It is an interesting time to be a Microsoft Support customer (to say the least). Many of you reading this may have already started to experience some of the changes that Microsoft is forcing on their customers. For those of you that have an upcoming renewal, you are about to find out.
Specifically, Microsoft is in the process of phasing out the Premier Support model that most enterprises are familiar with. Simply put, Premier was an added cost to your Microsoft annual fees, where you would pay (an often significantly large) fee that was tied to things such as the number of Problem Resolution Support hours, Support Account Management hours, or support for a specific product, etc.
The key here is that your Premier Support agreement would clearly outline the hours, services, and resources that you are entitled to as part of your Microsoft support. Of course, the costs of these services can vary, but at least you are able to drive a fixed level of support for a fixed cost.
Although different organizations are able to achieve varying levels of transparency into the line item costs themselves, the basis for your negotiation was tied to the actual support that you need.
Pay More for Less
Unfortunately, paying for what you actually need is no longer an option with Microsoft. Microsoft has quietly shifted to offering a new package called Unified Support which will eventually completely replace Premier Support.
There are several levels or tiers of Unified Support which of course include more enhanced features and functionality as you move up. The issue with this is tied to the way that Unified Support is priced; your Unified Support fees will be calculated based upon a percentage of your net spend with Microsoft.
Does this sound familiar? For those of you who have been dealing with Microsoft in the past (or another on-premises provider), this sounds an awful lot like maintenance fees. And the question becomes, is the support or maintenance you’re paying for worth the actual services you are receiving? For many organizations, the answer is no.
Unlike Premier Support, where you can adjust the hours and services you are paying for, Unified Support fees scale upwards along with the rest of your Microsoft portfolio. Every new user added, new product adopted and service utilized, will drive up your support fees when you go to renew your Unified Support agreement. This is just one example that highlights how vital it is to ensure that you are prepared for your Microsoft support renewal.
How to Prepare
For organizations where the Unified model does not deliver the right value (or even where it is simply just too expensive), it is important that diligence is done around alternative support offerings. Perhaps you can utilize your Microsoft relationship to see what support is available from a supplier (e.g., Large Account Reseller (LAR), Licensing Solution Provider (LSP), or Cloud Service Provider (CSP)) that’s already in your ecosystem. There are other Microsoft support services out there as well that can be factored into your evaluation. Ultimately, there is no greater way to affect change than having the ability to walk away.
There is precedent out there for organizations to maintain a Premier Support model as part of their renewal. It is not as simple as asking for Premier, however; it takes a consistent and unified approach (across your entire organization) with rationale as to why Premier is right for you. Unfortunately, the further into 2019 we get, the less precedent there is. Microsoft has been aggressively pushing Unified Support and we do not expect that to diminish.
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