Q2 2022 Analyst Report – Microsoft Premier/Unified Support

As Premier Ends, Inflation Accelerates Unified Cost

97% of the Fortune 500 rely on Microsoft software and are frustrated by rising support costs and falling quality.

Inflation is at multiyear highs, leading many CFOs to look for costs to cut. As Premier is being retired, analysts have identified Microsoft Unified Support as a significant cost reduction and avoidance opportunity in 2022.

In 2022, Microsoft Unified Support’s falling quality will intersect with a faster growing cost curve accelerated by inflation. That intersection is the decision point for third party Microsoft support according to IT research analysts.

Audience: Sourcing, Procurement and Vendor Management | CFO | CIO

Microsoft Premier/Unified Support - Analyst Report Q2 2022
IT research analysts identify 2022 as Microsoft third party support tipping point with Premier end of life and 6.5% inflation on top of Unified's 30-50% cost increases.

Premier Support End of Life at Microsoft

Microsoft Premier Support End of Life (EOL) is June 30, 2022, which aligns with Microsoft’s fiscal year end. The Microsoft Enterprise Support Lifecycle provides consistent and predictable guidelines for support throughout the life of a product, helping customers manage their IT investments and environments while strategically planning for the future.

MSFT Premier Support is the consumption-based support model where enterprises buy the number of support hours they anticipate they will use in the following year. In general, Premier most closely maps the support spend to an organization’s specific Microsoft technology support requirements.

Once Microsoft Premier Support is retired on June 30, 2022 any remaining Premier Support subscribers will be transitioned to the new Unified Support model. MSFT Unified Support is the new on-demand support model which covers the entire organization and all Microsoft technologies.

CIOs and IT Leaders need to understand what happens when their Premier Support ends. Procurement and Sourcing Leaders tasked with IT cost optimization and future cost avoidance should explore alternatives Microsoft Unified Support.  Significant cost savings is possible.

As of February 2022, Software Assurance Benefit (SAB) Problem Resolution Support (PRS) credits have been retired and are no longer available to offset Unified Support transition costs.

The End of Life date of June 30, 2022 for Premier Support is currently not applicable for government organizations, academic, and non-profit institutions who have not yet transitioned to Unified Support. More information on the end of sale date for this segment will be shared later in 2022.

Pandemic IT Strategies Impact Margins

Some of the actions IT leaders took during the early days of the pandemic have contributed to technology supply and service challenges that their organizations now face as demand recovers.

“74% of CFOs are now concerned with the prospect of lower profitability because of margin pressures.”
— Gartner Research

Many CIOs are responding to early input price inflation by passing on technology costs to customers and failed to make long-term structural changes, such as investing in technology suppliers to increase efficiency and improve costs. The result is they are now faced with eroding margins as they pay higher prices for IT salaries and services as demand has surged.

Less than a quarter of CTOs have pointed to innovation in their product lines to mitigate rising costs, while just 8% said they had made long-term capital investments in technology suppliers to improve digital efficiencies.

Microsoft Premier/Unified Support Impacts Margins

Use Technology to Fight Inflation

Investing in technology in the face of inflation, not scaling back, can reduce the cost of doing business.

  • Inflation is at multiyear highs, which can drive lower profitability in organizations, leading many CFOs to look for costs to cut or delay.
  • Yet scaling back on digital transformation initiatives in the face of inflation is the wrong approach.
  • Leading digital organizations have a lower cost of doing business and thus a significant competitive advantage in the current inflationary environment.

In 2021, 60% of organizations were experiencing wage inflation. Since then, mentions of inflation on earnings calls have increased eightfold. There’s little question that inflation will be a big theme in 2022 or that it will present challenges.

When faced with challenges that could harm profitability, the instinctive CFO response is to reduce costs near-term or delay spending until inflation subsides.

In many areas, the instinctive approach to control costs will be the right one to mitigate inflationary margin pressures. Simply trying to spend your way out of inflation is not going to work.

However, digital initiatives should be seen through a different lens. Well-planned and implemented digital initiatives must have a long-term deflationary effect on business costs and, subsequently, the price of products or services.

“We call this digital deflation — investing in technology to permanently reduce the cost of doing business.”
– Alexander Bant, VP Finance Practice, Gartner

Digital investment is not the only way that you can mitigate inflationary pressures, but it may be a route you haven’t considered. Gartner experts recommend a two-pronged approach to this:

  1. Continue to fund the right digital enterprise growth bets, even if margins seem tight.
  2. Apply technology to deflate the cost of finance.

Continue to place long-term bets when funding the enterprise digital strategy

CFOs must try to lead the C-suite to drive a unified enterprise digital strategy. Inflation can be a catalyst for organizations to drive key digital and cost reduction initiatives across the whole business.

