Renewing with Microsoft requires a degree of acceptance. You’re accepting that they will be overcharging you for suboptimal services. You accept that they hold a monopoly over their support services, despite being woefully underequipped to adequately offer that support to clients. The cost continues to rise across the world as Microsoft doubles down on their gamble that you won’t take the third-party risk when your renewal date approaches. But renewing won’t just lock you into a multi-year contract, there are equal or greater risks than time wasted on support that doesn’t care about you.
The biggest concern for businesses renewing is the cost associated with MS Premier/Unified Support services. This price has risen steadily year over year, with the most recent being the price increase for Office 365 in 2022, the Cloud services price increase for European countries in April 2023, and the recent “consistent pricing change” for select countries using Cloud services on September 1, 2023.
Being able to forecast the cost of your Microsoft Premier/Unified Support gives you a degree of safety for future planning. As Microsoft continues to increase their support prices, your technology budget is placed in jeopardy. If you can’t accurately predict your cloud consumption, you’ll be unable to avoid future Premier/Unified cost increases.
Microsoft tries to entice you with the promise of unlimited Premier/Unified Support product support. They dangle this carrot in front of you, knowing that your options are limited. They also know this gives them the power to increase prices at their leisure, knowing that you will have to pay them. Unified Support is predicted to cost 2-5 times more than Premier over the next 5 years, with a 6-8% increase to most Enterprise Agreements (EA) at renewal. While the cost of Premier is hardly better, it is slowly being phased out over the next decade, meaning that soon your only option will be Unified Support.
While your future in Microsoft Support may sound bleak, there are a few ways to get ahead of the curve. First, about 3 months before your Premier/Unified renewal, CTOs should conduct an audit on the proposed renewal to fully understand how the price is calculated and if they intend to take advantage of you. An audit may allow you to see and fully understand the trajectory from the previous 3-5 years.
Any information that you request should be sent in a spreadsheet, not a PDF. The information should include your contract number and type, along with a detailed list of every product in the contract, annual cost, and type. Once you have a handle on what Microsoft products and services you absolutely need and how they affect your Premier/Unified Support cost, put them in a spreadsheet and apply any anticipated growth across those various products over the next 5 years.
Not only is the price consistently increasing, but the quality is dropping at an equal rate across the support side of the organization. Microsoft can’t keep up with the demand and it shows.
Microsoft service delivery struggles to keep up as more Premier/Unified clients take advantage of opening tickets as needed. Due to outsourced v-dash engineers comprising a good portion of their support staff, the Microsoft support experience continues to deteriorate each year.
The Customer Success Account Managers are the new primary customer facing role. They are tasked with delivering on customer success through the management of program deliveries while strengthening customer relationships. While this would be nice, the prevailing business priority is the successful adoption of customers and the productive use of Microsoft cloud technologies. CSAMs have half the technical knowledge of a TAM, yet are considered their replacement in the new Unified Support model. Even those in Premier will encounter more CSAMs as the model slowly phases out over the next decade.
The Technical Account Managers are responsible for planning, managing, and reviewing the delivery of support services with clients and ensuring it aligns with their IT and business goals. The TAM is also an escalation point and ensures that clients receive the best support experience in the industry. TAMs are no longer a support option from Microsoft. If you want someone to manage and escalate on your behalf, US Cloud Premier/Unified Support has you covered.
Service Level Agreements aren’t part of Microsoft’s offerings. With Unified, you get a 30-minute response time target for critical issues, along with a priority handling for all incidents. Microsoft and its outsourced support partners have no contractual obligation to adhere to strict response times, ticket escalations, or time to resolutions. If financially backed SLAs are vital to your Microsoft support experience, you may want to consider an alternative Microsoft Premier/Unified Support option like US Cloud.
Microsoft Cloud Solution Providers and their customers are experiencing a degrading support experience. While CSPs are required by Microsoft to offer support to their customers, many don’t have the skill or resources to offer tier 3 and 4 support for all Microsoft products. Additionally, CSPs are starting to see escalated tickets to Microsoft taking weeks to get a response. CSPs that want faster ticket resolution across the entire Microsoft stack should consider US Cloud for consistent and effective tier 3 and 4 Microsoft Support.
While you can’t directly affect the dwindling quality of service that Microsoft puts out (besides voting with your wallet), there are a few ways to course correct and save yourself the pain.
