Microsoft Premier (Unified) Renewals: End-of-Year Tips

Microsoft Premier (Unified) Renewals - Top 8 Tips - US Cloud

As the calendar year winds down, many companies are entering their annual renewal dance with Microsoft, working to get budgets set for 2023. But more and more companies are struggling with the clock winding down, with Microsoft negotiations getting delayed multiple times.

And this year, that is critical because new Premier / Unified Support price increases can get dropped on the table like lead balloons with little or no time to react.

The sticker shock of Unified Support as it replaces Premier can be 15%, 25%, even 60% or higher than the previous year. Couple that with increased EA licensing costs announced in October (which now drives Unified Support pricing as a percentage) and you have a double whammy that a lot of IT organizations are not prepared for. Here are a few things to consider, regardless of how imminent your Microsoft negotiations are:

  1. DON’T WAIT. In the past, clients have used the common negotiating tactic to delay, delay, delay to make Microsoft reps sweat. Not only isn’t that working any more, Microsoft, and particularly the Premier / Unified Support organization, are more commonly the ones dragging their feet this year. Negotiating for better pricing and discounts – or even pushing to adjust contract dates – needs to happen as early as possible to allow for enough time to counter price hikes with your due diligence.

  2. Uncouple Support from your EA agreement. In the past, companies could gain concessions on support pricing as part of co-terminus EA agreements. With Unified Support, pricing is now formulaic and offers reps much less wiggle room vs. what was Premier. There is no advantage to mixing the two conversations, so isolate them and negotiate independently.

  3. Gather granular utilization detail. For both application and support hours, it is critical to document actual levels of utilization, on a line item basis. Quantifying the gaps between promised benefits from last year’s renewal negotiation and actual consumption is a powerful lever in conversations with your Microsoft rep or re-seller.

  4. Gauge if “all-you-can-eat” support actually has value for you. Unified Support is now a catch-all agreement that bundles support across the portfolio into “unlimited” reactive support. Reactive issues happen when they happen, and most IT organizations know how many support hours they will need annually. Paying more for “unlimited” support you don’t use is not a good deal. Not to mention, with everyone now bellying up to the buffet, quality of support is starting to suffer according to early adopters.

  5. Probe on Proactive Support changes. Proactive support in Unified is now DIY with tools and resources being made available on line — BUT its now up to you to implement them. At a minimum, don’t allow this aspect of Unified Support to be presented as an unqualified benefit. Regardless of tools and spreadsheets now being un-gated, unless your staff has the expertise and time to use them on their own it should be viewed as a neutral or negative, not a positive.

  6. Level A customer? Consider an EA renewal. Many small businesses are considered Level A customers in Microsoft speak. Determine if an early EA renewal would be acceptable now, since your leverage will evaporate by the end of 2018. With EA expenditures now driving the formula that prices Unified Support, it is critical to pay attention to downstream implications and take that into account as well.

  7. Consider other providers if you have a hybrid environment. Analyze the need to renew Microsoft Software Assurance (SA) when running primarily software on-premises, leveraging dual-use rights available through Microsoft 365 and alternative solutions from other providers.

  8. Look outside Microsoft for opinions on pricing and services. There are a variety of ways to license/subscribe to Microsoft’s offerings and get support. Your re-seller, 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 EA’s, SA’s, and Support agreements that drive lower spend and higher utilization.

Microsoft Premier (Unified) Support Renewal - MS Delay Tactic

US Cloud can help you prepare for your EA, SA, and Premier Support renewal conversations as well as provide you alternatives to Microsoft’s ever-increasing price tag for its services.

  • Make sure you have world-class support the moment you need it, saving 30 percent and enjoying a 5x faster response time than Microsoft Unified Support with US Cloud’s Microsoft Support Alternative.
  • Get a comprehensive view into the health and status of your Microsoft software and services stack with US Cloud enterprise monitoring.
  • Streamline and standardize your backup processes throughout your business to cut your operational costs and SLAs for recovery time and recovery point objectives with US Cloud enterprise cloud backup.
  • Automate the patching process across all your cloud and legacy infrastructure to keep your business safe and minimize business disruption with US Cloud enterprise patch management.

US Cloud is here to help you simplify your infrastructure, unburden your IT team, and protect your company’s brand. With 2 billion logins managed since 1999, contact us and get a free quote today to learn how you can join the ranks of customers worldwide raving about US Cloud’s 24/7 all-American support and expertise to maximize your Microsoft investment.

New US Cloud Covid Relief Pricing Aids Business Recovery

NEW US CLOUD COVID RELIEF PRICING AIDS BUSINESS RECOVERY

Microsoft Premier Unified Support Covid19 Relief at US CloudNovember is a time for giving thanks and US Cloud is doing exactly that with discounted Microsoft support pricing thru year end.

It’s our way of giving back to the business community.  Expert support for the entire Microsoft product line is expensive and sometimes cost-prohibitive for business owners. US Cloud Covid relief pricing arrives just in time for the holidays to help business owners hold on to their cash, survive the pandemic and keep their MSFT systems running.