Use US Cloud Microsoft Support to Fight Inflation

Microsoft Support Cost Reduction Opportunity

Enterprises are leveraging AI to identify opportunities to reduce spend and better optimize their IT expense management.  Gartner, Accenture, and IDC have identified Microsoft Unified Support as a significant cost reduction and avoidance opportunity for their Fortune 500 and Global 2000 clients.

Consumption-based vs. As Needed

Premier Support is a consumption-based model.  You buy the number of hours you think you will need in a given year.  Overall, most Sourcing, Procurement and Vendor Management (SPVM) buyers feel that Premier gets them close to their actual needs most of the time. Unified Support is an as needed model.  The issue being that some SPVM buyers and organizations don’t need support for all Microsoft products and cloud services – they simply don’t use all of them.  As a result, they can’t justify the significant cost increase or multiple of moving from Premier to Unified.

Unified Support’s unlimited Microsoft product support initially looks attractive but often results in significant cost increases for enterprises over time. Unified Support is forecasted to cost 2-5x more than Premier over the next 5 years and a 4-6 % increase in most Enterprise Agreements (EA) at renewal.

“Unified Support costs are based on SA spending AND spending on online services AND money that would be spent on SA for any product which was purchased over the last 5 years without SA!”
— Michael Silver, Gartner Report: Microsoft’s Unified – Some Orgs Will Now Pay for What Was Free

For some enterprises, IT Procurement leaders are able to absorb the 12-15% increase during the year 1 Unified transition from Premier.  They may even look the other way for year 2 and absorb that 10-12% increase.  But by year 3, many are faced with an effective 30-45% increase that shows no sign of slowing. Looking for an alternative to Microsoft Unified by year 3 is a Procurement priority since it results in significant immediate cost savings and future savings.

Microsoft Third Party Support Market Landscape

Third party support providers offer both cost-cutting and cost avoidance opportunities for organizations to reduce current and future year operating expenditure (opex) spend and budget. These capabilities should be evaluated as part of a feasibility study to analyze cost savings opportunities to reduce the rising maintenance and support fees from Microsoft.

Evaluate Third-Party Support to Help Fund Future Innovation

As software vendors focus investments on new cloud platforms, current, robust licensed applications receive less investment and fewer resources dedicated to support.

The significant savings from third-party support allows customers to fund digital transformation projects that they may be unable to deliver on while under vendor support. Customers can potentially move more quickly to innovate by removing the overhead and burden of vendor support.

Determine if Your Organization is a Good Candidate for Third-Party Support

Procurement, sourcing, and vendor management professionals can use some standard rules of thumb to determine the fit of third-party support for their organizations. Companies that typically move to third-party support do so to address one or more of three primary circumstances:

Migration: They are migrating from an on-premise environment, i.e., MSFT Exchange, to a cloud-based environment, i.e., Office 365. The third-party support vendor maintains the existing environment until the migration is complete. The customer gets excellent support and saves at least 50% on maintenance fees that can be redirected to fund the migration or another initiative.

Financial Relief: They need either short-term financial relief or are in deep financial distress. Third-party support is a smart way to achieve immediate cost savings that can be dropped to the bottom line. Interestingly, companies that are newly funded by private equity firms are often mandated to reduce costs fast, thus are also prime candidates for third-party support.

Innovation: Today’s fastest growing driver of third-party support is the desire to innovate, often spearheaded by a journey to the cloud. Companies are adopting third-party support to go in “sustain” mode for their on-premise applications. The money saved and additional time earned enable smarter and faster innovation. These companies are perfectly content with their functional and stable on-premise applications and choose a third-party to maintain performance, security, and interoperability while they redirect the dramatic savings towards hybrid cloud solutions.

Multi-Year Support Contracts with Price Caps

Organizations should, at a minimum, negotiate all renewing vendor agreements to include price caps.  Better yet, enterprises should seek out multi-year vendor agreements to insulate themselves from inflationary driven price increases.

In some cases, no price protection exists for ongoing maintenance and support in vendor contracts. In such cases, particularly with the three to five year term multi-year Microsoft Enterprise Agreements (EA) or Unified contracts, there is high risk of escalating maintenance and support costs or end-of-support announcements during these multiyear terms.

If there is no price protection language in your Microsoft contract, or if the price increase protection is higher than the current consumer price index (CPI) rate, third-party support services should be evaluated.

How Much Does Microsoft Unified Support Cost

Enterprise Software Platform Integration

The top 4 enterprise software platforms are SAP, Oracle, Salesforce, and Microsoft.

If you use Microsoft Unified Support then you have limited enterprise software integrations available for identity and ITSM.  However, if you explore third-party Microsoft support providers you will find an expanding list of integration options including Okta and ServiceNow.

