Microsoft Changes Their Minimum Enterprise Agreement (EA) Seat Count

January 14, 2016
Neil Lomax


Neil Lomax

President North America & EVP for WW Sales StrategyBusiness IT is evolving. From on-premises to the cloud, Enterprises, IT teams and Lines of Business are seeking disruptive technologies that simultaneously drive innovation and maximize the value of their investment.Linkedin

Microsoft has made another bold move in its journey to simplify the customer’s experience with purchasing, licensing, and subscribing to Microsoft products and technology.

As of July 1, 2016, the minimum commitment to the Enterprise Agreement (EA) program will be raised from 250 users/devices to 500 users/devices.

Why is Microsoft making yet another drastic change to the EA structure?

As we’ve commented before when Microsoft launched its Enterprise Cloud Suite back in 2014, Satya Nadella has been redefining Microsoft’s identity as the frontrunner in pushing the “Mobile-first, Cloud-first” agenda. So, effectively, upping the minimum EA commitment from 250 to 500 is really Microsoft’s means of pushing its two preferred agreements for organizations with less than 500 seats:

  • Microsoft Products and Services Agreement (MPSA) is an easy way to license and purchase both software and online services through a single agreement. With MPSA, you can create a purchasing structure that meets your needs while optimizing pricing through point consolidation.
  • Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) is for customers who are fully committed to online services and who are looking to outsource service management. Since SoftwareONE is a fully-certified CSP, we own can assist your end-to-end lifecycle management with direct provisioning, billing, and support for online services.

Given the change in the EA structure, we agree that the MPSA and CSP agreements are the preferred alternatives to EA for organizations with less than 500 seats. We’ll go into more detail in subsequent posts regarding the benefits of each. For now, let’s answer some common questions regarding the new EA structure.

What about existing EA customers that do not meet the new minimum commitment, but want to remain on the EA structure?

It should also be noted that Microsoft has indicated that existing customers approaching renewal with fewer than 500 users/devices will be able to extend their current Enrollments for 36 months (current program rules will apply). However, at the end of that agreement you will have to transition to a new agreement anyways, so it may be beneficial begin strategizing your transition sooner than later.

Will this change impact Government EA customers?

No. The minimum number of users/devices for Government EAs will remain at 250. This includes the Government Partner model as well as State and Local Government EAs in the United States.

What options do customers have if MPSA is not yet available in their country/region?

The minimum user/device commitment in countries/regions where MPSA is not yet available (e.g. India, China) will remain at 250. For any other location where MPSA is not available, potential EA customers should leverage the exception process. The EA minimum will remain at 250 users/devices until 90 days past MPSA launch. India and China have dedicated Enterprise Enrollment templates. In these two locations, the contractual minimum will remain 250 users/devices. Other locations without MPSA use shared Enterprise Enrollment templates, and the contractual minimum will be raised to 500.

This is unquestionably the most significant announcement thus far in 2016! SoftwareONE is one of Microsoft’s few partners in over 100 countries capable of guiding customers along their own path to the cloud. If you have any questions regarding any of your software licensing needs – especially as it relates to how this new EA minimum seat count affects your IT strategy – then click the banner below and complete the following form and a SoftwareONE Microsoft Specialist will reach out to you shortly.

One Response

  1. Cedric DeAir says:

    My company is on an EA with the 250 Users;
    Our company has sold may part of the business and our users are now sub 100 – this make the EA an expensive option –
    We have 2 more years on the agreement – Will Microsoft allow us to exit the agreement and continue with individual licences

    Many Thanks
    Cedric DeAir

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