Matthew Harris - President at US CloudMatthew Harris, President, US CLOUD

Microsoft Support Customers of All Sizes in Financial Distress

Microsoft Premier/Unified Support Customers in Covid-19 Financial Distress

Figure 1.1. Industries Hit Hardest by the Covid-19 Pandemic. US Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Small and medium businesses up to enterprise size organizations that rely on Microsoft products to run their teams have suffered economically from Covid19.

The US second quarter of GDP dropped 9.1 percent. GDP tracking began in 1947 and the lowest drop until 2020 had been 3 percent. The US Bureau of Economic Analysis analyzed the economic impact of the pandemic on individual industries to explain why many technology leaders are seeking financial relief wherever possible (fig. 1.1).

Shot in the Arm – MSFT Premier/Unified for $199 Per Hour

Microsoft Premier/Unified Support $199 Per HourUS Cloud’s normal rate for Microsoft Premier (Unified) is $239 per hour but for the rest of 2020, you can lock in the Covid fighter rate of $199 for the next 2 years – a 20% discount.

If you add this Covid Relief discount to typical savings with US Cloud, you are now cutting your Microsoft support costs by 50-70%!

Faster Business Recovery – US Cloud Replaces MSFT Premier/Unified for Less

Faster Business Recovery with US Cloud Microsoft Support Cost Savings

Figure 1.2. Efficient Growth Companies vs. Average Control Peers. Gartner.

Organizations getting US Cloud Microsoft Support Covid relief will be better positioned to rebound from the pandemic, much like business leader that optimized costs and double downed on growth strategies after the last recession (fig. 1.2).

Use the pandemic as an opportunity to optimize your IT costs and emerge stronger than competitors.

92% Efficacy – Only 8% Ticket Escalation Saves You Time and Money

Just like a good vaccine, US Cloud is able to knock out well over 90% of those nasty Microsoft support tickets submitted by our business and enterprise customers.

Ultimately, US Cloud saves your IT team time, your procurement team money, and gives your Microsoft technology users a better experience. If you want herd immunity from year over year Microsoft support cost increases, Talk to an Expert with US Cloud or download the Gartner report to see why they recommend us over MSFT Unified.

Booster Shot – Rapid Response and Critical Escalation Available

And for those businesses or enterprises that need an even higher level of care, US Cloud has a priority routing option that includes Rapid Response and Critical Escalation.

Rapid Response offers a guaranteed 30-minute response SLA by senior Premier Support engineer. Critical Escalation offers expedited Microsoft access for critical cases 24/7.

Microsoft Premier Support – Pay Monthly, Not All Up Front

MICROSOFT PREMIER SUPPORT – PAY MONTHLY, NOT ALL UP FRONTMicrosoft Premier Support - Pay Monthly at US Cloud

Microsoft Premier Support is needed by many businesses, but some simply can’t afford to pay Microsoft the $25,000 entry cost all up front.
US Cloud’s Gartner recommended MSFT Premier Support replacement has a lower entry cost and now offers cash-saving monthly payments.

“Robert Perez, the US Cloud Global SVP of Sales gets all the credit for this wonderful idea.  The business community is really suffering and while we’re saving companies money, we were still asking them to write a big check up front.  This option makes US Cloud a real no brainer for anyone who needs great Microsoft support while being fiscally responsible.”

Robert E. LaMear IV - CEO, US CLOUDRobert E. LaMear IV, CEO, US CLOUD

Lower Entry Point than Microsoft

Microsoft’s Premier (Unified) Support has a minimum cost of $25,000 per year. For some businesses, this is too high of a bar, particularly during a pandemic-induced recession.

According to Gartner’s latest report, US Cloud is the only alternative that fully replaces Microsoft support at significant savings. US Cloud Premier Support starts at $15,000 per year or 40% less than MSFT.

MSFT Support Paid Monthly

MSFT Premier (Unified) Support - Pay Month to MonthUS Cloud received many inquiries from both businesses and enterprises as to the availability of billing for Premier Support monthly, instead of all up front. As the leader in Microsoft support serving our clients both from a service and fiscal aspect, we are excited to announce that monthly payments are now available.

This makes our lower entry point of $15,000 per year even more attractive when billed monthly at just $1,375. If you rely on Microsoft products to run your business, you can now, more than ever, afford expert Microsoft support.

Monthly Support Payments Align to MSFT Cloud Services

Some organizations pay for Office 365, Azure and Dynamics on a monthly basis. Wouldn’t it be nice if the support services for those MSFT products billed on the same cycle? SaaS products billing monthly is the norm, not the exception.

And now US Cloud offers Microsoft support month-to-month to better align with your Microsoft Cloud Services and other SaaS products and services. You’re welcome ;)

Conserve Your Cash to Survive and Then Thrive

Businesses and enterprises of all sizes are cutting budgets and furloughing staff due to the Covid19 pandemic falloff. Conserving operating cash is the number 1 focus of most organizations during the crisis. Pre-paying an entire year for Microsoft support is simply a non-starter for some. They need the support service but cutting a check for 12 months of future service is a hard pill for the CFO or Controller to swallow.

Microsoft Premier Support - Paid Monthly at US Cloud

US Cloud now allows you to cut your Microsoft support bill in half while keeping your cash and pay for Microsoft Premier (Unified) support on a monthly basis. US Cloud’s 30-50% discount and cash-saving payment tactic may even allow you to emerge from the crisis ahead of competitors.

