Equinox IT and Connect NZ have both achieved Microsoft Gold competencies, putting them in the top one per cent of Microsoft partners globally. Equinox IT was recognised as Microsoft Gold Partner for Application Lifecycle Management (ALM), while Connect NZ attained one of only a handful of Gold Volume Licensing competencies. According to Microsoft New Zealand's director of the small, midmarket solutions & partners group, Chris Ichter, companies that achieve Microsoft Gold competencies demonstrate greater value to their customers by showcasing best-in-class capabilities and the ability to survive a rigorous and auditable approval process. These companies receive core and competency-specific benefits, including internal use software licenses and a host of support benefits ranging from technical phone support to partner advisory hours. “These partners have shown a deep expertise that puts them in the top one per cent of our partner ecosystem. They have aligned their organisations with Microsoft and can now capitalise on the benefits their Gold competency gives them, including the ability to set their businesses apart from the competition," says Itchter. “Equipped with the benefits a Gold Partner receives, we are well positioned to help our customers to improve their business with proven software development practices and leading purpose-built business applications," says Equinox IT software development director, Deane Sloan. "We have a high-capability software development team who are experts in using agile and lean approaches along with the Microsoft Visual Studio development platform. We are proud to become Microsoft’s first New Zealand Gold partner for the ALM competency, recognising our leadership and commitment in this area," he adds. According to Karl Rosnell, Connect NZ's CEO, the company takes "the role of trusted advisor to our customers seriously, and the Microsoft Gold partnership is key to our mutual success". “Holding a Microsoft Partner Gold Competency in Volume Licensing gives reassurance to customers that our company can analyse and identify their product and capability requirements and recommend the best Microsoft licensing solution for their needs," adds Rosnell.