How Partners Sell Microsoft’s Cloud Services

How Partners Sell Microsoft’s Cloud Services

My company – Fresh Mango Technologies – has been a Microsoft Partner for many years now, I’ve always known that their on-line infrastructure for partners was a mess but I didn’t realise just how badly until recently – to be fair, Google’s isn’t much better.

As the functionality and pricing of Cloud-based services improves, so to does the inexorable migration of our customers from local based Exchange server to Office 365 and Hosted Exchange.  As a Microsoft Partner we were keen to do two things:

  1. Gain management oversight of all of our customers on the Office 365 platform
  2. If possible, get some sort of referral for moving customers there

Simple right?  Microsoft already have a scheme in place to do just that.

Unfortunately, while the hoops you have to jump through are few and simple, Microsoft has set them on fire and makes you jump through them backwards, in the dark and with your feet tied together while wearing clown shoes.  As with any corporate behemoth, all attempts at gaining support are tantamount to standing at the foot of a mountain and shouting at it.

As my company is not based in the USA, Microsoft seem incapable of comprehending it – support is hard to come by as U.S. support teams refuse to deal with you.  This fact, combined with an appallingly documented process means trying to sell Microsoft’s Cloud services becomes somewhat of a dark art.

In the end, I got most of my answers from a PowerPoint presentation another lost soul found online and posted a link to in response to a question I posted (he was having the same trouble as me: finding any information on the steps required).

Download the ‘Office 365 Partner Admin Center Overview.pptx’ PowerPoint Presentation

How Partners Sign Up to Resell Microsoft Cloud Services

I believe I have finally cracked the issue and wanted to explain the setup for those brave souls trying to do this, so a few facts and things to look out for below.

Process defined by PowerPoint Presentation  for partners to resell/manage Cloud Services

  • Have an Office 365 tenant*
  • Be a Microsoft Cloud Partner, including one of:
    • Microsoft Action Pack Subscription
    • Silver or Gold competency
    • Cloud Accelerate Partner
  • Obtain your Office 365 IUR (internal use rights) licenses
  • Login to your Office 365 as admin

*As detailed below, a serious mistake we made was misinterpreting this requirement.  When they say you need an Office 365 Tenant, they do not mean a customer (despite customers being referred to as tenants everywhere else), they mean you must have an Office 365 account for your company (or you must create one as part of the process).  I feel they could have defined this better, perhaps ‘tenantship’ gives a better indication.

Cloud Services account and management features are not a feature of the MPN portal (Microsoft Partner Network), they are handled via the Office 365 website.

Yep, something that I wasn’t expecting – I had assumed that I would login to the MPN portal and manage customers we’d signed up to Office 365 there, on-board new customers, etc.

You MUST Claim your Internal Use Office 365 Licenses to sell Office 365

This was something that tripped us up for a while.  We weren’t ready to move ourselves to Office 365 due to time constraints so I ignored the ‘Obtain you Office 365 IUR (Internal use rights) licenses step.

Getting Paid by Microsoft

So, you’ve finally run the gauntlet and are successfully able to sell Microsoft’s Cloud Services and are feeling pretty pleased with yourself.  Now prepare for the sequel: Microsoft Cloud Services Hell 2: Payback.  Unfortunately getting paid can be even harder – presumably because its not in Microsoft’s interested to make this easy.  We signed our first cloud customer up to Office 365 in 2011, it’s now the end of 2014: we still haven’t received a penny of commission.

After a long winded call to the Microsoft Partner Cloud Services team, I was told that I should contact the “Online Channel Incentives” team and was given the email address ociemea @


Bob McKay

About Bob McKay

Bob is a Founder of Seguro Ltd, a full time father and husband, part-time tinkerer-with-wires, coder, Muay Thai practitioner, builder and cook. Big fan of equality, tolerance and co-existence.

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2 comments on «How Partners Sell Microsoft’s Cloud Services»

  1. Anthony says:

    Hi Bob

    Thanks for the guide i am also struggling with reselling the office365 packages and understanding how it all works.
    Do you know if there are any restrictions on the incentives?
    possibly a minimum amount of sales?

    We have moved one of our smaller clients over with 8 licenses but haven’t seen the the incentive paid out
    Looking around i cannot get a straight answer i can see some people referring to a minimum sale of $200 and others $100 but nothing from a Microsoft page detailing any minimum amount.


    1. Bob McKay says:

      Hi Anthony,

      I feel your pain I really do – we’ve never received any sort of commission despite having signed some customers up a couple of years ago when Microsoft first started offering Hosted Exchange. Microsoft kept sending us documents to complete written in Spanish, we kept replying asking for an English version or some help and it all got stuck there. We didn’t follow up as we stopped signing customers up because the platform was so bad at the time.

      The whole Microsoft Cloud / Partner integration is a farce is my opinion and I suspect its costing Microsoft millions in lost revenue because so many people I have spoken to simply gave up in the end and signed up to be resellers for Google Apps for Business instead.

      Good luck with your search and if you do find some hard answers, would you mind posting them here to help keep people informed!? Thanks!

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