Businesses Can Once Again Afford Microsoft Premier Support

BUSINESSES CAN ONCE AGAIN AFFORD MICROSOFT PREMIER SUPPORT

In 2019 and 2020 more than 30% of all Microsoft Premier Support customers have dropped the service each year.

This is about 25,000 Microsoft business customers who a) have moved to another platform like Google b) think Premier is too expensive c) rely on a local MSP d) are buying incidents via Microsoft Professional

The minimum spend for Microsoft Premier (now Unified) Support is $25,000 per year. For many small businesses that rely on Microsoft products to run their business, MSFT Premier Support has become cost-prohibitive and they simply can’t justify the price.

“Many former MSFT Premier Support customers are now suffering from extended wait times of outsourced support via Microsoft pay per incidents or the limited Microsoft expertise of their local Managed Service Provider (MSP).  However, there is an affordable alternative, US Cloud.”

Robert E. LaMear IV - CEO, US CLOUDRobert E. LaMear IV, CEO, US CLOUD

Microsoft Pay Per Incident Not Working

Businesses who can’t afford the $25k minimum for Microsoft Premier are left with seemingly few choices. Many choose to go it alone relying on their typically 1-3 man IT team to augment their knowledge with Microsoft Pay Per Incidents, also known as Microsoft Professional Support. Unfortunately, this is lowest tier of MSFT paid support and does NOT cover any cloud services such as Office 365, Azure, Dynamics 365, or Teams. Businesses using Pay Per Incident often report frustration in initial response time, quality of engineers (mostly outsourced overseas) handling the incident, and time to resolution often surpassing 30 days.

Local MSPs Lack Microsoft Expertise

Many businesses are already working with a local Managed Service Provider (MSP) for desktop support and backup services. Once a company makes their decision to drop Microsoft Premier Support they naturally look to their MSP to carry the load. Unfortunately, most MSPs don’t have the wide and deep Microsoft expertise to support 25+ Microsoft products spread across on-premise and Cloud platforms. Let alone the ability to quickly escalate to MSFT during a critical incident and have it resolved in hours as opposed to days.

MSFT Support Made AffordableMicrosoft Premier Support Made Affordable

There are two problems with Microsoft Premier (Unified) Support according to small and medium business (SMB) IT leaders. First, the $25,000 entry point is not attractive because of its diminishing quality and responsiveness.

Second, pre-paying the entire amount upfront during an economic downturn is a non-starter. They would all prefer a month-to-month payment similar to their MSP or Office 365 bill.

Go US Cloud to Keep Your Cash

Go US Cloud Premier Support to Save Your Business CashUS Cloud addresses both financial issues for SMB customers. First, with a significantly lower entry point of $15,000 compared to Microsoft’s $25,000. But more importantly, by allowing SMB customers to finance the service and pay month-to-month.

For example, the entry-level $15k Premier Support would only be $1,375 per month for 12 months. This allows businesses to keep their cash and have 24/7 access to the same enterprise-grade Microsoft support at US Cloud that Siemens, Quest Diagnostics and the US State Department have come to rely on.

The Growing Cost of Microsoft Premier/Unified Support

THE GROWING COST OF MICROSOFT PREMIER/UNIFIED SUPPORT

Microsoft Premier / Unified Support Costs Growing Year Over Year

Microsoft Premier/Unified Support Costs Growing Year Over Year 2021 – 2030

It’s important to understand why the cost increases are building year over year, why SA discounts are disappearing and how you can cut your MSFT support costs by 30-50% to emerge from the crisis stronger than competitors.

Microsoft Premier/Unified Support Costs Building Year over Year

The number one metric being tracked at Microsoft for all business and enterprise customers is cloud consumption. If you are a Microsoft customer, all paths lead to Cloud and you are most likely partially down that path via Office 365, Azure or Dynamics (Microsoft Cloud Services).

As a quick refresher, your Microsoft Premier/Unified support cost is directly related to your Microsoft Cloud spend. So as your Microsoft Cloud Services consumption increases, so to does your Microsoft Support cost.

  • Unified Support Performance Plan – $175k minimum.
  • Charged as a percentage of your spending: (typically) Server 12%, User 10%, Cloud 12%

MSFT Ends 2020 Covid Extensions for Premier Renewals and Unified Transitions

Microsoft Suppor Renewal - Covid Financial Relief

In June 2020, US Cloud saw many organizations given Premier Support extensions (same rate, same service) by Microsoft due to the pandemic. We commend Microsoft for the financial assistance during the turbulent summer.

However, the tides seem to be changing as multiple US Cloud customers have reported hard pushes by MSFT in Q4 2020 to renew Premier early or get moved to Unified’s higher priced model by calendar year-end.

2021-2023 Unified Pricing Forecast – 63% Cost Increase

With an average 50% transition cost to Unified in 2021 + 7% YOY Unified cost increases in year 2022 and 2023, enterprises can expect a 21% increase per year, over the next 3 years for Microsoft Unified support.

2021-2025, 5 Year Microsoft Enterprise Agreement (EA) Renewal Tied to Support

Let’s look at an enterprise with a 2021, 5-year Microsoft Enterprise Agreement (EA) renewal who is considering Azure for production Cloud loads.