Okta is the world’s number 1 identity platform for enterprises to secure digital interactions and accelerate innovation.  Gartner ranks Okta and the leader in access management ahead of Ping and Microsoft. Forrester ranks Okta the Leader in Identity as a Service (IDaaS) for Enterprise. Okta integrates seamlessly with US Cloud.

ServiceNow is an 8-time Gartner Magic Quadrant winner for IT Service Management (ITSM) and the gold standard for enterprise helpdesk and incident management. Core integrations include: SAP, Oracle, Okta, Jira, Cisco, Adobe, Salesforce, Slack, and US Cloud.

Alternatives to Microsoft Unified Support

“Higher Microsoft support costs and falling quality are driving a Unified exodus. By switching to US Cloud, procurement and IT leaders are able to protect budgets and make investments that create competitive advantage and drive enterprise growth.”
— Robert E. LaMear IV, CEO, US Cloud

Advantages of Using Third Party MSFT Support

There are several advantages to using a third party Microsoft support provider.  Advantages include economic, operational efficiencies, and overall quality of the support experience.

Once a feasibility study is completed and the organization has decided to engage with a third party support competitor to Microsoft, substantial opex savings opportunities include:

Reduce software budgets – specifically software maintenance (support) profit and loss (P&L) operating expense (opex). Average annual savings is typically around 50% for larger organizations when compared to the Unified Support pricing model of Microsoft.

Financially backed SLAs to guarantee quality (Microsoft has targets) and specialized services such as Microsoft software development or customization.

Customized service agreements to meet an organization’s particular support needs such as fewer Designated Support Engineer (DSE) hour thresholds or focused support on a particular MSFT technology or mission-critical support for a selling season or event.

Enterprises using the lower-priced third party support provider’s proposal as leverage when negotiating with Microsoft.

Scenarios to Leverage Third Party Support for Microsoft Software

Cloud migrations – When version upgrades are no longer needed during cloud migrations, the third-party support provider can offer technical support for the customer entitled version so organizations can realize the average 50% cost reduction. This analysis should be part of the cloud migration planning checklist and total cost of ownership (TCO) analysis. Migration to alternative vendors or solutions – When new vendors or alternate solutions are selected to replace on-premises software products, third-party support can be analyzed to determine if a viable option is to use software with perpetual licenses under the customer-entitled version until the migration cutover date, and beyond, as necessary.

Low value, low volume technical support – The historical volumetric analysis of all help desk and service desk technical support and incident tickets should be analyzed every six months. This analysis helps to determine the ROI when comparing the value received to the annual cost paid for the Microsoft support service. This analysis should include the frequency of support calls, type of support, severity level, resolution time and results, and incident ticket close data for each of the software products in your MSFT portfolio.

Microsoft end of life – Situations can exist where older-version software is still being used to support certain applications, but will no longer be provided by MSFT without a customized support agreement and for an additional fee. Third-party support would not only result in the average 50% cost reduction compared to the current software vendor standard maintenance and support fees but avoid paying high customized professional service rates that Microsoft typically charges after the end-of-support date.

Multi-year Microsoft support contracts – Microsoft is moving aggressively to sell multi-year Unified contracts to lock-in customers to higher pricing and protect margins. Never include Unified Support in your Enterprise Agreement (EA) since it is rarely given the scrutiny or 3 to 5 year projections needed to determine true cost to the organization. If there is no price protection language in your contract, or if the price increase protection is higher than the current consumer price index (CPI) rate, seek an alternative.

 

Traditional IT Partners Fail at Microsoft Enterprise Support

TRADITIONAL IT PARTNERS FAIL TO DELIVER MICROSOFT ENTERPRISE SUPPORT SERVICES

Traditional IT Partners Fail to Deliver Microsoft Enterprise Support Services and Partner with US Cloud

Traditional IT partners like software resellers and MSPs are trying to grab a piece of the growing Microsoft Enterprise Support market. However, they are failing to replace MSFT due to lack of focus, experience and support sovereignty. As a result, many are partnering with US Cloud.

Audience: Enterprise IT | Sourcing, Procurement and Vendor Management



Traditional IT Partners Supportability

Large Microsoft Software Resellers, Managed Service Providers (MSP’s), Value- Added Resellers (VAR’s), Cloud Service Providers (CSP’s), and IT consultancies — traditional IT vendors of all stripes have started to offer Microsoft support in response to requests from their clients. However, the effort to add-on a 24/7 enterprise-level MSFT support has proven challenging for many.

Large IT Services organizations have some inherent advantages as they enter the high-end support market. Partners tend to be more nimble and responsive, with services (not software) as their core offering. They enjoy established relationships with clients and are already connected with Microsoft support in some capacity.

