A recently released Partner Network Disclosure showcases some changes coming to the Partner program for 2014 and helps define the messaging Microsoft put forth during the Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in July 2013.

Citing customer demand for cloud services, the October 2013 Disclosure Guide outlines merging of programs, new tracks, updated Partner requirements, and a few program retirements. Microsoft states that the coming changes are being made to allow the Partner Network to adapt to meet marketplace needs through new compliance requirements and membership optimization.

Here's some quick highlights of what's happening:

  • Cloud program benefits and the Microsoft Action Pack will be fully integrated into the Microsoft Partner Network competencies in January 2014.
  • A new version of the Microsoft Action Pack will launch in January 2014 which includes new Cloud Services components Office 365 (5 seats), Dynamics CRM Online (5 seats), Windows Intune (5 seats), and Windows Azure ($100 monthly credit). The new Microsoft Action Pack also seeks to end physical media distribution, aligning with Microsoft's new digital adoption initiative. The Microsoft Action Pack will also see additional changes over the next year, including pricing and rate changes.
  • New Cloud tracks will be added to Partner qualifications including integration, hosting, and ISV scenarios. These will also launch in January 2014.
  • Retirements: Small Business Specialist Community program, Mobile competency.
  • June 30, 2014 marks the end of the Cloud programs: Cloud Essentials, Cloud Accelerate, Cloud Deployment, and Windows Azure Circle. Partners in these programs who want to retain cloud-related benefits will need to seek out a Microsoft Action Pack subscription or relevant Microsoft competency.
  • As of November 2013 business-critical phone incident limits for Gold and Silver partners have changed. Gold is now at 15 incidents, and Silver at 10.

The full doc is HERE and includes over 30 pages with matrices about the varying tracks and the requirement changes for competency.

I'm still sifting through the changes, trying to get a better understanding of the Microsoft-speak, so I'll probably make some additional comments later on. One of the more notable pieces I'm attempting to get clarification on are the changes in the Microsoft Action Pack and the true meaning behind 'digital delivery.' Could this be a decent alternative for the, now defunct, TechNet Subscription? Or, could the future of the Microsoft Action Pack be that Microsoft is eliminating on-premise software altogether and replacing it with only Cloud-served applications?