Well, for me, when it comes to Microsoft licensing, the time to act is always now — but, really, it has never been more relevant than it is now.
If you are a current Microsoft customer obtaining your Microsoft licenses and subscriptions for the Modern Workplace (Microsoft 365 or Office 365), Business Applications (Dynamics 365) or Add-on services (Power BI, Phone System, Project etc) through the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) motion, there are some key changes coming into effect which ought to be considered and dates before when possible decisions should be made.
But, before I outline these and explain why, the first thing to state is, if you do nothing:
· The world isn’t going to stop spinning.
· Your current software and services will continue without disruption to your business and users.
· There will be no interruption or impact to your operations.
So, this isn’t intended to be an alarmist sales pitch, but just an advisory piece about why the forthcoming changes, if nothing else, helps you to maintain due diligence and good governance from a Software Asset Management perspective, and what should at least be known and understood for either action or no action to be taken in a timely and informed manner.
The key dates:
· 1st March 2022 — well-publicised price increases for Office 365 and Microsoft 365 subscriptions if on a monthly or an annual term on the current CSP platform.
· 10th March 2022 — new and renewed subscriptions must be transacted through the new CSP platform — New Commerce Experience (NCE).
· 1st July 2022 — price increases for monthly-committed subscriptions on NCE CSP platform.
Why are these important dates?
At present, customers essentially have the freedom to increase, and possibly more importantly, decrease the number of subscriptions they have and pay for, upon demand and without penalties.
This allows customers to meet evolving and changing demands within their organisation using a ‘just-enough’ and ‘just-in-time’ approach to the consumption of subscriptions.
For example, seasonal or short-term staff can have subscriptions applied when they start and then removed when they leave and the customer only pays for the time the subscriptions were available for use.
This flexibility remains through the NCE CSP motion, but there will be a premium applied (after June) to the cost of month-on-month subscriptions.
For annual subscriptions, the choice will remain to pay for these monthly and/or annually, but the customer is committed to the full annual term for each subscription with no right to decrease quantities for the entire term.
If customers can commit to a set quantity of subscriptions for 12 months, there is the incentive of a 5% discount from list price, available for 12 months for annually committed subscriptions.
Alternatively, as a middle-ground, customers can commit to an annual term for some of the same title subscriptions and month-on-month for the remaining quantity, thereby, enabling the benefit of a discount incentive to be realised whilst retaining a level of flexibility for unknown needs, albeit at a higher cost per subscription.
Or; the option which I believe may have most appeal to customers and allow them to retain choice (of both the quantities of subscriptions you hold, the partner that provides the subscriptions), maintain full flexibility (without penalty) using the monthly-upon-demand consumption, whilst also avoiding the price increases on 1st March 2022 is to convert current subscriptions to annual term, monthly payment on the current CSP platform before 1st March 2022.
This will allow the freedom to decrease the number of subscriptions you are committed to, month-on-month, for a 12 months term, at the pre-increase price levels and also allow a customer for their own reasons, the full choice to change CSP partner at any time during that next 12 months period without penalty or early-exit fees (please note: there is a contractual commitment to pay the incumbent for a minimum of 1x quantity for each subscription title for 12 months).
What is the recommended course of action?
This is of course dependent on the needs of each customer; however, in advance of 1st March 2022, it is suggested engaging with your Microsoft CSP Partner or preferably, Version 1, to help assess and review your current CSP subscriptions estate and determine the most suitable options available to you that most closely align with the needs for your business.
The important thing to consider is, whilst the breadth of options available after 1st March 2022 will be diminished, the continuation of the highest level and quality of Microsoft subscriptions services will not.
As a Microsoft Direct CSP partner, Azure Expert Microsoft Service Provider and Microsoft licensing specialists, we can advise and guide you on the appropriateness of CSP for your business and offer the full CSP lifecycle for optimal cost management and license compliance.