However, providing advanced high-level support across the entire Microsoft stack, including non-business hours is extremely difficult. From infrastructure to staffing senior engineers in off-hours, some otherwise competent IT outsources or Microsoft project shops have struggled.

Another area of concern is the ability to quickly escalate when necessary. Escalations to Microsoft for critical tickets is a vital requirement that not all Partners understand or are set up to manage well. It requires the right partner agreement and sophisticated vendor management practices to avoid ballooning costs or big delays.

Support sovereignty is the final sticking point holding back some global MS Software Resellers and multi-national MSPs. These international organizations are unable to guarantee who will work the ticket and from where. Just like data sovereignty, support sovereignty is critical to enterprises concerned about their security. Both Microsoft’s Premier Support data breach and JEDI federal requirements and concerns of support outsourcers industrial espionage and intellectual property theft highlight this important but often overlooked aspect of Microsoft Enterprise Support.


Traditional IT Partners – Pros

Microsoft Enterprise Support - IT Partner Pros & Cons

Working with an existing partner can take advantage of established relationships and also lessen set-up time.

Many larger VAR’s or MSP’s have competent senior (project) engineers familiar with your systems and can do some PRS work.

CSP’s may already have Delegated Admin permissions with your company, a critical component for rapid escalation to Microsoft.

MSP’s run 24/7 reactive operations and have much of the necessary infrastructure (ticketing, knowledge base, and on-call systems, etc.)

If run well, augmenting internal Service Desk staff with a CSP or other partner can potentially save money vs. Unified Support.


Traditional IT Partners – Cons

Microsoft Enterprise Support - IT Partner Pros & Cons

Elite engineers often don’t work non-business hours. Partners without true three-shift coverage use “on-call” systems that are often unreliable.

MSP’s tout 24/7 operations, but these operations are almost always focused on L1-L2 resources. It is imperative to verify that partner resources are capable of handling complex issues.

Many MSFT Partners specialize in certain technologies, lacking broad L2-L4 engineering talent necessary to cover the breadth and depth of the entire MSFT stack at scale.

If a Partner can’t close tickets internally, they have two choices: escalation paths to MSFT that are inexpensive and painfully slow, or paths that are fast but very expensive.

Poorly run programs often promise quality and savings but can often only deliver on one of those pledges.


Questions You Need to Ask

In the last 18 months, many organizations began to consider ditching Microsoft Enterprise Support to either go it alone with internal staff and/or leveraging a traditional IT services provider for their support. Here are some qualifying questions to ensure alternative support solutions are up to the task.

Vendor Checklist Questions Microsoft Enterprise Support
1

With this alternative support option, can we fully eliminate our MSFT Premier or Unified Support contract?

2

Is this a core competency of the Partner? What percentage their revenue comes from Microsoft Problem Resolution Support (PRS) tickets? How long have they offered a Premier / Unified replacement?

3

What kind of tickets does the Partner handle? Simple L1 – L2 tickets (MSP’s) or complex L2-L4 issues?

4

How does the Partner cover all Microsoft technologies well? How do they address any skill gaps?

5

What are the Partner’s guaranteed initial response times? For normal severities and critical cases?

6

What are response times like during non-business hours?

7

What level engineers will be available on nights / weekends / holidays?

8

If using an “on-call” system, what is the confidence level we will be able to get the right engineer engaged quickly in an emergency?

9

What percentage of PRS tickets do we/they solve in-house vs. having to escalate to Microsoft?

10

What are the SLA’s, processes, and agreements in place to govern when to escalate tickets to Microsoft?

11

What level Microsoft Partner Agreement does our potential support provider use for escalations?

12

What are Microsoft’s SLA’s for responding under the Partner’s plan (Pro/Advanced/Premier for Partners)?

13

What existing clients does the partner have — specifically the ones using this Microsoft Support service?

Third-party support allows customers to use the savings (up to 50% in costs) to fund digital transformation projects that they were unable to achieve while stuck in an ever-increasing support cycle. — Gartner 2019

Ready For Microsoft’s Patch Tuesday?

When enterprises look at their security posture, they generally are looking to counteract the latest malware of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks to ensure their data is safe and maintain business continuity.

Ready for Microsoft Patch Tuesday

However, chasing what is covered most in the press will leave you wide open to the biggest cause for enterprise data breaches: poor enterprise patch management. According to The Market Snapshot Report: Secure Operations Automation, 80% of enterprise data breaches are the result of bad patch management.

Studies and our conversations with our customers find that many are struggling to just stay current with critical patch releases for the enterprise IT systems they use – including mobile apps, cloud-native, and legacy systems of record that could be commercial off-the-shelf, open source and/or custom built.

