Microsoft Leans on Its Partner Ecosystem for Strategic Cloud Services

February 23, 2017
Editorial Staff


Editorial Staff

In 2017, Microsoft continue to develop a modern digital licensing strategy, with a new focus on the ‘Cloud Solution Provider’ (CSP) program and a deprecation of MPSA for strategic cloud services.

CSP enables Microsoft to develop a scalable ‘self-service’ digital Office365 and Azure partner ecosystem with digital delivery and digital management platforms, cloud support, and managed services.

Partner-enabled “Self-Service” web options enable on-premise and cloud native businesses to purchase, adopt, and manage their digital portfolio.

In the long term, Microsoft will improve “Microsoft Assisted” (EA) and Partner self-serve web options (CSP), hinting at continuance of both ‘MS Supported’ digital direct, and partner enabled indirect digital channels.

Accordingly, SoftwareONE – a digital platform, solutions, and services company – is well placed strategically in the market, with PyraCloud, Cloud Support, and Managed Services to ‘wrap’ around the CSP model, while leveraging global scale for local support and sourcing intelligence.

Reflecting this strategy, from February 1st, Microsoft will stop adding new Azure customers through the Microsoft Products and Services Agreement (MPSA). MPSA customers who want to buy Azure will now be guided primarily to the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program. An evolving programme which provides a platform for ‘self-service’ and flexible access to Microsoft cloud solutions and services extensibly via a rich partner ecosystem of digital platforms, support and managed services that enable a ‘digital ready business’.

Microsoft continue to direct customers towards ‘strategic cloud’ initiatives like Secure Productive Enterprise (SPE) and Azure via EA, with classical resellers maintaining revenue streams based on rebates and incentives in the short term; but success for partners and customers will be dependent on their investment in digital platforms to enable and manage the cloud, technology and advisory services to enable return on investment and cost reduction over the digital lifecycle.

The Microsoft partners that thrive would have seen the course and not only reacted, but accelerated ahead of the competition, balancing Microsoft’s ‘modern licensing’ strategy with the needs and interests of their customers to manage a digital ready business. 

January and December saw a number of important licensing and solution updates from Redmond, including but not limited to:

  • Microsoft increased UK pricing goes into effect from January 1st. Office365 and Azure will now cost 22% more than in December, and on-premise solutions will increase by 13%
  • Microsoft removed 5% additional Azure discount from SCE in December as part of ‘flat’ pricing strategy for Azure across channels.
  • Microsoft VDA Subscription USL/ Upgrade USL now benefit from Windows 10 Ent CBB on Azure
  • Microsoft VDA Subscription Device will not benefit from the Windows 10 Enterprise CBB on Azure Benefit.
  • The Azure Hybrid Use Benefit (AHUB) is available from February 1st in all Azure regions pay only compute for Windows Server Images.
  • The Windows Server 2016 Nano Configuration will require CALs with SA
  • Microsoft clarify disabling cores for CIS, Windows Server and System Center 2016 DOES NOT reduce licensable cores in Volume Licensing.
  • System Center Client Management Suite is broken down to components from January 1st. Client MLs for DPM, SCOM, Service Manager, Orchestrator.
  • Effective March 2017, Windows Server and SQL Server Premium Assurance will be available as an SA add-on SKU
  • SQL Server 2016 SP1 includes Feature Updates. Microsoft assure customers Software Assurance (SA) is not required.
  • Standalone Yammer SKU retired on January 1st 2017. Existing EA customers can use retired SKU for 2 years, or for term or current EA
  • Software Assurance – Home Use Program (HUP) employees can now purchase Office Pro Plus 2016 AND Office Home & Business 2016 for Mac
  • Microsoft will standardise the naming for meters across all Azure services based on a common naming convention
  • Download Center: For all meters and their before/after attribute values:
  • Microsoft have released ‘talking points’ for SPE
  • Office365 Advanced eDiscovery is renamed ‘Advanced Compliance’ from January 1st with all E5 components being rebranded as ‘Advanced’ packages with ongoing features evolution.

*Read Tony’s original article on his personal blog –

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