Microsoft to treble reseller base as education sector fragments


Microsoft to treble reseller base as education sector fragments

Microscope contributor

Microsoft plans to almost triple the base of Authorised Education Resellers (AERs) to deal with the fragmenting market as the government hands all 30,000 schools in the UK control of their IT budgets.

As revealed by MicroScope, the software titan canned perpetual licenses under the Schools Agreement on 1 March and replaced it with the Enrolment for Education Solutions subscriptions model which moves budgets from cap-ex to op-ex.

Steve Beswick, senior director of education at Microsoft, said: "The government policy is clearly to devolve budgets down to the individual entities.

"If there are more individual schools that require expertise on Microsoft...and that means we have to increase our channel as a result, that is what we are going to do, but it is on the basis of serving customer demand," he said.

The AER accreditation process has also been dumbed down to lower the barrier to entry, with resellers only required to register as a partner and have one employee sit a twenty minute exam, Microsoft confirmed.

Previously, AERs needed to be Gold certified and push two staff through a technical course.

There are 533 AERs in the UK today but Microsoft is tasking distributors with swelling the ranks to 1,400.

Alex Tatham, sales and marketing director at Westcoast, said it was doing a gap analysis of the customer base and planned a marketing assault to encourage all Microsoft trade customers and general education resellers sign up as AERs.

"The government is pushing budgets down into the wider reseller market and this is a massive opportunity for the channel," he said.

The softening of the accreditation process and discounts of up to 90% available only from authorised distributors will provide the carrot to discourage sub-distribution, Tatham added.

Existing AERs could be forgiven for not welcoming recruitment on such a wide scale but James Napp, managing director at Bechtle Direct said he was not concerned, arguing that his business was well qualified to advise customers on licensing.

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