With new vulnerabilities emerging daily and the need to satisfy regulatory compliance regulations, businesses know enterprise patch management should be a high priority. However, a recent Ponemon study shows 65% of enterprises have difficulty prioritizing what needs to be patched first. This paralysis by analysis causes backlogs of patches and spirals into situations where you’re fire fighting to patch what you can find with no idea as to whether it’s even fortifying your IT security posture.

The easy answer to solve this problem of patch management is to stay current altogether. However, that’s easier said than done in an environment where many enterprises’ IT staff continue to shrink and software companies are having their own issues getting patch management right.

Microsoft Patch Tuesday

Case in point: Microsoft. July’s Patch Tuesday – also known as monthly quality updates – caused stability problems for Windows operating systems and applications alike – particularly Windows and .NET Framework. The July 10 patches came with 47 “known issues” listed in the security section. Microsoft admitted that these updates also caused problems for users of SQL Server as well as Skype and Exchange Server.

Depending on the Microsoft products enterprises use, the global technology giant had different nuanced advice to address the issues. For many organizations, the advice is that if they hadn’t already installed the problematic July 10 patch, that they’d have to install it and then update it with patches released in August. Further to that, if enterprises have large clusters where upgrading each node isn’t an option, they’d need to contact Microsoft Support – which can take even longer and cause further business disruption.

Microsoft’s size, while many times an advantage, is a tremendous disadvantage in this particular situation. The fact that it still supports Windows 7 and Windows 10, each with varying schedules for feature and patch upgrades, is one issue. The bigger one is just with enterprises using Windows 10. There are four versions of Windows 10 released currently supported by Microsoft, and organizations don’t receive feature releases at the same time. Microsoft uses artificial intelligence and well as telemetry to determine when a Windows 10 release is ready for an organization. This leads to communications and testing breakdowns which diminish Microsoft’s patch quality.

Microsoft MVP Recommends US Cloud Enterprise Patch ManagementThere is a lot of discontent from the field and even from the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) community about these issues, and there’s low confidence at this point as to whether the situation will get better with each monthly Patch Tuesday. Many consultants are advising their clients to turn off Windows updates, with many enterprises waiting at least two weeks to apply patches. The general consensus is that especially for small businesses, which make up the vast majority of businesses around the world, if they’re not confident they can quickly backup and restore their machines they should avoid downloading the patches. While understandable from a business continuity standpoint, delaying enterprise patch management leaves companies wide open to security vulnerabilities and causes them to run afoul of compliance regulations they must follow which mandates they keep software updated.

Since many enterprises use some form of Microsoft software and services, these problems could make you want to throw up your hands and turn off all updates until the storm clears. But what if it never clears?

The good news is you can turn to trusted enterprise patch management experts like US Cloud to unburden your enterprise IT and security teams from the day-to-day operational patching of both cloud and legacy infrastructure. Don’t worry about the storms around you – with US Cloud, you’ll have a comprehensive enterprise patch management strategy that keeps you safe from software vulnerabilities while meeting enterprise regulatory and compliance requirements.

US Cloud was born in the Cloud so our ability to manage cloud-based systems is baked into our DNA. At the same time, we have 13 years of experience managing organizations’ on-premises IT infrastructure. Over the years, we have found that many organizations who outsource the support and maintenance of their IT operations experience inconsistencies related to high personnel turnover rates, a lack of the right experience and a one-size-fits-all approach that is not customizable to meet their individual business requirements.

As a trusted advisor in the deployment of advanced infrastructure, virtualization and cloud solutions, US Cloud brings to the table a proven track record built on decades of virtualization and cloud computing expertise.

Learn more about Enterprise Patch Management from US Cloud today and get started on the journey to maintain business continuity while eliminating your patch backlog, improving audit readiness, reducing open vulnerabilities, and mitigating security breaches from existing patches.

Microsoft Pay Per Incident (PPI) Alternative

Microsoft Pay Per Incident (PPI) Alternative

Looking for a Microsoft Pay Per Incident (PPI) alternative? See 5 reasons why companies of all sizes are switching from MS PPI to US Cloud Premier Support services.

When you decide to use Microsoft software and services for your business, you expect to receive the highest quality support possible. Oftentimes, when companies sign enterprise agreements with Microsoft, it comes with its enterprise support. Before July 2018, this was called Premier Support, but recently the company transitioned to Unified Support. We’ve written at length about what this means for your business, but there’s an interesting use case we’ve come across with our small and midsize clients that you need to know about: Microsoft Professional Support, also known as Pay Per Incident (PPI).

