As your value-added distributor, we would like to thank you for your ongoing partnership and Microsoft business. The Microsoft CSP world is ever changing, and we would like to inform you of the most recent updates and announcements in this March addition of our newsletter:

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Two new awards were added this year:

  • The Operational Excellence Award for partners who are committed to and recognize the importance of operational excellence to drive partner profitability, digital transformation, consumption, and customer loyalty.
  • The Compliance Award for partners enabling customer success by delivering expertise through the technologies within the Microsoft Compliance product portfolio and advising customers as they navigate today’s compliance challenges.

Read more about these two awards and download the official guidelines here:

You can see the full list of awards on the Microsoft Partner of the Year Awards page and submit your nomination in advance of the deadline of 6:00 p.m. Pacific Time (PT), on March 31, 2022.

In August 2021, Microsoft announced an update to its commercial pricing for Microsoft 365, the first substantive update since Office 365 was released in June 2011. This change will go into effect on March 1, 2022:


  • Microsoft 365 E3 – US$36 (from US$32)
  • Office 365 E5 – US$38 (from US$35)
  • Office365 E3 – US$23 (from US$20)
  • Office 365 E1 – US$10 (from US$8)


  • Microsoft 365 Business Basic – US$6 (from US$5)
  • Microsoft 365 Business Premium – US$22 (from US$20)

Changes to pricing for US government cloud customers will be phased in over several years in line with existing requirements. There is no price change at this time for education or consumer products.

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Microsoft has released a technical preview for GDAP, which lets partners use granular and time-bound access to their customers’ workloads in production and sandbox environments.

Prepare for the GDAP technical release by familiarizing yourself with the resources available in the Operations Readiness gallery. You can also find more information found in the technical documentation.

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The auto-renew default for software subscriptions purchased in CSP new commerce is now set to “ON.”  This capability’s intent is to simplify the renewal process for partners and their customers, allowing for software subscriptions to auto-renew at their designated renewal date by default.

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Azure is more than 10 years old. As we drive innovation, we have to retire older and outdated services and update them with new offerings to help customers improve their business operations.

To learn about Azure retirements in 2022:

  1. Go to Azure updates.
  1. In Update type, select Retirements.
  2. In Retirement year, select a year.
  3. Select Filter Results.


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We’ve enhanced Partner Center with automation and new features to improve the IP co-sell deal registration process. These updates will move IP Co-sell deal registration submissions through the system faster and provide immediate insights into the eligibility status of each deal for registration. This new process will result in an easier, simplified experience for partners working with Microsoft. Partners can reference an overview of the improvements here, and find more information on co-sell deals registration validation here.


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We are offering service providers a free two year subscription of Azure Active Directory Premium Plan 2 to help them manage and get reports on access privileges. Registered partners can log onto Partner Center to take advantage of this offer. Azure AD Premium Plan 2 provides extended access to sign-in logs and premium features such as Azure AD Privileged Identity Management (PIM) and risk-based Conditional Access capabilities to strengthen security controls.


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The Nonprofit product accelerator, offered through the CSP incentive program, rewards partners for sales to qualified nonprofit entities. This accelerator will be adjusted starting March 1, 2022, to remove Microsoft 365 E3 (SKU AAA-99949) and ensure that we focus our incentives on our hero SKU for small nonprofits, Microsoft Business Premium. Changes will be reflected in the March 2022 incentive earnings statements.

Learn how to engage and use the accelerator by joining the Partners for Social Impact community. You can keep up with the news through our community update videos.

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Azure ultra disks are the highest-performing storage option for Azure virtual machines (VMs), suited for data-intensive workloads such as SAP HANA, top-tier databases, and transaction-heavy workloads.

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Over the last year, Azure Backup has released multiple enhancements to its programmatic interfaces which enables you to achieve efficiencies at scale and reduce human error.  Recent updates include: General Availability of Recovery Services CLI, PowerShell & CLI support for Backup vaults, Terraform modules for PostgreSQL DB backup, Blob backup and Disk backup, Bicep templates for Azure Backup and PowerShell & CLI support for Archive storage, User-assigned identity for CMK and MSI authentication for managed disk restore.

