Fact Checking Microsoft Unified - Tall Tales from Pinocchio
Microsoft Unified Support’s latest sales datasheet gets fact checked by Geppetto. Read the tall tale MS Unified tells about its #1 competitor, US Cloud. In The New Adventures of Pinocchio, Geppetto’s sole wish is to protect innocent enterprises. Can Pinocchio fact check US Cloud Microsoft Enterprise Support capabilities to prove himself trustworthy?
Audience: CIO and IT Executives | Sourcing, Procurement and Vendor Management | IT Software Asset Management
Pinocchio is the antagonist of the 2023 novel, The New Adventures of Pinocchio by Italian writer Impresa Supporto. Pinocchio, an animated puppet, is punished for each lie that he tells about US Cloud Microsoft Enterprise Support capabilities by undergoing further growth of his nose.
There are no restrictions on the length of Pinocchio’s nose. It grows as he tells lies and at one point grows so long that he cannot even get his nose “through the door of the room.” Only Geppetto’s revelation of facts about US Cloud’s ability to replace MS Unified/Support at half the cost will save Pinocchio.
Pinocchio claims enterprises would lose benefits, resources and services by replacing Microsoft Premier/Unified Support with another support alternative. Each claim is fact checked and rated on a scale of 1-4 with 4 being unable to get his nose through the door of the room.
Ch 1 - Ability to Escalate or Support On-Premise
No ability to escalate to our Product Groups if needed, root cause analysis, solution-specific engineer-led trainings, Developer Support, and Support for Mission Critical. Geppetto’s response: Can escalate to Microsoft Product Groups via Premier for Partner support contracts. Already supply Microsoft-specific engineer-led trainings, Developer Support, and Support for Mission Critical.
Rely on the third party to submit incidents 24×7 and provide status updates. Geppetto’s response: Correct. The 15% of total Microsoft Enterprise Support tickets that need to be escalated to Microsoft for code or tenant issues flow through Microsoft Certified Partners with updates being posted to Customer Portal in real time. The entire process is guaranteed by a financially backed SLA.
No support for on-premises licenses, which includes licenses running on Azure. Geppetto’s response: On-premise is our jam. We’re at least 25% faster resolving on-premise Microsoft technologies even if they’re running on Azure.
No direct interaction with Microsoft, unless the partner is involved.
Geppetto’s response: Correct. We only need MS 15% of the time, which saves our enterprise clients hundreds of thousands of dollars. Our automated escalations do take slightly longer than if you were direct with MS, but the 50% cost savings is worth it to most enterprises.
No case escalation to any Microsoft support teams.
Geppetto’s response: True 85% of the time, since 85% of tickets submitted don’t need escalation to any Microsoft support teams – we fix them ourselves, and faster by the way. And when we do escalate to MS, it’s via the fastest contract vehicle available to any enterprise globally.
Ch 2 - Dedicated Resources & Priority Routing
Loss of dedicated resources to help build your technology roadmap such as your dedicated Customer Success Account Manager and your Incident Manager.
Geppetto’s response: You actually lose resources by choosing Microsoft Premier/Unified since they have removed all Technical Account Managers (TAM) and replaced with less capable and lower paid Customer Success Account Managers (CSAM). As Microsoft releases TAMs, we are adding them to staff. We may have the one you loved! We have Triage/Incident Managers as well although you need them less, if you know what I mean.
No priority routing for critical case incidents and expediated response.
Geppetto’s response: Too much wood varnish for you Pinocchio. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. 15 minute initial response time guarantees expedited response for all ticket severities – enterprises effectively get “Rapid Response” or “Mission Critical” treatment gratis. And we have the industry’s only financially backed response time SLA. Critical case incidents are routed immediately to our most experienced Microsoft-certified engineers by technology impacted.
No access to as needed training for with technology adoption, security, and optimization.
Geppetto’s response: This is a mostly true statement. No access to Microsoft created training materials who’s creation is typically outsourced, ironically like their support. However, there is a plethora of quality Microsoft technology training materials available online as well as US Cloud expert-led sessions which we can customize to your enterprise’s specific needs. For further clarification, “as needed” does not designate quality of the materials or access to someone if you have questions.
Ch 3 - Products Groups, Extended Support & Security Updates
No proactive emails on security updates, software lifecycle or technical updates will be shared.
Geppetto’s response: Ummm okay, you may stop receiving proactive security emails directly from your CSAM or Unified Support but there are plenty of comprehensive security feeds available. We appreciate Krebs for his unfiltered fact checked reporting. And let’s not forget that anyone with a Microsoft login (read M365 license) can subscribe to the Microsoft Security Update notifications. Our TAMs cover software lifecycle issues in their cadence calls with enterprise clients and non-Microsoft resources are readily available. Directions on Microsoft is excellent. US Cloud provides our own Microsoft technical updates in real time via our Customer Portal and those with active Enterprise Agreements (EAs) can also continue to receive technical updates from Microsoft because the software sales team wants them using Microsoft software, not Google or Salesforce.