If you use Microsoft software and services but don’t spend enough money to qualify for an enterprise agreement, chances are you’ve been pointed to PPI by Microsoft. Available as a single PPI or a 5-pack of incidents, this level of support focuses on troubleshooting a specific problem, error message, or functionality that is not working as intended for Microsoft products. In these cases, Microsoft defines an incident as a single support issue and the reasonable effort to resolve it. You can only submit PPI requests online, and you can expect to have an initial response anywhere between two and eight hours after you contact Microsoft. When Microsoft does finally get back to you, a support professional assigned to your case will define what it believes to be the problem and won’t start working on resolve it until you agree to their definition.

The fact that it is a slow response time is one thing, but the bigger issue comes in that PPI incidents don’t have to be resolved to be considered closed. Microsoft doesn’t guarantee it will solve your issue. Even if the support professional assigned to your case can’t fix your problem, you could still be charged by Microsoft. If you give up by closing your case, Microsoft still reserves the right to charge you as though your issue was resolved.

The other problem with PPI? Microsoft will not guarantee that a US-based professional – much less an actual Microsoft employee – will be assigned to troubleshoot your support ticket. This becomes a huge issue for public sector agencies who cannot allow anyone outside of the United States to perform software support services, due to NIST Special Publication 800-171 Protecting Covered Defense Information in Nonfederal Systems and Organizations (DFARS) and International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).

Essentially, DFARS and ITAR mandate that data and information accumulated by many public sector agencies cannot go outside the United States, with very few exceptions. When it comes to support of enterprise systems, ensuring that support is based in the USA and not overseas is paramount. These public sector agencies cannot risk otherwise.

The good news is that there are alternatives that provide a better level of service while ensuring all support is based in America.

Here Are Five Reasons to Switch from Microsoft PPI to US Cloud Premier Support:

  1. All support is handled in the US. You will never be outsourced to a call center overseas. All US Cloud staff are located in St. Louis, Missouri. We also completely comply with DFARS and ITAR, so you don’t need to worry about having your support tickets being farmed around the globe.
  2. Two decades of Microsoft experience. US Cloud is a Microsoft Certified Partner and Cloud Solution Provider, meaning we are experts in the ins and outs of Microsoft technologies for companies of all sizes and in every industry sector.
  3. Response to any support ticket in six minutes. The fastest anyone will respond to a ticket you submit through PPI is two hours. US Cloud will get back to you 20 times faster, because every issue is business critical.
  4. A white glove customer experience, every time. No language barriers, no disjointed systems that force you to repeat your issue over and over again as you get handed off to different support professionals. At US Cloud, you only need to tell us your problem once, and we’ll take it from there. Our only goal is your complete satisfaction.
  5. A better support experience without a 30% Microsoft Tax. Your support hours never expire with us. Only purchase the support you need and don’t pay a Microsoft tax for extra for support on products you don’t use. In many cases, that means you’ll save up to 30% with US Cloud Premier Support versus PPI or any other Microsoft enterprise support option.

Ready for a better enterprise support experience that doesn’t discriminate based on how much money you spend on Microsoft software? Contact us today!

Who’s Really Handling Your Microsoft Enterprise Support Calls?

You call the Microsoft enterprise support phone number and get outsourced overseas. You expect USA-based support from a MS employee. Microsoft has been pushing to transition its enterprise customers from a Premier Support model to a Unified Support model. As of July 1, 2018, Unified Support is the new reality for companies that want support for its investment in Microsoft’s software and services.

Microsoft Enterprise Support - Blue Badge

With this new model comes many changes in the way Microsoft delivers enterprise support. There is less emphasis on tallying your support hours over the course of a year, which comes with a 30% increase in cost. When you put all the costs together, you’re paying 39% for maintenance and support from Microsoft. That’s 56% higher than the industry average.

We’ve shared the questions you should ask when negotiating and the differences between Microsoft Premier Support and Microsoft Unified Support, but one issue has come to the forefront when we’ve spoken with enterprises. Ultimately, they expect that when they pay this 30% Microsoft tax for support they will receive better quality service from Microsoft employees who possess the greatest knowledge and expertise to help them fully utilize Microsoft software to run their businesses.

What Paying a Microsoft Tax Actually Gets You

The reality is that in many cases Microsoft Unified Support is in name only. Microsoft Enterprise Support - Third Party Vendor

  • 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 or when you speak with them on the phone.
  • 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 if the TAM or DSE is unavailable.
  • The size of Microsoft, which is often a strength, is actually a tremendous weakness when it comes to enterprise support. Regardless of whether you’re a US-based company or not, when you call or email requesting support you may need to wait for someone depending on your tier of Unified Support. This can mean waiting anywhere between 4 and 8 hours for someone to respond if you are paying for the Core or Advanced tier of Microsoft Unified Support. If you’re paying for the top-of-the-line Performance, you may get a response within 30 minutes to 1 hour. If your issue is business critical, is that really fast enough?