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Today, we are announcing the preview of the Azure Static Web Apps enterprise-grade edge powered by Azure Front Door which enables faster page loads, enhanced security, and increased reliability for your global apps with no configuration or additional code required.

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Microsoft Defender for Containers plan and new alerts for Microsoft Defender for Storage have been released for general availability along with improvements to alerts. 

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Traffic Manager uses a probing mechanism to evaluate your application endpoints. To enhance the capacity of our probing plane, we will be increasing the number of probes deployed within Traffic Manager’s endpoint monitoring service over the next few years to continue to mitigate the large amount of growth we are experiencing. Your applications will see an increase in number of health probes and some of these probes may originate from new IP addresses.

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You can now use Azure Policy to enable Azure Site Recovery for your virtual machines (VMs) at scale and ensure organizational standards. Once you have a Disaster Recovery policy created for a given subscription or resource group(s), all new VMs that are added to that subscription or resource group(s) will have Azure Site Recovery enabled automatically. You can do the same for existing VMs in your resource group(s) through Policy Remediation.

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In June 2021, Microsoft and AT&T reached a major milestone when we announced an industry-first collaboration to evolve Microsoft’s hybrid cloud technology to support AT&T’s 5G core network workloads. Microsoft aims to harness trends toward Software Defined Networking (SDN), Cloud-Native Network Functions (CNFs), and Virtualized Network Functions (VNFs) coupled with the service-based architecture of 5G, to begin digitally transforming the network. These capabilities will be combined with Microsoft’s edge platform, our hybrid management platform, Azure Arc, and our ecosystem of partners including equipment providers, hardware vendors, and software vendors. By joining the Network Cloud with our platform and growing ecosystem, we have achieved a carrier-grade hybrid cloud solution that will be delivered as the Azure for Operators platform.

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You can now send device telemetry in different shapes and transform the telemetry into structured data at Azure IoT Central ingress. Data mapping in Azure IoT Central enables you to map a JSON path in device message to a friendly name (alias) at a device level.

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This solution provides the foundation for building a Security Operations Center (SOC) for monitoring IoT/OT and includes: one workbook for visibility/reporting, 14 analytics rules for monitoring, and four playbooks for response. The workbook leverages Microsoft Sentinel telemetry to create visualization to understand, analyze, and respond to IoT/OT threats. Understanding alerts over time provides unprecedented insights into security posture and where teams need to focus to harden against threats. Deep links directly to Microsoft Defender for IoT alerts empower analysts to focus on remediating threats rather than pivoting between tools. 

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You can now code, build, deploy, simulate and debug your IoT Edge solutions in Visual Studio 2022.

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On January 12, we disclosed our plans to launch Microsoft Cloud for Retail, and now we are excited to announce the general availability of Microsoft Cloud for Retail.

The following Business Applications components are used by Microsoft Cloud for Retail:

  • Dynamics 365 Customer Insights
  • Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection
  • Dynamics 365 Customer Service & Omnichannel 
  • Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Insights
  • Dynamics 365 Intelligent Order Management
  • Microsoft Power Platform

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Mid-July was published the 2021 release wave 2 plans for Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Power Platform, a compilation of new capabilities that are planned to be released between October 2021 and March 2022. This second release wave of the year offers hundreds of new features and enhancements, demonstrating our continued investment to power digital transformation for our customers and partners.

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Organizations across industries and around the world are seeking new ways to unlock their customer data to provide high-quality, connected customer experiences. Microsoft’s work to help enterprises, especially those in the retail, consumer brands, healthcare, manufacturing, and media and advertising industries to meet their customers’ expectations by delivering privacy-aware, consent enabled personalization has gained some recognition.

For the eleventh consecutive year, Gartner has named Microsoft a Leader in Sales Force Automation.

Compare the Microsoft cloud platform to competitors’ and read about the market drivers upon which the SFA solutions were reviewed including, according to Gartner:

  • The top market trend is the expansion of AI and virtual selling capabilities in SFA, whereby remote selling using collaboration tools and unified communications is becoming an essential part of the sales technology stack.
  • Sales organizations are increasingly trying to understand customer journeys and require the need for SFA systems to interact with a variety of channels to glean insights and personalize communications.
  • Sales leaders, amid a pandemic, are reevaluating their sales technology stack investments to encompass more virtual selling or remote selling capabilities and self-service digital commerce.

