The Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) plans to launch a Small Business Competency, designed to highlight those channel pros who excel at matching the smallest of organizations to the right Microsoft technologies -- with a special emphasis on Microsoft Office 365 and other cloud solutions.

When the competency launches in June 2012, according to Microsoft's press release, it's going to bring Microsoft partners the ability to differentiate in the increasingly competitive SMB cloud services market. Those partners that qualify get access to enhanced marketing tools, technical resources and sales collateral for partners helping small businesses move to the cloud.

“As the cloud opportunity continues to expand and mature in the small-business segment, this new competency will enable each Small Business Competency partner to have a cloud conversation with each of their customers,” said Microsoft Channel Chief Jon Roskill in a prepared statement.

The program has a special focus on Windows 7, Microsoft Server 2008, Windows Small Business Server 2011 and Microsoft Office 365. Intriguingly, Roskill and his channel crew expect the Small Business Competency to shoot up quickly and become one of the biggest parts of MPN.

The big guys of the tech world are starting to come around to the idea that yes, the cloud is here to stay. And fortunately for TalkinCloud readers, that's translating into good-faith efforts to get partners up to speed in an increasingly cloudy marketplace.