Year 5 – 2024-25 – EA renewal

Year 4 – 2023-24 – Enterprise-wide Azure migration completed

Year 3 – 2022-23 – Cloud-ready apps migrated to Azure

Year 2 – 2021-22 – Azure pilot program

Year 1 – 2020-21 – IT budget frozen due to Covid

The above enterprise may see an uptick in the EA and Unified Support cost renewal in 2025 due to the increased Azure consumption, but the lookback baseline only covers roughly half of the prior Enterprise Agreement. The second 5-year Enterprise Agreement renewal in 2030 may see yet another price increase as the full weight of Azure consumption hits both the EA and Unified Support bills.

Software Assurance (SA) Credits for Microsoft Support

Microsoft Premier (Unified) Support Renewal Cost

One reason enterprises are being hit with steep Microsoft Support cost increases at renewal is that they have used all their available Microsoft discounts to keep costs down while transitioning to the new Unified model from Premier.

More specifically, all possible Software Assurance (SA) credits have been applied and are no longer available. See below for more details on the credits and how they are typically applied to your Unified Support bill.

Why aren’t there any more Microsoft Support discounts available?

Many Premier customers may see cost increases somewhere between 30-50%when switching to Unified and as a result, SA credits are sometimes rolled into the first year of Unified to offset the cost increase.

In the past, SA credits were spread across the life of an EA – typically 3 or 5 years. So you would take 1/3 or 1/5 of your SA credits each year. Unfortunately, many organizations have burned all their discounts in the transition year to Unified and have no further discounts available until their EA renews again.

Doubling Down on Digital Transformation with Microsoft

We’ve seen analysts (i.e., Gartner, IBRS and Directions on Microsoft) recommending that enterprises double down on their digital transformation during the Covid19 epidemic to emerge as a leaner, more efficient organization.

A good portion of digital transformation is moving to Cloud based services – SaaS, PaaS, etc.- and, we remember the benefits of Cloud: scalability, CapEx to OpEx shift, and efficiency. If you’re reading this, the Microsoft stack is important to your enterprise and your CTO is marching you down the digital transformation road towards “Oz,”aka Office 365, Azure and Dynamics. Don’t be surprised if your cadence picks up in 2021 to a hastened beat of the drum.

Optimize MSFT Support Costs Now to Emerge as a Winner From the Current Crisis

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.

US Cloud rate lock guarantees the savings over time allowing you to emerge from the 2020 crisis with either fiscal or innovative victories in hand, turning Covid lemons into lemonade and gaining greater control of your Microsoft Support costs.

Microsoft Premium Support – Keeps Your Business Running

MICROSOFT PREMIUM SUPPORT

Microsoft Premium SupportToday, most businesses rely on Microsoft technologies to keep their business running. Those organizations have chosen to pay the Microsoft premium over an open source software alternative. As their Microsoft portfolio evolves, a mixture of on-premises and Office 365 / Azure is creating a complex hybrid Microsoft environment with lots of variables. Microsoft technology availability at the business is critical. Fast troubleshooting and professional Microsoft support for all their technologies has never been more important or challenging – as IT teams continue to shrink in headcount and are tasked to leverage cutting-edge tech like machine learning and artificial intelligence to do more with less.

Organizations with their own IT team are looking to escalate Microsoft incidents they can’t resolve themselves. Smaller businesses without dedicated IT teams are looking for a partner to take on all their Microsoft support. Many organizations have selected Microsoft Premium Support Services from US Cloud. Let’s look at the available services and see which US Cloud Microsoft Premium Support is right for you.

Microsoft Professional Support

Microsoft Professional Support from US Cloud provides a fast and affordable means for smaller organizations to stand up a 24/7 Microsoft support team. With just a 25 hour purchase (hours never expire), the organization retains US Cloud allowing the business to reach out to the US Cloud Pro Support team 24/7. Even better, our initial response time is guaranteed at 30 minutes or less.

US Cloud Pro Support is delivered by the same US citizen team that delivers our enterprise-grade Premier Support Service serving the Fortune 500 and Global 2000 enterprise community. We support the underserved SMB Microsoft community by giving them a smaller bite of the premium support apple. US Cloud Pro Support will handle severity 1-4 incidents and time to resolution is averaging 17 days as opposed to 63+ days with Microsoft Professional Support.

Additional benefits of Microsoft Professional Support at US Cloud include cross-platform support for AWS, VMware and Cisco technologies. Advanced support services include onsite support (+T&E), root cause analysis, and products out of support lifecycle (end of life). US Cloud’s goal is enterprise-grade Microsoft support for any size business that values ultra-responsive expert support delivered by screened US citizens.

Microsoft Premier (Unified) Support

Larger organizations with their own IT team may have used Microsoft Premier Support Services in the past. MSFT Premier is now Unified Support and many businesses are seeing cost increases of 50% or more. As a result, many businesses are cutting their Microsoft Unified cost in half by switching to US Cloud Premier Support.

SHOULD I CHOOSE PRO OR PREMIER (UNIFIED)?

Assuming you have the IT budget to go either route for Microsoft premium support, the biggest differences between the two Microsoft support programs are a Technical Account Manager (TAM), better hourly support rates and Designated Support Engineers (DSE).

