Microsoft Unified Support – how is it priced?

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The Product Terms site now lists a whole host of information about the support offerings that are available through Volume Licensing – with links to supporting documentation too. Finding any information on Microsoft Support has always been surprisingly difficult so this update makes a welcome change!

In this post, I want to look at the information made available by Microsoft and explore what’s on offer. There are two main flavours of Microsoft support, giving access to different services and priced in different ways.

Microsoft Unified Support

This is the latest addition to Microsoft’s support portfolio, introduced in 2019, and Microsoft made a concerted effort to move as many customers as possible from the existing Premier Support (discussed below) to the new Unified Support. This wasn’t a particularly popular move as it generally led to significant price increases for organisations.

First of all, it’s worth noting that Unified Support has a relatively limited reach as it is only available in 22 countries globally:

There are three flavours of Unified Support:

  • Unified Advanced Base
  • Unified Performance Base
  • Unified Enterprise Base

The first two, Advanced and Performance, are governed by the “Support & Consulting Services Description (“SCSD”)” which is available here – while Unified Enterprise is governed by the “Unified Enterprise Support Services Description (“USSD”)”, available here.

What’s included?

Previous information, and in fact the current SCSD, break down Unified Support into 3 options:

  • Core
  • Advanced
  • Performance

but as you can see above, the Product Terms list:

  • Advanced
  • Performance
  • Enterprise

It looks like there has been a change to the levels of support but I’ve not seen an announcement saying as much.

Flex Allowance

Calculated as a percentage of your contract’s list price, this can be used for Proactive services, enhanced services and solutions, Support Technology Advisor, Proactive credits or Custom Proactive Services.

Proactive Services

Although not included with Unified Enterprise, they are all available via Flex Allowance or as a separate, additional purchase.

Unified Enterprise Pricing

Microsoft calculate your “Product Spend” aka “P” which is comprised of:

  • Cloud services purchases in previous 12 months
  • Software Assurance purchases in previous 12 months
  • License only purchases in previous 60 months

and then they price Unified Support as a percentage of that spend. For Azure, it is calculated as:

while for other products it is:

Microsoft state that:

Rates are graduated, so if a customer has $6M in annual Azure spend, it would be
calculated as 10% of the first $1.8M and 7% of the next $4.2M ($6M-$1.8M).

Microsoft Datasheet

So in Microsoft’s example of $6m Azure spend, the Unified Support cost would be:

10% of $1.8m = $180,000

7% of $4.2m = $294,000

Total = $474,000

The publicly available Microsoft documentation doesn’t provide pricing information for the “Advanced” and “Performance” levels but, based on previous information (like this), it will be the same format as above but with lower percentages.

Microsoft Premier Support

Premier Support offerings are detailed in the “Enterprise Services Description of Services” which you can download here. The document gives a pretty thorough overview of all the different services available under Premier Support including:

  • Architecture services
  • Digital Advisory
  • Implementation & Optimization

With the introduction of Unified Support, Microsoft have been working to migrate as many customers as possible across from Premier. However, it is still possible to remain on Premier Support…although it doesn’t appear to be particularly easy.

What’s included?

There are different levels of Premier Support listed in the Product Terms:

although, as mentioned, this isn’t Microsoft’s preferred option anymore.

Optional Enhanced Services & Solutions

Additional paid services are available, these include:

  • Designated Support Engineering (“DSE”): DSE services are delivered as described in the applicable services description (SCSD or USSD)
  • Rapid Response services are delivered as described in the applicable services description (SCSD or USSD)
  • Microsoft Azure Event Management (“AEM”) services (Unified Support only)
  • Office 365 Engineering Direct services (Unified Support only)
  • Developer Support services
  • Support for Mission Critical services (Unified Support only)

You can see this, and more info, in the Product Terms here.

Conclusion

It’s good that Microsoft is making this information available – anything that enables customers and partners to do more research and be better prepared for sales conversations/renewals etc is a good thing. However, it isn’t complete and does seem to contradict some of the longstanding info regarding the support levels etc. so there’s still a fair amount of confusion.

If anyone has anything they can add to this and/or any corrections, please let me know.

Further Reading

Support & Consulting Services Description (“SCSD”)

Unified Enterprise Support Services Description (“USSD”)

Enterprise Services Description of Services

Unified Support datasheet

Product Terms Support page

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