The Dangers of Microsoft Premier Support for Public Sector Customers
Microsoft cannot guarantee USA-based support for the US Army, placing it and other public sector customers, in non-compliance with DFARS requirements
If you’re reading this blog, chances are you’re one of Microsoft’s thousands of Premier (Unified) Support customers.
This past quarter (as of March 31, 2018), Microsoft announced its revenue was nearly $27 billion, with Office 365 commercial revenue growing 42 percent, Dynamics products and cloud services revenue increasing 17 percent, Azure revenue growth of 93 percent, and enterprise services revenue increasing 8 percent – all when compared to the corresponding period last fiscal year.
Even though Microsoft is headquartered in Redmond, Washington, the company is a truly global behemoth, operating in more than 190 countries according to its last annual report.
While being a multinational corporation can have its advantages – size, scale, and reach – it can also be a disadvantage, especially for public sector companies who need Microsoft’s enterprise support services. For many of these federal entities in the US, they must comply with two major regulations: DFARS and ITAR.
NIST Special Publication 800-171 Protecting Covered Defense Information in Nonfederal Systems and Organizations, otherwise known as DFARS, outlines 14 families of security requirements for protecting the confidentiality of information you must meet in order to continue providing services and products to large defense organizations such as the Department of Defense. Within those 14 families, there are 110 control to address, such as mandatory security information and event management, multi-factor authentication, encryption of all data (at rest and in transit), and policies and written authentication for your security procedures and protocol.
The International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) is a U.S. government export regulation is designed to control access to specific types of technology and associated data. Administered by the U.S. State Department Directorate of Defense Trade Controls, the legislation law primarily applies to defense contractors that manufacture and/or export products, but all companies in the supply chain for such products must register to obtain the appropriate import or export license and meet the ITAR requirements. ITAR stipulates that regulated technical data – regardless of its form – may be used solely by U.S. persons employed by the U.S. government or a U.S. company.
To summarize, 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.
In conversations we’re having with many of our public sector customers, they are meeting with Microsoft regularly to determine what the change to Unified Support will mean for them – specifically, if the support services they receive will be worth the approximately 30 percent increase in total cost.
An interesting takeaway from these conversations is that due to Microsoft’s global nature, they leverage many call centers overseas to provide 24/7 support to its customers. While we’ve talked in the past about the drawbacks and delays in support that can cause, one of the biggest issues is that Microsoft doesn’t guarantee support tickets would be worked solely by support staff within the United States – a mandate of the DFARS and ITAR regulations.
This is leaving many public sector companies in a bind: They need support for its use of Microsoft technologies and services, but that support must reside solely within the United States. They can’t have one without the other.
The good news is that there are alternatives that provide a better level of service while ensuring all support is based in America. Look no further than US Cloud, which delivers:
USA-based support – You will never be outsourced to a call center overseas. All US Cloud staff are located in St. Louis, Missouri.
30-60 percent cost savings – Only purchase the support you need and don’t pay extra for support on products you don’t use
5x faster response – Microsoft Premier Support average response times hover around 30 minutes. US Cloud will respond to your ticket in 6 minutes.
Hours that never expire – Your support hours never expire with us, 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.
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.
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.
Billing on your terms – We offer subscription billing and installment options that meet your specific needs.