First, you can build out your enterprise’s helpdesk and core Microsoft support team, either internally or externally, so you can resolve more issues on your own and send fewer tickets to Premier/Unified. This may be difficult to do internally with Premier/Unified support and labor costs rising, which is where an external support option like US Cloud can lend a hand.
Additionally, you can use your CSP, LSP, or local MSP to take on more of the Microsoft support workload, such as L2-L3. A standard enterprise help desk is only able to typically handle L1, while MSPs operate well up to L2. Specialty CSP or LSPs may be able to handle L3 depending on their specialization. You can combine these various solutions to create a support network that can handle each type of solution tier, or go to a third-party capable of all three.
A proven third-party Microsoft Support provider like US Cloud is capable of replacing your Microsoft Premier/Unified Support. Check for SLAs around areas where Premier/Unified is consistently failing you. Then test their solutions against US Cloud to see if our long-term commitment to consistent resolution times outperform Microsoft. For those in the middle of large projects with Microsoft, consider finishing them before you move to a third-party for a smoother transition.
If you weren’t already aware, a significant part of Microsoft’s Premier/Unified Support is outsourced to temporary engineers, many of which are foreign nationals. This puts Federal agencies, Defense contractors, and Aerospace enterprises in the path of unnecessary and in some cases, illegal risk as they open themselves up to data exfiltration, ransomware, and espionage.
Microsoft has a limited pool of active security clearance Designated Support Engineers (DSE) available, but it comes with a steep price tag. However, Microsoft will not contractually commit to having all Premier/Unified support tickets being handled by US citizens, placing many agencies and contractors outside of compliance regulations.
Even if you do get an outsourced v-dash engineer that is state-side, you’re leaving the fate of your software tickets to the unknown. These engineers have varying degrees of experience and are used to bolster the ranks of Microsoft’s support offerings while saving them money. This results in the spotty and decreased support quality you’ve come to almost expect with Microsoft.
US Cloud contractually guarantees that all our engineers are US citizens for Federal, state, local government, DoD, and aerospace compliance. Support sovereignty at US Cloud negates the risk associated with foreign nationals accessing your secure IT systems.
We will contractually guarantee that all encrypted support logs and tickets remain in the US and all support personnel working on help desk tickets are rigorously screened US citizens. US Cloud Premier/Unified Support provides faster response times than Microsoft alongside the only financially backed SLAs in the industry.
Is Microsoft a support monopoly that abuses their market position as the only support option for their services? Many organizations would say so. In the Premier support model, enterprises were essentially forced to buy the hours they needed for the Microsoft technologies they used, but with the new Unified support model, most organizations agree they are paying more and getting less.
To make matters worse, many businesses don’t realize there are alternatives available to cover their Microsoft support needs. Most enterprise procurement teams expect to be treated well by their vendors. If you buy a product, you expect the product to work well, and when issues arise, the support to be good enough to keep the product running well into the future. Procurement’s job is to make sure the enterprise is being treated fairly by the vendor and receiving maximum value from the service. Do you feel that your Microsoft support is providing fair and valuable service?
Many procurement teams are reporting aggressive Unified sales tactics, high price increases, and a hardened, monopolistic attitude from Microsoft sales teams. With no apparent competition, Microsoft sales teams have the power to hold their tough stance. They are free to dictate the terms of Premier/Unified support and drive vendor lock in. The options remaining to procurement teams are:
The greatest form of leverage you can use against Microsoft in a renewal deal is to find a comparable substitute and what they offer against what Microsoft offers. Third-party Microsoft support gives IT leaders the leverage they need to avoid or leave the abusive relationship they have with Microsoft.
Once you find a Microsoft support competitor like US Cloud, procurement is able to begin the vetting process to ensure they are a viable alternative. If you don’t have enough time to complete the vetting process before the Premier/Unified renewal, you can leverage the third-party Microsoft support provider’s bid against Microsoft for a more competitive quote.
The saying “vote with your wallet” has stuck around this long because it rings true. If something feels unfair, it probably is. If you can find an economical or effective third-party solution that fits all of your needs while costing far less than the industry titan, a switch may be the best option.
You now have a choice. US Cloud offers faster Microsoft support for less. Besides saving you 30-50% on your Premier/Unified Support costs, we are the only third-party to offer financially backed SLAs and fully domestic engineers. If you want to avoid the risks, financial or otherwise, that come with using Microsoft Support, US Cloud can help.