For the first time, IT and procurement leaders can move past the Microsoft monopoly and explore new options for enterprise support. That choice, however, comes with new risks that need to be fully understood before moving away from OEM-level support for mission-critical systems.
Options for Microsoft support now fall into three primary categories:
Read on to see how these different options stack up and which might be right for your organization.
For some, Unified Support it a great fit. Large enterprises with heavy PRS (Problem Resolution Support) usage and compatible software spend can come out ahead in the new model. Careful licensing strategy and aggressive support negotiations can yield relatively affordable OEM support on par with past Premier Support contracts.
But for those on the wrong side of the Unified pricing formula, 30%, 50%, even 300% increases are not uncommon with the switch. Some organizations are even opting out of Unified to go it alone with internal resources augmented by SAB support incidents. This approach is NOT recommended for enterprise-level clients or those with mission-critical Microsoft infrastructure given the current state of core Microsoft support.
Large system integrators, Managed Service Providers (MSP’s), Value-Added Resellers (VAR’s), Cloud Service Providers (CSP’s), and IT consultancies – traditional IT vendors of all stripes have started to offer Microsoft support in response to requests from their clients.
Large IT services organizations have some inherent advantages as they enter the high-end support market. Partners tend to be more nimble and responsive, with services (not software) as their core offering. They enjoy established relationships with clients and are already connected with the Microsoft support apparatus in some capacity.
However, providing high-level support across the entire Microsoft stack, including non-business hours, is extremely difficult. As is the ability to quickly escalate tickets to MSFT when necessary. The effort to add-on a 24/7 enterprise-level support from Microsoft has proven challenging for many of the partners who have tried to offer this service.
Although still limited to only a few providers, Independent Third-Party Specialists dedicated to Microsoft support are emerging. These “pure-play” companies are completely focused on delivering comparable support vs. Microsoft Premier or Unified but at a reduced price – often up to 50% less.
Some common misconceptions about Independents are:
If considering an Independent Third Party Specialist, make sure to verify their ability to escalate quickly to Microsoft for high-severity tickets, require contractual SLA’s for response times and escalations, and ask about support engineer credentials and locations.
Each option has pluses and minuses that should be considered. Which is right for your organization largely depends on what elements of support are most important to you. Is it:
Read below to consider pro’s and con’s of the three provider types.
When evaluating your options, it is important to dig into the detail with all your vendors, probing for weak spots in the offering that could have a big impact on fit or viability for your organization. Whether in negotiations or in a RFP, you can gain significant leverage by illustrating that you understand the trade offs.
Read below for some potential questions that can help you apply pressure when vetting potential Microsoft support partners.
Given that Microsoft support is a new category for most IT and procurement teams, specific evaluation criteria often needs to be created. Software-based or other tech services evaluation templates don’t hit the right elements, leading to subpar selection.
To help organizations make a good choice for their Microsoft support, US Cloud created a blank MSFT support-specific RFP template. Use the form as is for an RFP effort, or pick and choose elements for your own process. Download the RFP template here: