Next year, IT buyers will have a new option when it comes to purchasing Microsoft software and subscribing to the company's cloud offerings.
Just before the long July 4th holiday weekend in the United States, the Redmond, Wash., software giant announced on Friday that it plans to kick off a new Microsoft Products and Services Agreement (MPSA) licensing option in 2017 dubbed Enterprise Advantage. Once Microsoft rolls out the new plan, enterprise software buyers will be able to mix subscription and perpetual software purchases with the company's cloud services slate, including Azure, Office 365 and Dynamics CRM Online.
"Enterprise Advantage on MPSA will offer the same business bargain, including products, pricing, and coverage, as the Enterprise Agreement, plus the added flexibility of the MPSA to align to your purchasing structure and needs," wrote Richard Smith, general manager of Microsoft Worldwide Licensing and Pricing, in a July 1 blog post. "At launch, Enterprise Advantage on MPSA will be available for all commercial customers in markets where the MPSA is available, but will be the optimal choice for most customers with up to 2,400 users or devices."
Smith further added that the new licensing model is more flexible than previous options, enabling large businesses to purchase Microsoft software and services when they wish without additional enrollments. Another benefit is a measure of budget predictability along with price protection, he said.
Enterprise Advantage will also allow businesses to keep a closer eye on their software spending, said Smith. It will enable businesses to "[more] easily manage your assets, including true-up and true-down of subscriptions and services, to meet ever-changing business needs."
Each year, Enterprise Agreement customers are required to "true-up," or take an inventory of the number of software licenses they acquired over the previous 12 months (if any) and submit it to Microsoft for billing purposes. Naturally, fast-growing businesses and organizations with unpredictable technology requirements can wind up paying substantially more for their software at the end of this process.
Microsoft plans to offer options similar to Enterprise Advantage to its Government Advantage and Education Advantage customers sometime in 2017, added Smith.
In the meantime, Microsoft is taking the final steps in retiring Select Plus. The company first announced that it planned to phase out the volume licensing offering two years ago, effectively replacing it with MPSA. Beginning this month, Select Plus customers will no longer be able to place orders after they reach their anniversary dates.
Microsoft has also raised the minimum commitment for new Enterprise Agreement customers to 500 users or devices, up from 250 previously. The company recommends MPSA for commercial customers with lower user and device counts (250 to 499).
Some regions won't be affected by these Select Plus and Enterprise Agreement changes. Microsoft noted that it's business as usual for customers in China, India and other markets where MSPA is not available.