Technical Account Manager (TAM)

A TAM delivers a higher level of Microsoft support by interfacing between your internal IT team and the US Cloud Premier Support team.

This role is all about service delivery management. As the conduit between your organization and our global support resources, the TAM will manage your Microsoft technology stack via a range of activities related to improving the operational health of your IT. The value the Technical Account Manager brings to Premier Support is increased customer satisfaction, reduced support costs, and the awareness needed around Microsoft product improvements.

As a trusted adviser, the TAM ensures clients are making the most of their Microsoft technology by creating a tailored service delivery plan to drive business value from the client’s IT investments, and improve operational stability and performance. The TAM will also manage the delivery and follow-up of proactive services outlined in the service delivery plan as well as effectively communicate the realized value of delivered services through Service Reviews with the client.

Better Hourly Support Rates

Better hourly support rates are attainable by 2 vehicles. First, by moving up from a lower plan to a higher Premier Support Plan. The base plan is Core, the middle plan is Advanced, and the top plan is Performance. Each plan includes more support hours and a better hourly support rate.

The second means to a better hourly support rate is committing to US Cloud Premier Support for multiple years. For example, 5,000 PRS hours per year, for 5 years. This locks in your organization’s support savings over time.

Dedicated Support Engineers (DSE)

Dedicated Support Engineers keep your enterprise running at maximum performance with dedicated support for your core Microsoft technologies.

Do you have recurring problems with your Microsoft technology, but no time to investigate and identify the root cause? Are staff changes, deployments or upgrades of newer technologies impacting your internal IT resources and exposing gaps in your knowledgebase?

DSEs help you achieve long-term IT success by helping to ensure successful deployments, planning for supportability and helping to reduce mission-critical downtime. Dedicated Support Engineering (DSE) can offer you the expertise you need to get off the break/fix merry-go-round and proactively prevent problems so they don’t occur. Identify the root cause of recurring problems and address them so they don’t reoccur, and give your IT staff the expert training they need to get the most from your Microsoft investment.

Microsoft Business Support – Pro or Premier (Unified)?

MICROSOFT SUPPORT FOR BUSINESSES

Microsoft Business SupportToday, the majority of businesses worldwide rely on Microsoft technologies to keep their business running. A mixture of on-premises and Cloud technologies is creating a complex hybrid Microsoft environment with lots of moving parts. Downtime is costly. Rapid troubleshooting and professional support of Microsoft business technologies has never been more important or challenging – as IT teams team are stretched to their breaking points and asked to do more with less.

Businesses with their own IT team are looking to escalate Microsoft problems they can’t fix themselves. Smaller businesses without dedicated IT teams are looking to outsource all of their Microsoft support. Many organizations have selected Microsoft Support Services from US Cloud. Let’s look at the available services and see which US Cloud Microsoft Support Service is right for your business.

Microsoft Professional Support

Microsoft Professional Support from US Cloud provides a fast and affordable means for smaller organizations to stand up a 24/7 Microsoft support team. With just a 25 hour purchase (hours never expire), the organization retains US Cloud allowing the business to reach out to the US Cloud Pro Support team 24/7. Even better, our initial response time is guaranteed at 30 minutes or the ticket is free.

US Cloud Pro Support is delivered by the same US citizen team that delivers our enterprise-grade Premier Support Service serving the Fortune 500 and Global 2000 large business community. We support the underserved SMB Microsoft community by giving them a smaller bite of the apple. US Cloud Pro Support will handle severity 1-4 incidents and time to resolution is averaging 17 days as opposed to 63+ days with Microsoft Professional Support.

Additional benefits of Microsoft Professional Support at US Cloud include cross-platform support for AWS, VMware and Cisco technologies. Advanced support services include onsite support (+T&E), root cause analysis, and products out of support lifecycle (end of life). US Cloud’s goal is enterprise-grade Microsoft support for any size business that values ultra-responsive expert support delivered by screened US citizens.

Microsoft Premier (Unified) Support

Larger organizations with their own IT team may have used Microsoft Premier Support Services in the past. MSFT Premier is now Unified Support and many businesses are seeing cost increases of 50% or more. As a result, many businesses are cutting their Microsoft Unified cost in half by switching to US Cloud Premier Support.

SHOULD I CHOOSE PRO OR PREMIER (UNIFIED)?

Assuming you have the IT budget to go either route, the biggest differences between the two Microsoft support programs are a Technical Account Manager (TAM), better hourly support rates and Designated Support Engineers (DSE).

Technical Account Manager (TAM)

A TAM delivers a higher level of Microsoft support by interfacing between your internal IT team and the US Cloud Premier Support team.

This role is all about service delivery management. As the conduit between your organization and our global support resources, the TAM will manage your Microsoft technology stack via a range of activities related to improving the operational health of your IT. The value the Technical Account Manager brings to Premier Support is increased customer satisfaction, reduced support costs, and the awareness needed around Microsoft product improvements.

As a trusted adviser, the TAM ensures clients are making the most of their Microsoft technology by creating a tailored service delivery plan to drive business value from the client’s IT investments, and improve operational stability and performance. The TAM will also manage the delivery and follow-up of proactive services outlined in the service delivery plan as well as effectively communicate the realized value of delivered services through Service Reviews with the client.

