Higher Costs, Falling Quality.

Microsoft Premier/Unified Support frustration grows with enterprise procurement and IT leaders.

MS Unified Support uses a new formula-based approach (tied to Microsoft software spend) that has meant brutal price hikes for many enterprises. Add that to deteriorating service quality that appears to be accelerating and it’s no wonder that the Fortune 500 and Global 2000 are struggling to cope.

Unified sticker shock increases year-over-year even in 3 year deals or tied to EAs – Unified baselines reset annually. The volality of Unified’s pricing based on Microsoft software spend makes future cost prediction difficult for enterprise procurement teams. Falling Microsoft enterprise support quality delivered by outsourced/offshored MS partners is frustrating enterprise IT.
Microsoft Unified Support is Too Expensive

Unified Sticker Shock

For some enterprises, Microsoft Unified Support is a good fit. Careful licensing strategy and aggressive Microsoft negotiations can yield relatively affordable OEM support on par with past Premier Support contracts.

But for those enterprises on the wrong side of Microsoft’s Unified pricing formula, 30%, 50%, even 300%+ increases are not uncommon with the forced transition from Premier to Unified.

Some smaller organizations are even opting out of Unified to go it alone with internal resources augmented by SAB support incidents (retired Feb 1, 2023) or support from a VAR. This approach is NOT recommended for enterprises or those with mission-critical Microsoft infrastructure as the cost of downtime far outweighs the price of third-party competitor alternatives to Microsoft Unified.

Year 2 & 3: More Increases

Enterprises heading into their second and third years of Unified Support are reporting additional and substantial cost increases.  Some are due to Microsoft raising rates and no longer offsetting software maintenance expenses with SAB credits used in year one. But much larger increases await enterprises planning greater adoption of Microsoft Azure/365/Dynamics, industry clouds or AI.

Often overlooked in budget calculations is that Unified Support costs increase 8-12% for every dollar of new Azure, M365 and Dynamics annual spend. Some enterprises sought price protection via 3 year Unified agreements or by tying support to their Enterprise Agreement (EA). Unfortunately all have come to realize that the Unified cost baseline resets annually (upward for most) and that they were unable to explore cost-saving third-party competitor alternatives to MS Unified.

Also, companies migrating from on-premise to the Microsoft Cloud can have estimated cost efficiencies wiped out by ballooning support spend. In one 2023 example, a 50k-user enterprise moving from Exchange on-premise to Office 365 E5 saw a 479% increase after switching to Unified.

Pricing Predictability at Risk

Microsoft Unified Support is a risk to enterprise technology budgets. CTOs must be able to accurately forecast Microsoft cloud consumption while avoiding significant future Unified cost increases. Unified Support’s unlimited Microsoft product support initially looks attractive but often results in significant cost increases for enterprises over time.

Unified Support is forecasted to cost 2-5 times more than Premier after 5 years. Enterprise IT leaders are reporting loss of one-time discounts, reductions in Software Assurance Benefit (SAB) credits and increases in their Microsoft spending as the biggest contributors to Microsoft Unified Support price predictability risk.

Enterprise sourcing and procurement teams should do the following to ensure transparency and pricing predictability of Unified Support:

  • Ensure Unified Support is worth the cost and consider third-party competitor alternatives
  • Create a multiyear Unified Support cost forecast showing the impact of the loss of SAB credits (retired Feb 1, 2023)
  • Build an aging report showing how the cost of support of Microsoft software purchased without Software Assurance (SA) will change
  • Integrate planning for Unified Support into all Microsoft product and service purchasing decisions
  • Create a multiyear forecast that takes Microsoft spending changes, SABs, discounts, etc., into account so enterprises can budget properly for Unified Support for the following year

Decreasing Quality

According to research by a leading Microsoft industry analyst, the transition to Unified Support has been a customer satisfaction disaster. Based on interviews with Microsoft Premier and Unified Support enterprise clients over the last five years, the percentage of Fortune 500 and Global 2000 reporting falling Microsoft Enterprise Support quality went from 17% in 2018 to a whopping 68% in 2023.

The two largest quality issues being reported across the majority of enterprises needing expert support for their mixed (on-premise and cloud) Microsoft software portfolios are response and resolution times.

Sub 1 hour response times are being marketed as Unified add-ons:  Rapid response, mission critical, third-tier support direct access, critical-situation management, event management and engineering direct.  All are essentially faster response time offerings and available from third-party competitor alternatives at a fraction of the cost.

Resolution time creep is impacting Enterprise IT teams and end user satisfaction as Unified service delivery teams struggle to keep up with surging ticket loads. However, savvy enterprises are reporting relief with third-party competitor alternatives to MS United Support. Time-to-resolution (TTR) is 22% to 37% faster with US Cloud.

Additional quality issues being reported by Microsoft Premier/Unified Support enterprise clients in 2023 include:

  • Lengthening and unworkable support response times
  • Ballooning resolution times across most technologies
  • Endless engineer transfers
  • Needing to “start over” multiple times
  • Dialect and communication issues
  • Being “ghosted” after initial engagements
  • CSAMs’ inability to effectively expedite
  • Lower-level engineers acting as barriers
  • Pervasive use of ineffective offshore engineers

Outsourced and Offshored

Microsoft is doing less and less of the break-fix support under Premier and Unified Support. Foreign outsourcers are shouldering much of the increasing load with response times and ticket resolution times suffering.

Microsoft’s outsourcing of Premier/Unified support doesn’t impact enterprise sourcing and procurement teams but it does cause considerable frustration and wasted time for Enterprise IT teams. “V-dash” outsourced service delivery is cheaper for Microsoft and expensive for enterprises. Lower Microsoft skill sets, language barriers, siloed and less experienced engineers, and weak infrastructure all add up to a poor Microsoft Enterprise Support experience.

While outsourcing Microsoft Premier/Unified ultimately results in a weaker support experience for Enterprise IT, it’s the offshoring that causes enterprises the most concern. Many enterprises in regulated industries are expressly forbidden from using foreign nationals to support their Microsoft software or infrastructure. Likewise, support logs, PII, and sensitive support ticket content flowing out of the country of origin create compliance and data sovereignty issues for multi-national enterprises and the Global 2000.

Microsoft Premier/Unified Support : Microsoft outsourced and offshored support with V-Dash

The Microsoft Monopoly

Many enterprises feel that Microsoft has taken advantage of their position in the market as the “only” option for Microsoft Enterprise Support. Enterprise sourcing and procurement teams are fed up with the aggressive MS Unified sales tactics, exorbitant price increases, and a “take it or leave it” attitude from Microsoft sales teams.

With traditionally no viable competition, Microsoft sales teams have been free to dictate terms of Unified Support and literally drive vendor lock in. Enterprise procurement’s seemingly limited options included: Unified multi-year contracts, self-support for all Microsoft technologies, MSP for limited Microsoft technologies, or no support.

If you question whether Microsoft Premier or Unified Support is a monopoly here are the attributes whereby a single seller is the industry:

  • Sets its own prices
  • Maximizes profits
  • Reduces the quality of its offerings
  • Limits customer choices
  • Follows price discrimination
  • Full control over the supply
  • Barriers to entry

Fortunately enterprises now have a choice for Microsoft Enterprise support and hundreds of savvy enterprises have chosen the third-party competitor US Cloud, as an alternative to Microsoft Premier/Unified Support. Join the growing ranks of our Fortune 500 and Global 2000 enterprise clients for the freedom to choose: 30-50% lower cost, better quality, flexible contracts, faster resolution, shorter response times, and service delivery by US persons.

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