No access to Product Groups, Customer Advisory Boards, Early Adopter Programs, etc.
Geppetto’s response: Sorry to burst your bubble Pinocchio but you’re living in a bubble. Software sales make Microsoft go. If an enterprise has a large Enterprise Agreement (EA) and they need access to a particular product group, they will get it. US Cloud can also provide access (although a hair slower) via our Elite Microsoft Partner Network. If you want to join a customer advisory board at Microsoft, call your EA rep – they will get in, particularly if you anticipate a larger future spend in that MS technology based on your participation. We do not recommend early adopter programs at Microsoft. They have value only to MS. Your enterprise becomes the beta test. Contact us for introductions to CTOs who can share stories of lost productivity and years of frustration.
No support for products past Extended Support.
Geppetto’s response: Survey says, wrong. Enterprises can buy 3 years of Extended Security Updates (ESU) for products past the 5 years of mainstream and additional 5 years of extended support from Microsoft. That’s 13 years Pinocchio. And while not recommended by US Cloud, some enterprise clients do choose to keep systems beyond the 13 years understanding the risk of not having security updates. And we will work with them to support those mostly internal facing systems as best we can.
No proactive security updates will be provided for products.
Geppetto’s response: Poor Pinocchio. We can only assume the ogre gave you a concussion during your cameo appearance. We also question your choice of “proactive” since security updates are issued in arrears of the discovery of Microsoft product code vulnerabilities reported to the Microsoft Security Response Center (MSRC). Putting aside semantics for a beat, all properly licensed Microsoft products are entitled to receive security updates as they become available.
“Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight; I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish of truth tonight.” – Geppetto
No direct support coverage for cybersecurity incidents.
Geppetto’s response: Correct. Some cybersecurity experts would caution a CISO against using the same vendor for infrastructure as well as cybersecurity services. Be careful you know exactly what security services you are subscribing to such as: security risk assessment, incident response readiness, incident response, mitigation, and recovery. You do not need Microsoft Premier/Unified support for cybersecurity incidents. Any new or existing enterprise client can use the Incident Response Retainer to prepare for and respond to cyber attacks. And while on the topic of cybersecurity and support at Microsoft, let’s not forget about the large Microsoft support data breach in Dec 2019. 250 million customer support records from 2005 to 2019 were exposed on Azure. Exposed data included support logs, customer email addresses, IP addresses, geographical locations, descriptions of the customer service and support claims and cases, Microsoft support agent emails, case numbers and resolutions, and internal notes that had been marked as confidential, per Forbes. RCA was misconfigured security rules. It failed to mention that the industry standard of data-at-rest encryption would have at least rendered the data unusable. Who made the error was not rereleased but it seems likely that one of Microsoft’s v-dash offshore outsourcing support partners may have been to blame.
Ch 4 - Bug Fixes, Feature Preview & US Cloud Status
Loss of “front-of-the-line” service, along with exclusive invitations to preview new features (ahead of other customers).
Geppetto’s response: Womp, technically true but no real value. Ask any enterprise CIO if they want to be first to use a technology or new feature. Unless they are receiving compensation from the vendor, all will wait until v2 because their jobs depend on stabile code that is secure and has been battle-tested. If someone offers you a VIP pass to the front of the line, make sure it’s the right line and doesn’t fast-track your demise, RIP.
No advanced notification of roadmap and a bee-line to the actual engineers and developers who code the service.
Geppetto’s response: Not true and mostly true. Microsoft technology roadmap services are readily available from external sources such as Directions on Microsoft. We actually prefer the external sources to Microsoft since they have no bias and set realistic expectations for timelines and commercial viability. “Bee-line to product team who’s responsible for source code” is mostly accurate depending on your Microsoft spend. If you are a Fortune 50 (not a misprint) then your MS Enterprise Agreement (EA) spend is large enough that you will indeed have their ear and access. All other requested code changes are prioritized by three criteria at Microsoft: number of customers impacted (license seats/revenue), security risk, and reputational damage.
3rd party cannot provide access to Microsoft’s rich library of on-demand learning content, including webcasts, workshops, and virtual labs.
Geppetto’s response: Technically true although we and most of our clients question the value of the library. If your team does rely heavily on the learning content, clients with larger Azure, M365, or Microsoft Enterprise Agreements (EA) can demand access to MS on-demand training content. Keep in mind most of the same content is available online gratis and we produce our own webcasts and workshops as needed for our Microsoft Enterprise Support clients.
No bug fixes will be released for products beyond extended support.