Better Hourly Support Rates

Better hourly support rates are attainable by 2 vehicles. First, by moving up from a lower plan to a higher Premier Support Plan. The base plan is Core, the middle plan is Advanced, and the top plan is Performance. Each plan includes more support hours and a better hourly support rate.

The second means to a better hourly support rate is committing to US Cloud Premier Support for multiple years. For example, 5,000 PRS hours per year, for 5 years. This locks in your organization’s support savings over time.

Dedicated Support Engineers (DSE)

Dedicated Support Engineers keep your enterprise running at maximum performance with dedicated support for your core Microsoft technologies.

Do you have recurring problems with your Microsoft technology, but no time to investigate and identify the root cause? Are staff changes, deployments or upgrades of newer technologies impacting your internal IT resources and exposing gaps in your knowledgebase?

DSEs help you achieve long-term IT success by helping to ensure successful deployments, planning for supportability and helping to reduce mission-critical downtime. Dedicated Support Engineering (DSE) can offer you the expertise you need to get off the break/fix merry-go-round and proactively prevent problems so they don’t occur. Identify the root cause of recurring problems and address them so they don’t reoccur, and give your IT staff the expert training they need to get the most from your Microsoft investment.

It Pays to Know Your A, B, C Severity Levels of Microsoft Unified Support

It Pays to Know Your A, B, C Severity Levels of Microsoft Unified Support

Microsoft Unified Support Severity Levels

You can check out our page breaking down the Unified Support differences, but one area we could not foresee was how the transition would impact Microsoft’s ability to respond to an increase in support requests.

If your enterprise has been integrated into Microsoft’s new Unified Support program, which transitioned away from Premier starting in July 2018, you’re well aware that there are three tiers to Microsoft Unified Support: There are unlimited reactive support hours and there are three levels – Core, Advanced, Performance – which have a minimum contract size of $25,000, $50,000, and $175,000, and pricing based on a percentage of Office 365 annual costs, client software annual costs, other software and online annual costs.

It was clear that Unified Support Core and Advanced tiers would offer 2x to 4x slower responses versus Microsoft Premier Support: Previous wait times were 1 hour for “catastrophic” issues and 2 hours for standard tickets. New Unified Support contracts now commit to 1 hour for “critical” / 8 hours standard for Core and 1 hour “critical” / 4 hours standard for Advanced. Those at the highest tier, Performance, saw initial response time service level agreements (SLAs) drop from one hour to 30 minutes for “critical” cases only, while the standard ticket wait times doubled to 4 hours.

With an unlimited amount of support tickets you could submit without worrying about your support, many companies took a wait-and-see approach to gauge how Microsoft would keep up to demand.

Severity Levels and Your Situation

In our conversations with companies who have purchased Microsoft Unified Support, many Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) that purchased Unified Core or Advanced Support are seeing slower response times than promised. When you have a support issue, you submit your ticket into Microsoft’s Unified Portal. When you do this, you must identify the level of severity for your issue: A, B or C. Here’s a table outlining Microsoft’s definition of each level of severity:

Severity Level Your Situation
Severity A Critical Business Impact – your business has experienced a significant loss or degradation of services, requiring immediate attention.
Severity B Moderate Business Impact – you have a loss or degradation of services, but your organization can still function.
Severity C Minimum Business Impact – you have an issue, but it has a small impact on your business.

Many Microsoft Unified Support Customers Are Struggling

Many Microsoft Unified Support customers we speak with are struggling to get responses from Microsoft when they are putting in support tickets as Severity B or Severity C.

If you haven’t ensured you have aggressive SLAs that are financially backed in your support contract, you may be forced to wait if you aren’t paying top dollar for the highest level of Unified Support. Since the Advanced tier of Unified Support doesn’t make business sense for most SMEs, they are trying to work around the issue by submitting all tickets as Severity A.

As Microsoft continues its push to onboard customers onto Office 365 and Azure, the companies we’re speaking with are worried this will only continue to get worse, with demand outpacing available support. At US Cloud, we’re also seeing that Office 365 and Azure are the top support topics for our Microsoft enterprise support services customers – we are able to work with enterprises of all sizes to ensure they are maximizing the potential of their investments in Microsoft software and services.

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.

Microsoft Unified Support Renewal Cost Sky Rockets

Microsoft Unified Support Renewal Cost Sky RocketsOrganizations who have transitioned from Microsoft Premier Support to the new Unified model are now finding themselves faced with significant cost increases at their Unified Support renewal.

It’s important to understand why the cost increase is hitting hard and why the increases will continue into the near future.

Software Assurance Credits for Microsoft Unified Support

The first reason enterprises are being hit with steep Unified Support cost increases at renewal is that they have used all their available Microsoft discounts to keep costs down while transitioning to the new Unified model from Premier. More specifically, all possible Software Assurance (SA) credits have been applied and are no longer available. See below for more details on the credits and how they were applied to your Unified Support bill.

Why aren’t there any more Microsoft Support discounts available?

Microsoft Enterprise Sales teams knew that most Premier customers would see costs increases somewhere between 30-60% and as result, they creatively rolled all SA credits into the first year of Unified to offset the cost increase. In the past, SA credits were spread across the life of an Enterprise Agreement (EA) – typically 3 or 5 years. So you would take 1/3 or 1/5 of your SA credits each year. Unfortunately, many organizations have burned all their discounts in the transition year to Unified and have no further discounts available until their EA renews again.