Ultimately, many enterprises we speak with are paying a premium for a safety net that they keep falling through. Unfortunately, this happens at the moments they need stability and consistency most. Every issue you have is business critical. You should look for a Microsoft Unified Support alternative that can work with you the moment you have a problem and find a resolution.

Look no further than US Cloud, which will never offshore your problem and has the expertise to get your Microsoft software and services back up and running as quickly as possible to minimize business disruption.

  • USA-based support

    You will never be outsourced to a call center overseas. All US Cloud staff are located in St. Louis, Missouri, and we have industry leading processes in place to ensure that you receive a consistent, best-in-class support experience the moment you need it most.

  • 30-60 percent cost savings

    Our best-in-class Microsoft enterprise support comes at a fraction of the price you will pay with Microsoft. Only purchase the support you need and don’t pay a Microsoft tax for lower-quality support.

  • 5x faster response

    US Cloud will respond to your support ticket in six minutes no matter what. That’s 5 times faster than Microsoft’s most aggressive response Service Level Agreement.

  • Two decades of Microsoft experience

    US Cloud is a Microsoft Certified Partner and Cloud Solution Provider; we are experts in the ins and outs of Microsoft technologies. We’ve handled more than 61,000 Microsoft support tickets. Only 1 percent of them have been to Microsoft as third-tier support tickets. When you call us, we rapidly respond and mitigate your issues.

  • Dedicated TAM/DSE support

    US Cloud prides itself on its consistency. When you sign with us, you’ll have a dedicated Technical Account Manager or Designated Support Engineer. They will become an expert in your company’s needs and software. This way, when an issue occurs there is no delay because we don’t need to ramp up on your specific needs.

  • A white glove customer experience, every time

    We won’t make you repeat your issue over and over. We won’t pass you around to different outsourced support professionals around the globe with varying levels of knowledge and expertise. Our only goal is your complete satisfaction.

Experience US-based, six-minute premier Microsoft support for yourself.

Top 5 Tips to Negotiate a Microsoft Enterprise Support Renewal Agreement

Microsoft is switching its enterprise support customers from Premier to the new Unified model. While we’ve written at length throughout 2020 about what the change entails and what it could mean for your business, you may not have had a chance to investigate yet. As with many Microsoft enterprise customers, you likely have an annual agreement with renewal dates. These can be at all times throughout the year.

Microsoft Unified Support is part of Microsoft Enterprise Services enabling the digital transformation journey, fueled by the company’s expertise and experience. Their job is to help enterprises implement and adopt Microsoft products, services, software, and devices to solve, envision, and understand new possibilities for your business. With the new unlimited support model of Unified, this transition comes with an increase in the price tag. US-based companies are seeing cost increases from 30-50%, while some multi-national enterprises are seeing price increases of 60% or more.

Microsoft Enterprise Support Renewal – Preparation is Key – Consider These Points

Chances are that as you approach your renewal date, you will need to consider whether or not you stay with Microsoft Unified Support. First, you will need to be prepared to ask hard questions of your Microsoft account manager; recognize that Microsoft’s cloud transformation is also affecting the way they deal with enterprise agreement renewals. The vendor has always had a very structured hierarchy for approving deviations from standard pricing, terms, and licensing. Now, Microsoft aims to further standardize these practices through its Online Service Terms; a single, standard set of terms is replacing its multiple Product Use Rights documents for online services. This approach may be advantageous for Microsoft, but it could be trouble for you and your unique user environment.

Microsoft Enterprise Support Agreement Renewal - What to Consider

As with any negotiation, you should be completely confident you’ve done as much background research as possible. That way, you can ask the right questions and get the right level of support for your business-critical systems at the right time. Here are five tips to consider when your Microsoft account manager calls you to negotiate your renewal:

  1. Don’t wait until the last minute to renew. Microsoft is going to great lengths to get you to renew earlier in the quarter, including offering better pricing and discounts or allowing you to adjust contract dates.
  2. Don’t just negotiate the price. To really lower costs, make sure you understand how your unique business requirements align with standardized terms (especially for cloud offerings), and which licensing and subscription programs best support your technology, business, and budget.
  3. Stop viewing renewal negotiations as a one-time event. Your Microsoft account manager (or reseller) starts thinking about your next renewal before the ink dries on your current agreement. In fact, Microsoft follows a successful methodology for increasing spend within each of its customers. True-ups and software asset management engagements are common post-renewal events you should plan for, manage, and negotiate as diligently as a renewal.
  4. Validate reseller or account representative’s opinion on licensing. There are a variety of ways to license/subscribe to Microsoft’s offerings. Your reseller, or even Microsoft account manager, may not be well-versed in them all. Bring in unbiased expertise to assist your sourcing team with vetting the recommendations and helping structure agreements that drive lower spend and higher utilization.
  5. Be prepared for an audit. Most Microsoft enterprise customers are aware of the recent uptick in audit activity. If you haven’t recently experienced an audit, expect to undergo one in the next 12 months. Just as Microsoft brings its software asset management tools to the table, you should bring your own methods and tools to establish accurate deployment counts, compare them against entitlements to validate compliance, and skillfully interpret licensing programs, terms and conditions.

