Cloud Partner Program’s new AI-focused features is a new AI Transformation Playbook which serves up AI practice guidance and covers elements from skilling and innovating, to marketing, and selling.

A new Microsoft Azure specialization also aims to help partners demonstrate technical expertise and success in building intelligent apps across AKS, Cosmos DB, and AI, complete with unlockable co-sell benefits.

Additionally, Microsoft said partners will soon have access to a forthcoming ‘industrial metaverse’ which the company says will enter public preview in early 2024.

Elsewhere, other notable additions include a new ‘Era of AI’ suite of ready-to-go marketing assets, an opportunity to participate in Microsoft’s Security Copilot design advisory council, as well as access to the new AIM program, which provides resources for those helping customers migrate to the cloud.

“Moving forward, the capabilities of AI and the Cloud will be integrated and inseparable,” Dezen said. “Our enriched AI services portfolio empowers partners and customers to innovate on the most interconnected technology ecosystem.” 

Daniel Todd

Dan is a freelance writer and regular contributor to ChannelPro, covering the latest news stories across the IT, technology, and channel landscapes. Topics regularly cover cloud technologies, cyber security, software and operating system guides, and the latest mergers and acquisitions.

A journalism graduate from Leeds Beckett University, he combines a passion for the written word with a keen interest in the latest technology and its influence in an increasingly connected world.

He started writing for ChannelPro back in 2016, focusing on a mixture of news and technology guides, before becoming a regular contributor to ITPro. Elsewhere, he has previously written news and features across a range of other topics, including sport, music, and general news.