On July 1, Microsoft transitioned all its existing technical support plans to what it calls Unified Support. The company says this will streamline how you engage it for support without having to tally up your available problem resolution or reactive support hours.
The marketing message from Microsoft is clear: No worries about whether you’re running out of hours if you’re encountering a serious issue with your Microsoft software and services, so you can focus on running your business.
However, with that security blanket comes an increase in cost; According to some industry experts, enterprises in the US will pay up to 30% more for Microsoft Unified Support. When you combine that with your Software Assurance payments, you will pay up to 39% for your maintenance and support, which is 56% higher than the industry average. And some client companies are reporting increases even higher.
Essentially, you’ll be paying a Microsoft tax for the pleasure of working directly with the vendor’s enterprise support team to keep your systems up and running. Many enterprises are asking us if they even have a choice – since they are committed to using Microsoft software and services, will they also need to pay for Microsoft enterprise support?
The good news is that you do have Microsoft enterprise support alternatives. Here are 10 reasons why you should switch to a Microsoft Unified Support alternative to avoid this 30% Microsoft tax:
Who is actually troubleshooting and working your support tickets? You would assume it is Microsoft employees, but that’s usually not the case. Third-party vendors (v-badges) like India-based Tata or Wipro are actually doing the work. You can discern this from the email address of the support engineer. If you are paying for premium support, you should get premium support. US Cloud will never outsource its support services. In fact, all TAM/DSE are USA-based, making us ITAR/DFARS compliant.
At all levels (core, advanced, performance) of Unified Support, your cost is a percentage of your Office 365 and client software annual costs, as well as a cut of your other software and online services annual spend. US Cloud only bills you for the services you consume, in the manner that works best for you.
Depending on the tier of Unified Support you purchase – in other words, how much you’re willing to pay – you will have a dedicated team or share with other Microsoft customers. Are you a public sector entity? Make sure that a vendor offering a Microsoft Unified Support alternative can assure you only US citizens are handling your support cases so you don’t run afoul of DFARS or ITAR.
In the Unified world, non-human proactive support is unlimited. However, you will pay extra for an engineer. Or, if you are a Performance or Advanced tier Unified support customers, you will have a certain number of days built into your contract. If having an experienced Microsoft engineer on call to help is important to you, be prepared to pay an additional Microsoft tax for the service. Given that many times third-party contractors are handling your support, look for an alternative like US Cloud, which has more than 20 years of experience across all Microsoft technologies as part of the support hours for which you’ve already paid.
In the Unified model, you will have unlimited hours … as long as you’re OK with picking up the phone. However, maybe you don’t have to call. Online services will cost you extra in the Unified Support model.
In the Unified model, the one-hour critical/catastrophic SLA holds except for Advanced tier Unified Support customers. They’ll have a 30-minute SLA for critical issues. For standard problems, expect to wait anywhere between 4 and 8 hours. US Cloud responds within 6 minutes to all calls regardless of how critical they may be.
Those paying for the lowest tier of the Unified model will have no way of getting to third tier support. For all others, it’s included but at varying levels of criticality. US Cloud has handled more than 61,000 support tickets, and have escalated less than 1 percent to Microsoft. However, in the case you do need to get escalated to that level, it’s included in your hours. We will work with you every step of the way to navigate the Microsoft support system and get you the resolution you need as soon as possible.
Despite Microsoft’s size, you cannot realistically expect to enjoy the same SLAs if the company is rolling out a new version of Office 365 or patches for its on-premises software. There seems to be little communication between Microsoft’s engineering and services groups. So, when demand increases for support, SLA response times slip and fail. The Microsoft Technical Account Manager is then forced to triage unhappy Unified customers paying 30% more for less support.
Unless you have a named secondary (backup) Technical Account Manager (TAM) or Designated System Engineer (DSE) on your contract, you’ll be at the whim of whoever is available to try and assist you. Or worse, your needs may go unheard for a week or two. You’ll have to plan ahead for when these key Microsoft roles are unavailable to assist you in time of crisis. That’s more work that you’re expected to do, even though you’re paying almost a third more for enterprise support services.
Many companies we speak with are having to push their Microsoft account representative hard to hold their company accountable if it misses a SLA. The SLA should be financially backed to incentivize the provider. Aggressive SLAs are common in cloud service provider agreements – your Microsoft Unified Support contract should be no different.
Tired of paying an additional Microsoft tax for a lackluster support experience? Get the right level of support with US Cloud, the industry’s first true alternative to Microsoft Unified Support. Contact us today for more information and a free trial.