The second important factor of sky rocketing Unified Support renewal costs is that renewals will continue to increase for the next 3-8 years for most Microsoft enterprise customers. The reason is simple. Unified Support is based on the amount of Cloud services you are consuming at Microsoft. And that consumption is spread across the life of your EA.

2019, 5 Year Microsoft Enterprise Agreement (EA) Renewal Tied to Unified Support

Let’s look at an enterprise with a 2019, 5-year Microsoft Enterprise Agreement (EA) renewal who has recently rolled out Office 365 to its user base.

Year 5 – 2018-19

Year 4 – 2017-18

Year 3 – 2016-17 – Office 365 rollout to entire enterprise

Year 2 – 2015-16 – Office 365 pilot program

Year 1 – 2014-15

The above enterprise will see a big uptick in the Unified Support cost renewal in 2019 due to the increased Office 365 subscription, but the lookback baseline only affected roughly half of the prior Enterprise Agreement. The second 5-year Enterprise Agreement renewal in 2024 will see yet another Unified Support uptick as the baseline now covers all 5 years of Office 365 consumption.

2024, 5 Year Microsoft Enterprise Agreement (EA) Renewal Tied to Unified Support

Let’s look at the same enterprise with their 2024, 5-year Microsoft Enterprise Agreement (EA) renewal who has recently rolled out Azure for its production IT infrastructure needs.

As a reminder, they have successful rolled out Office 365 to all its users in 2016 and will see the full weight of its Office 365 consumption in its EA and Unified Support cost increase in 2024.

Year 5 – 2023-24

Year 4 – 2022-23

Year 3 – 2021-22 – Azure rollout to enterprise production

Year 2 – 2020-21 – Azure pilot program

Year 1 – 2019-20

With the addition of Azure, the above enterprise will see another increase in their EA/Unified Support renewal in 2024 and yet another increase in 2029 as they see the full weight of their Azure consumption hit both their EA and Unified Support bills.

Conversion of Software Assurance 24×7 Problem Resolution Support Incidents to Premier (Unified) Support Services

With the exception of MPSA, Customers may convert SA 24×7 Problem Resolution Support Incidents (SA PRS Incidents, or “SAB”) to Unified Support, Premier Problem Resolution Support (PRS) hours or Dedicated Support Engineer (DSE) hours (applicable for reactive support activities only).

These services are for use consistent with their Premier Service or Unified Support plan at the time of transfer. The convers ion is based on a local rate calculation that will be provided by their Premier Account Team. Customers may be required to purchase additional Support Account Management hours before converting SA PRS incidents. SA PRS incidents that are converted to Premier are considered Premier Problem Resolution Support hours and are subject to the Premier Services Description. Once converted, incidents cannot be returned to Customer’s SA allowance.

Additional Business Provisions for Microsoft SA Spend and Unified Support Renewals

SA spend may not be combined across Select or Enterprise enrollments, Select Plus registrations, Purchasing Accounts, or Open Value Agreements to qualify for additional awards. Spending within each enrollment, agreement, or Purchasing Accounts will be used to determine the award for that enrollment, agreement, or Purchasing Accounts.

Reduction of SA Spend as a result of returns and other billing adjustments, where allowed, may result in the loss of Support eligibility or Phone incident awards during the present or future award periods.

As you approach your Unified renewal with Microsoft, here’s your game plan:

  1. Microsoft Unified Support Renewal CostUnderstand what is offered in each tier of Microsoft Unified Support and determine if it would meet your specific needs. US Cloud has broken down each level of Microsoft Unified Support service for you to help get you started.
  2. Follow our eight Microsoft enterprise negotiation tips leading up to and during your conversation with your Microsoft account manager. The shift to Microsoft Unified Support has also changed the way Microsoft approaches renewal conversations with you. Follow our Microsoft enterprise renewal tips now so you don’t get left behind.
  3. Look outside Microsoft for opinions on pricing and services. You don’t have to go it alone. There are a variety of ways to license/subscribe to Microsoft’s offerings and get support. Bring in unbiased expertise to assist you our sourcing team with vetting the recommendations and helping structure Enterprise Agreements (EAs), Software Agreements (SAs), and Support agreements that drive lower spend and higher utilization.

US Cloud can help you prepare for your Unified Support, EA and SA renewal conversations as well as provide you alternatives to Microsoft’s ever-increasing price tag for its support services. Make sure they can bring a high level of quality you need for your business-critical support, such as:

  • Hours that never expire – Your support hours never expire with US Cloud, and since you’re only paying for the support you need, it allows you to make a smarter financial decision for your business without sacrificing quality.
  • Billing on your terms – US Cloud offers subscription billing and installment options that meet your specific needs.
  • 5x faster response – Microsoft Unified 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 – US Cloud 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.
  • Deep expertise in your specific business needs – Dedicated Technical Account Managers and Designated Service Engineers at US Cloud mean we quickly develop a robust understanding of your business and IT environment. You can depend on us to handle your specific issues the moment you have them instead of wondering if the right person will be available to take your inquiry and rectify your support inquiry.
  • USA-based support – You will never be outsourced to a call center overseas. All US Cloud staff are located in St. Louis, Missouri, and meet the right levels of clearance for U.S. public sector entities.
  • 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.