Microsoft named as a worldwide Leader in IDC MarketScape for Customer Data Platforms

2021 Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for Sales Force Automation

Sales plays are built on the core framework used by Microsoft sellers. They’ll help you align co-selling efforts around the top customer opportunities. Go-to-market sales plays group Microsoft technologies into customer-centric solutions to help focus your sales efforts on key personas and business outcomes. We have the first two sales plays for Business Applications: Highlight digital selling with Dynamics 365 Sales and Help customer optimize with Dynamics 365.

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During Cloud Week, participants will:

  • Understand the business value of Business Applications and discover how to differentiate your sales approach and secure a win with enterprise customers
  • Learn the capabilities ofDynamics 365 and Power Platform
  • Get certification ready with instructor-led exam preparation courses designed to help you attain role-based
  • Skill up on your own time through a choice of on-demand and live training, offered at multiple times
  • Ask questions anytime, and certified trainers will answer
  • Monday-Thursday: Theory/Lab/Live Q&As
  • Friday: Exam Prep

Who should attend?

  • Those new to Dynamics 365 and Power Platform and seeking fundamentals training

Register now

Data is everywhere chief financial officers (CFOs) look these days. Senior finance leaders have more data in front of them than ever before—with insights to drive financial growth, disrupt sales, and transform customer experiences often hiding in plain sight. All the while, the roles of finance leaders are evolving. Once economic guardians, they’re now being called on to take their data and drive digital transformation across business models—financial, operational, and organizational.

To maximize their data’s value and thrive in the face of change, finance teams need to bring the future into focus. That’s why we’re excited to invite you to Finance Reimagined, a digital event on February 23 for forward-thinking CFOs and senior finance leaders. Register now for the Finance Reimagined event for an inside look at the latest CFO trends transforming finance, with strategic guidance for senior leaders who want to understand the forces shaping their future. 

Join us for an inside look at the future of finance.

You’ll hear from renowned futurist Amy Webb about developing a culture that embraces disruption, and learn key best practices from forward-thinking leaders that will help you:

  • Adapt quickly and build agility into your company’s DNA.
  • Align processes and people to automate time-intensive tasks and embrace new business models.
  • Accelerate growth with insights and AI that continuously help improve financial performance.

Read more

Effective February 2022, support for Microsoft 365 Groups (previously known as Office Groups) and Yammer in Dynamics 365 will be deprecated. This will impact customers who use Microsoft 365 Groups and/or Yammer for collaboration in Dynamics 365. We recommend that customers transition to Microsoft Teams for more advanced collaboration functionalities.

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Starting January 14, Microsoft Defender for Endpoint Plan 1 (P1) will be automatically included in Microsoft 365 E3/A3 licenses.

As security strategies evolve, endpoint security has never been more important. Today’s organizations need a new security model that more effectively adapts to the complexity of the modern environment, embraces the hybrid workplace, and protects people, devices, apps, and data wherever they’re located. A strong EPP foundation, as offered by Defender for Endpoint P1, is an essential component of both XDR and a Zero Trust strategy.

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Today, we are excited to announce the general availability of threat and vulnerability management support for Android and iOS in Microsoft Defender for Endpoint Plan 2. With this new cross-platform coverage, threat and vulnerability management capabilities now support all major device platforms across the organization – spanning workstations, servers, and mobile devices.

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In Exchange Online, the set of tasks that an administrator can perform depends on the permissions that are granted to an administrator using Role Based Access Control (RBAC). For example, a management role called Mail Recipients defines the tasks that someone can perform on a set of user mailboxes, mail users, contacts, and distribution groups. When a management role is assigned to an administrator or user, that person is granted permissions provided by the management role.

Sometimes you might encounter issues where an administrator is not able to perform some tasks even though it seems the required roles are assigned. That, however, might not be the case and misconfigured/custom RBAC might be the culprit. This blog post is here to help you troubleshoot such problems by sharing common RBAC misconfiguration issues.

