The Microsoft Azure Expert Managed Services Provider (MSP) Program recognizes and rewards partners who embrace and embody the concept of the next-generation MSP. Earlier this year, Microsoft released version 1.8 of the Microsoft Azure Expert MSP Audit.
CloudHealth is closely aligned in helping Microsoft foster next-generation cloud Managed Service Providers and can help partners demonstrate capabilities across several audit requirements. What does this audit entail? and how can we help? Let’s dive into the benefits, prerequisites, process, requirements, and next steps.
Key benefits of becoming an Azure Expert MSP
Being a validated Azure Expert MSP sets partners apart in an increasingly competitive market. Microsoft promotes four key benefits as part of the Azure Expert MSP Program:
- Differentiation: Partners earn an exclusive Azure Expert MSP badge, are showcased to Microsoft customers, and gain top priority in Microsoft’s referral engine.
- Customer engagement: Partners are prioritized for co-sell engagements and leads.
- Sales and business development: Partners receive support to develop new practices.
- Access, training, and support: Partners are invited to attend exclusive events and participate in monthly calls with Azure engineering.
Azure Expert MSP Program prerequisites
To become a validated Azure Expert MSP, there are several prerequisites partners have to meet:
- Partner program tier: All partners must have an active Gold Cloud Platform competency.
- Azure consumption: Partners must drive a minimum of $200,000 USD Azure consumed revenue (ACR) per month derived from customer engagements.
- Certified staff: Partners must have a minimum of 15 individuals who complete the required certifications.
- Customer references: Partners need to submit four customer references for their Azure MSP solution, including one public case study. As part of the program, partners are expected to have a minimum of 20 Azure customers.
- Support contract: Partners must have Advanced Support for Partners or Premier Support for Partners covering Azure.
- MSP offering: A partner’s MSP offering must be listed in AppSource or Azure Marketplace.
- Azure MSP offering: The Azure MSP offering must be promoted on the partner’s website.
- Cloud Solution Provider (CSP): Partners are required to have an active CSP contract in place. CSP Direct Reseller and CSP Indirect Reseller contracts are accepted, however, CSP Indirect Providers do not qualify.
Azure Expert MSP Audit process
The audit is a rigorous and resource-intensive process, involving audit scheduling, a pre-audit assessment, an onsite audit with an independent third-party, gap review depending on the scores, and an implementation phase. The price of the audit process is over $8,000 USD, with the Pre-Audit Assessment valued at $2,000 and the Onsite Audit valued at $6,000 + T&E.
Once an application is submitted and accepted, partners have a maximum of 120 days to schedule and complete their two-day onsite audit. Once a partner passes the audit, they will undergo a progress audit for their second year and a full audit for the third year to maintain their validation.
Without diving too deep into scoring, the checklist is broken down into eight sections and four categories. Scores are based on the total number of category requirements verified.
The eight requirement sections:
1.0 Business Health and Managed Service Focus
2.0 Microsoft Services
3.0 Assessment and Design
4.0 Build and Migration
5.0 Cloud Operations and Service Management
6.0 Security and Governance
7.0 Cloud SLAs, Customer Satisfaction, and Cost Optimization
8.0 Continual Improvement and Process Optimization
And within those sections, the checklist items are denoted with one of four categories:
Category 0 Must meet 11/11 requirements – during onsite audit
Category 1 Must meet 40/40 requirements
Category 2 Must meet 9/12 requirements
Category 3 Must meet 2/5 requirements
The CloudHealth Platform can help partners demonstrate capabilities for the following requirements:
3.2 Security Assessment (Category 1)
3.5 Assessment and Design Tools (Category 1)
4.9 Migration Tools (Category 1)
5.9 Non-Microsoft Tools for Workloads Support (Category 2)
5.13 Asset Management (Category 2)
5.16 Integrated Monitoring Tools (Category 1)
5.17 Security Management Tools (Category 1)
5.20 Automated Cloud Management Platform (Category 0)
5.21 Monitoring and Governance at Scale (Category 1)
6.8 Governance and Policy Tooling (Category 2)
7.5 Cost Optimization (Category 1)
7.6 Workload Optimization Tools (Category 1)
Passing the Azure Expert MSP Audit is quite an accomplishment, so once you've passed, be sure to promote your success!
If you want the benefits of being a validated Azure Expert MSP, download our Azure Expert MSP Solution Brief, detailing how you can leverage CloudHealth to meet several checklist requirements.
And register for free to our first-ever global cloud management partner summit and bookmark the Azure Expert MSP session.