6 Reasons to Get Microsoft Premier Support for Developers from US Cloud

Microsoft Premier Support for Developers - US CloudMicrosoft Premier DevOps Support from US Cloud

Emerging megatrends, such as mobility and cloud technology, are increasing the demand for new application and service infrastructures. This changing technology landscape is creating new challenges for developers in how they build, deploy, and manage solutions. Poor integration with older technology and applications, slow problem resolution, and a lack of overall support are increasing risks and costs, impacting the pace of innovation.

According to recent industry reports, there is a rapidly developing distributed IT landscape that is making development even more difficult for IT teams to deliver successful development operations: 70% of CIOs see mobile as the most disruptive technology over the next decade, 88% of companies that use cloud computing save money, and virtually all information workers (95%) report they use at least one of their own self-purchased devices for work.

DevOps Must Strike the Balance Between Reactive and Proactive Support

Amidst this environment where IT teams are being asked to do more with less resources, and workers are bringing all kinds of devices into the enterprise landscape, how can your DevOps keep up? IT teams must strike the right balance between reactive and proactive support:

  • Reactive Support – Also known as Problem Resolution Support, you need a consistent line into a trusted provider to open support cases when you run into any issues with your Microsoft software and services.
  • Proactive Support – Just as you would turn to a trusted resource to help alleviate any support issues, having the ability to receive training and have advisory consulting engagements to help you ace best practice guidance, code reviews, migration assessments, and more will help you stay ahead of the disruptive technology trends we’ve already discussed.

Microsoft Premier Support for Developers Comes at a Higher Cost

Companies with Microsoft Enterprise Agreements or Software Agreements have an option to utilize Microsoft’s premier support for developers. Premier Support for Developers empowers developers and enterprises to plan, build, deploy and maintain high quality solutions. When you purchase a Premier Support for Developers contract from Microsoft, an Application Development Manager (ADM) is assigned. He or she will guide you to use the contract in an efficient way that will benefit your developers and the business. Premier Support for Developers and your ADM does not replace a development team – instead, it complements your team and helps with best practice guidance, products and technology roadmaps, and future proofing your solutions. Your ADM becomes a trusted advisor and a persistent point of contact into Microsoft with the technical expertise to understand your development needs, pain points, and recommend services that are right for you.

While Microsoft offers this capability, is it the right one for you? Let’s dive deeper, particularly as reports from the field confirm that there are significant price increases for Microsoft Unified (formerly Premier) Support. As companies are forced to transition into the Unified model in 2018 and 2019, support costs are rising 50% year-over-year (or more) for a large portion of the Premier Support base. Examples of increases even higher are becoming common, with many clients reporting Microsoft Support price inflation of over 60% — and some cases mushrooming to over 100% and beyond.

Six Reasons to Get Microsoft DevOps Support from US Cloud

Microsoft Premier DevOps Support - US CloudMicrosoft Premier Support for Developers from US Cloud works with you to strike the balance between reactive and proactive support, and will also provide you with a dedicated Application Development Manager. Look to US Cloud for reactive support such as code-related break fixes for all levels of severity. We also look to your future by offering proactive support such as validating your architecture, best practices guidance, code reviews, migration assessments, and training.

Here are six other advantages to US Cloud’s Microsoft Premier Support for DevOps:

  1. 30-60% cost savings: Get a higher level of developer support at a fraction of the cost you will be expected to pay directly through Microsoft.
  2. 5x faster response to reactive issues: US Cloud responds to your inquiries in 6 minutes, 5 times faster than the highest level of support offered by Microsoft.
  3. 100% US Citizen support: Whether you are private or public sector, US Cloud only employs screened US citizens and is ITAR/DFARS compliant – your inquiries will never be outsourced overseas.
  4. Hours that never expire: Don’t worry about whether or not you’ve used your allotment of hours or will have to burn hours at the end of the year. Pay for the right amount of support you need.
  5. 20+ years of Microsoft expertise in house: US Cloud is a Microsoft Certified Partner and Cloud Solution Provider, with more than 25 Microsoft certifications plus Cisco and VMware. We have the knowledge in house to optimize your Microsoft offerings with cloud consults, roadmaps, or risk assessments.

Cross Platform expertise: Your colleagues aren’t all-in on Microsoft, and likely your businesses’ IT landscapes aren’t 100% Microsoft, either. Get comprehensive support across all your technology platforms, including Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and Amazon AWS. This way, you can create solutions that will work across all environments, not just Microsoft’s.

Microsoft Premier Support for Developers from US Cloud Reactive Developer Support Includes Code Related Break-Fix for All Severities. Proactive Support Includes Validating Architecture, Best Practices Guidance, Code Reviews, Migration Assessments and Training.
Microsoft Premier and Unified Support Alternative - US Cloud

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Save 30-50% with US Cloud

Enterprises worldwide are replacing Microsoft with US Cloud to save 30-50% on support costs.

Enjoy ultra-responsive, 24/7 fanatical global support from domestic US teams while freeing up funds to invest in innovation, create competitive advantage, and drive growth.