Geppetto’s response: Pinocchio infers that if you stay with Microsoft Premier/Unified you will receive bug fixes past extended support which is false. Once mainstream and extended support (10 years from product release) end, Microsoft no longer provides bug fixes. However, at this stage in the software lifecycle, the code is also pretty darn stable. If you couple Extended Security Updates (additional 3 years; EOL now effectively 13 years from product release) with 50% Premier/Unified cost savings of third-party Microsoft support you can extend the lifespan of your Microsoft software and decrease your TCO by 23%.
If you selected US Cloud, please note that US Cloud is no longer a member of the Microsoft Partner Network, nor does US Cloud have any type of Partner support agreement with Microsoft. As a result, US Cloud’s support offerings are no longer backstopped by Microsoft’s proactive and ongoing support for our Partner network. Due to this reason, if asked, Microsoft would not be able to endorse or recommend any of US Cloud’s products or services.
Geppetto’s response: While Pinocchio’s statement about US Cloud is technically accurate and clearly upsets the Microsoft Unified Sales team, we feel that enterprises and even the Microsoft Enterprise Agreement sales team appreciate our efforts. 1) We don’t sell competing Salesforce, Google, or Amazon products like many Microsoft integrators such as Accenture and IBM. As a former Microsoft Certified Partner and Service Provider License Agreement (SPLA) cloud provider it’s interesting to note that Salesforce runs on Azure and both Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and Amazon Web Services (AWS) are MS Certified Partners providing Microsoft licensing via SPLA. 2) Ultimately we help keep customers on the Microsoft platform. We chose to stop being a certified Microsoft Partner to give us the freedom to act in the best interest of our enterprise clients. Our focus became to provide the best Microsoft Enterprise Support on the planet, not sell Microsoft licenses and provide average or sub-par support along with it. We don’t need a Microsoft Partner agreement to escalate issues to Microsoft. It’s a shame that Microsoft won’t endorse or recommend US Cloud support services since it’s more economical and faster. Doing what’s best for the client will remain the focus at US Cloud.
Ch 5 - Microsoft Relationship, Support Hours & Partners
Relationship with Partner only. Client will not have any relationship with Microsoft directly.
Geppetto’s response: Wrong. Our Microsoft Enterprise Support clients maintain their Enterprise Agreements (EA) and negotiate directly with Microsoft to license their software products. The EA team at Microsoft are the top revenue producing sales teams at the organization and have considerable leverage with other groups including MS Premier/Unified. We have had zero clients negatively impact their EA or long-term Microsoft relationship after leaving Premier/Unified for US Cloud support services.
Limited selection of proactive services available.
Geppetto’s response: Correct. Over the past 8 years we’ve reduced the proactive service offering from over fifty items to around a dozen that are used by 75% of our entire enterprise client base. We focus on the core Microsoft technologies and issues impacting most of our Microsoft Enterprise Support clients. Outlier proactive requirements are addressed as needed.
Partners submit incidents on your behalf, which will prevent client from requesting for escalation from Microsoft.
Geppetto’s response: Half-truth. By switching from Premier/Unified to US Cloud, 85% of the tickets are resolved by US Cloud. Another 5% are resolved by our Elite Microsoft Partner Network and 10% require escalation to MS. Our Partners do in fact submit the actual escalation ticket to Microsoft via secure GDAP. However, enterprise clients can always request escalation to Microsoft if they are a US Cloud Microsoft Enterprise Support client or by opening a ticket themselves in their Microsoft tenant via the Helpdesk admin role.
Incidents are managed during business hours only.
Geppetto’s response: False. Pinocchio is confusing Microsoft Professional Support with US Cloud Microsoft Enterprise Support. Microsoft Pro Support is where you buy incidents and they are only worked Monday thru Friday during normal business hours (USA 6 AM – 6 PM PST). US Cloud Microsoft Enterprise Support is 24/7/365 global support. And unlike Microsoft Pro or Premier/Unified, all ticket severities at US Cloud get a 15 minute guaranteed response time with the industry’s only financially-backed SLA.
Partner must remain the primary point of contact and be involved in any interactions between Microsoft and client.
Geppetto’s response: Incorrect 85% of the time. US Cloud is the primary point of contact for our Microsoft Enterprise Support clients and we fix 85% of all tickets. We escalate 15% of all tickets to our Elite Microsoft Partner Network. The US Cloud partner fixes 5% of those tickets and the remaining 10% need escalation to Microsoft for tenant or code issues.
The partner would need to be willing to raise the incident as a CritSit for it to be handled outside of business hours.
Geppetto’s response: Correct but has never been an issue. Again, this impacts only 10% of US Cloud’s total ticket workload which are escalated to Microsoft. US Cloud operates 24/7/365 operations and this includes all our Elite Microsoft Partner Network members as well.