Optimize MSFT Support Costs Now to Emerge Stronger Than Competitors

Gartner has identified US Cloud as the only independent third-party support alternative to Microsoft. Enterprises can replace MSFT Premier/Unified with US Cloud and drop an immediate costs savings of 30-50% in year 1.

Put Your Microsoft Enterprise Support Spend on a Diet

As companies consider the hardware, software, and services they need to power their core business operations, many have turned to Microsoft to help achieve their goals. Unsurprisingly, companies of all sizes are looking for the IT silver bullet: one technology vendor they can employ across their IT landscape that can help meet their unique requirements, give the simplicity necessary to turn on and off services as needed, and streamline purchasing through a single agreement.

When you enter this enterprise agreement world of Microsoft, what also comes with it is an enterprise support agreement – one of the most commonly purchased ones is Microsoft Premier Support. At the beginning, it seems great: always-on global support staff with unmatched knowledge of Microsoft products. Whether it’s an issue with Azure provisioning or Microsoft Word, help is just a phone call or email away.

However, reality comes quickly as you get deeper into Microsoft enterprise support. If you have multiple IT administrators in different locations responsible for maintaining your technology portfolio, how can you quickly understand how many support hours the team has used? (It’s your responsibility.) What’s the difference between having a live person help you or receive online support? (Depends on the type of hours you purchased from Microsoft when you signed your contract.) Can you roll over hours into the next year? (No.) These are common questions that have come up for the thousands of businesses operating under the Microsoft Premier Support model. Ultimately, you need to have someone full time just in charge of understanding the nuances of support versus actually keeping your systems running optimally.

By the end of Microsoft’s fiscal year 2019 (essentially by Fall 2018), the global giant will transfer everyone over to what it calls a Unified Support model. We’ve written at length about what “unlimited” really means, but the switch is just another way that Microsoft locks you into not just its support services, but paying for everything the company has to offer even if you only use a small portion of it.

Think of Unified Support as an all-you-can-eat buffet as opposed to purchasing a block of hours in the current Premier Support model: Even if you’re not using every single service Microsoft offers, you’ll still pay for it in the Unified model.

In conversations we’ve had with our clients and others who have sticker shock at potentially paying up to 30% more for Unified Support, they’re asking themselves a fundamental question: Is it worth paying the extra money for the pleasure of knowing that they could eat whatever they want, even if they know they will only have a couple of dishes and be satisfied?

This question will undoubtedly come up more and more as software and services companies increasingly lead with their cloud options. It’s much easier to tell someone that they can scale up or down their IT services as part of operational expenses, instead of paying more capital expenses to maintain servers and hardware they may not necessarily need. Behind that, however, is the fact that many companies – Microsoft included – will charge you as if you’re using everything even if that’s not the case.

Your business is unique. You have specific needs and services that are different from your competitor. It’s about time you had a support agreement that matched that reality. The good news is that you don’t need to stop using Microsoft technology to have a right-sized performance experience.

With more than two decades of Microsoft experience and its recognition as a Microsoft Certified Partner and Cloud Solution Partner, US Cloud is your Microsoft support alternative, offering:

  • 30-60 percent cost savings – Only purchase the support you need and don’t pay extra for support on products you don’t use.
  • Hours that never expire – Don’t use all of your support hours in a year? Not a problem – roll over what you don’t use and apply toward next year.
  • Billing on your terms – We offer subscription billing and installment options that meet your specific needs.
  • 5x faster response – Microsoft Premier Support average response times hover around 30 minutes. US Cloud will respond to your ticket in 6 minutes.
  • A white glove customer experience, every time – We won’t make you repeat your issue over and over again when we transfer you to the right experts to solve your issue. Our only goal is your complete satisfaction.

You won’t be the first company to look elsewhere: Check out our customer testimonials from companies that already chose US Cloud as its Microsoft enterprise support alternative. Then, give us a call to learn how you can get a free trial of our support services and begin enjoying a superior experience immediately.

Microsoft Premier and Unified Support Alternative - US Cloud

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US CLOUD is the only Gartner-recognized Microsoft Premier & MS Unified Support alternative. Enterprises worldwide are replacing Microsoft with US CLOUD to save 30-50% on support costs.

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