This is the question being asked by thousands of Microsoft Premier Support customers across the globe transitioning to Unified Support.
These same organizations are now finding themselves burdened with dramatic Microsoft support cost increases and no relief in sight.
Microsoft Sells Unified as Mandatory
Most MS reps selling Unified Support will tell you that Unified is necessary because the Microsoft support that’s included with your Enterprise Agreement (EA) is only baseline support. As a result, you need Unified to provide better support with faster response times – at a premium. This could be interpreted as triple dipping the Microsoft support customer.
1) $ I already pay for basic support services with my Microsoft EA agreement.
2) $$ I purchased Premier Support from Microsoft to cover technologies I use.
3) $$$ I can now purchase Unified Support from Microsoft, which covers technologies I don’t use, with an industry-average cost increase of 50% above my Premier Support cost.
Every Business Needs a Parachute
Microsoft Unified Support isn’t mandatory, but every pilot needs a parachute. At first blush, enterprises seem to have only two choices. Either subscribe to vendor support services or build out their own team to handle all support except bug fixes and security updates. But according to research groups Gartner and IBRS, there are viable third-party alternatives to Microsoft.
Microsoft Unified Support sales representatives are quick to point out that any business relying on Microsoft technologies needs the support safety net of the new Unified model. It could allow you to lean out your own support staff and simply open as many support tickets with Microsoft as needed.
However, it’s important to understand why the Unified model was created in the first place. Unified Support was created in response to a study done for Microsoft Services that showed how Microsoft was underperforming relative to its peers, Salesforce, Oracle and SAP. In effect, Microsoft Services needed to increase their support margins across their medium and large enterprise client base to compete with other increasingly profitable lines of business such as Microsoft Cloud Services.
This leaves Microsoft-centric organizations with two obvious options. Pay the more expensive Unified support model or staff up internally to support an increasingly complex Microsoft technology landscape.
Year-over-year Cost Increases
As of February 2020 all Software Assurance Benefit (SAB) credits are being retired per Microsoft. These SAB credits were used to help Premier Support customers “softly” transition to Unified. With the SAB credits now removed, organizations using Microsoft Unified Support are feeling the full weight of Unified.
In addition, a sleeping giant is stirring that most organizations are overlooking. Microsoft Cloud consumption. This is the number 1 performance metric at Microsoft. It is also a key variable in your Unified cost metric. As you consume more cloud services from Microsoft, your Unified Support costs increase. With Microsoft’s mantra to increase your cloud consumption year over year, there is an excellent chance your Unified Support costs will also increase year over year.
Microsoft Premier Support wasn’t perfect but the one thing it did well was it allowed organizations to buy the amount of support it actually needed to operate. This also meant that there was support cost consistency in the budgets from year to year. This is no longer the case with MSFT Unified. You cannot buy only what you need and cost predictability from one year to the next is challenging.
CIOs Mandated to Innovate
Although many CIOs have the mandate to innovate, only a lucky few get new budget and staff to deliver and support the innovation. Those that don’t must balance the challenge of resource allocation with the pressure of adhering to costly vendor support or seemingly risk losing vendor support.
Paying more for Microsoft support is not innovation. We recommend IT executives prioritize investments that create competitive advantage and drive growth for their enterprises.
Robert E. LaMear IV, CEO, US CLOUD
Unified Support is NOT Mandatory
So we’ve successfully established that Microsoft Unified Support is not mandatory. Enterprises have three possible courses of action:
1) Continue to subscribe to MSFT Unified Support and absorb the cost increases year over year.
2) Build up their own internal support team to adequately support severity 1-4 incidents across all the Microsoft technologies pertinent to their org.
3) Use a vetted third-party support provider and use the savings to innovate and grow their business.