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Historically, Exchange has used a user’s primary SMTP address as the From address when sending messages. Other SMTP addresses assigned to a user (e.g., proxy addresses, also known as aliases) were mainly intended for receiving messages. Even when an email client tries to use an alias for the From address, that value is overwritten with the user’s primary SMTP address when the message is sent.

Today, business operations are much more challenging and complex, and activities such as mergers and acquisitions, rebranding, and other such changes have created the need for multiple identities and SMTP domains to be managed by an organization. To address these challenges, we started a journey toward making aliases first-class addresses in Exchange Online. We are excited to announce that we’ve reached the first milestone of this journey.

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It takes a lot of communication to make your business run—collaboration with coworkers, sharing with partners, follow ups with vendors, and outreach to customers. Microsoft Teams offers secure solutions to collaborate with external parties, and with Microsoft Teams Connect we are making it even easier to work with anyone outside your organization. Teams empowers commercial users to chat with commercial users in other organizations. Building on this, we are enabling you to chat with team members outside your organization, even if they are using a Teams personal account. These accounts are frequently used by SMB and therefore this new capability helps you strengthen the relationship with external partners.

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Welcome to the January “What’s New in Teams” blog. This month we are sharing a wealth of announcements that will provide capabilities for speakers and attendees to be more engaged with our audiences, allow for less distractions and more inclusive behaviors. To ensure all Microsoft Teams users have a first-class experience, in this blog we share a number of updates for our end users! And make sure to scroll to the end and learn about the new Teams approved devices! Let’s find out, What’s New!

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IN PREVIEW: You no longer need to specify the exact Kubernetes patch version number in your setup.

Learn more:

NOW AVAILABLE: With 1-minute frequency log alerts, query can be evaluated every minute for faster time to fire.

Learn more:

NOW AVAILABLE: Regular API Management service updates for January 2022 with new features, bug fixes, and other improvements.

Learn more:

NOW AVAILABLE: Enable the ‘automatic extension upgrade’ feature on the Azure Monitor agent extension to automatically get new extension versions rolled out to your virtual machines and scale sets in Azure.

Learn more:

IN PREVIEW: New features now available in public preview include automatic time series ID detection for automation, automated ML model’s training code generation, and move Azure Machine Learning workspaces between subscriptions.

Learn more:

IN PREVIEW: Resource configuration changes, a feature enabling the querying of changes to Azure resource configurations across subscriptions, management groups, and tenant, is now in public preview.

Learn more:

Product, Sales and Technical Enablement

9 March  |  10:00
Azure Webinar Series: A cost-effective approach to innovation and application modernization in the cloud

16 March  |  10:00
Azure Webinar Series: How to Securely backup your data and scale in cloud with Azure Backup and Azure Storage

23 March  |  14:00
Microsoft SPLA Program – Back to Basics

24 March  |  14:00
Microsoft Defender for Endpoints



Microsoft Teams Essentials:
A guide to features


Move your RDS Deployment to Azure


Licensing on-premises products in CSP


Azure Burstable Series


Microsoft Security in the Cloud


Azure at a Glance


How to Power BI as a Partner


Be Azure Ready – powered by First Distribution


Breakout Rooms on Teams


Why Microsoft for Compliance


Dynamics 365 Licensing Guide August 2021


Cloud partners are more profitable, grow faster, and have more recurring revenue


Microsoft 365 Enterprise License Map.


Build Your Ultimate Guard with Microsoft 365.


Microsoft Power Apps, Microsoft Power Automate and Microsoft Power Virtual Agents Licensing Guide

Did You Know

Operations updates:

Please note that when you want to generate a quote or place and order for any of the free education SKU’s, you must put in quantity as zero.

Please note that all requests for cancellation/suspension or reduction of licenses must be done on License Central.

These requests will not be processed from email.

If you need guidance on the steps to log such a request, please get in touch with your Account Manager or the Operations Team.

Annual subscriptions can be managed in full, from your webstore – adding and removing licenses

Add-on subscriptions can now also be purchased from your store, provided that the parent subscription is already purchased.

Please use the following email address for any Microsoft Operations related queries/requests:

Please contact your Account Manager for the above as this is not available on License Central for Africa

To get all the value First Distribution has to offer, lookout for the upcoming  campaigns we will be releasing to market. 

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Kind regards,
The First Distribution Microsoft Team