Microsoft Unified Support

At the start of its 2019 fiscal year, Microsoft launched Unified Support as a replacement for Premier Support. At the time, it was hailed as the most substantial change to Microsoft’s support programs in two decades, and that it offers customers a simpler, cohesive method of incorporating all of its Microsoft support needs.

Since that time, many Miro Clients have been approached by Microsoft – some would suggest badgered by them – to move from Premier Support to Unified Support.

And the response has been overwhelmingly negative for two reasons: the cost, and its relative value. We’ll examine these two factors momentarily, but it might be worth it to refresh our memories about how Unified Support is offered.

Background

Perhaps the best way to do that is via the following graphic that compares and contrasts the Premier Support agreement with the various levels of the Unified Support agreement.

Offering

PREMIER SUPPORT

MICROSOFT UNIFIED SUPPORT

Core

Advanced

Performance

Pricing

Pricing is based on forecasted consumption and on that number of hours per discipline

Pricing is based on annual costs:

Applications / System Pools: 6%
(including Office 365 subscriptions)

Server Pool: 8%
(including Client Access Licenses)

Pricing is based on annual costs:

Applications / System Pools: 8%
(including Office 365 subscriptions)

Server Pool: 10%
(including Client Access Licenses)

Pricing is based on annual costs:

Applications / System Pools: 10%
(including Office 365 subscriptions)

Server Pool: 12%
(including Client Access Licenses)

Account Management

Technical Account Manager ("TAM")

Team: shared or dedicated (a more costly option)

Service Delivery Team

Service Delivery Manager

Service Delivery Manager

Proactive Support

Must be included in forecast model

No limit

No limit

No limit

Proactive Support Risk assessments, planning, implementation, and other  engagements

Included in Support Assistance hours

Extra fees for this optional service

Must be scheduled 60 days in advance

Must be scheduled 60 days in advance

Problem Resolution Support ("PRS") – Reactive support

Must be included in forecast model

No limit

No limit

No limit

Problem Resolution Support ("PRS") – Online services

Included in Problem Resolution Support without consuming hours

Included in fees for Office 365, Azure, and Dynamics

Included in fees for Office 365, Azure, and Dynamics

Included in fees for Office 365, Azure, and Dynamics

Response Time

Catastrophic / critical: One (1) hour

Standard: Two (2) hours during business hours

Catastrophic / critical: One (1) hour

Standard: Eight (8) hours

Catastrophic / critical: One (1) hour

Standard: Four (4) hours

Catastrophic / critical: 30 minutes

Standard: Four (4) hours

High Level Technical Support

Extra fees for this optional service

Not available

Part of program and includes priority forwarding for catastrophic / critical issues

Part of program and includes priority forwarding for all issues

Minimum Contract Amount

N/A

$25,000

$50,000

$175,000

 

Analysis

Perhaps the single most significant change is the cost. First, the Unified Support agreement has a minimum contract amount. But if unlimited Proactive Support is required, for example, then opting for Unified Support would be the correct call. However, even the least costly option – the Core program – could result in a higher expense.

To illustrate, consider a traditional Premium Support contract with 80 hours of Proactive Support and 385 hours of Problem Resolution Support (of which 226 were covered by Software Assurance) costs about $120,000.

In order to have 226 hours of Problem Resolution Support, the estimated spend is about $3.34M annually. This would translate into an annual cost for Unified Support of $205,000 for the Core program (i.e., the lowest level) regardless of the status of deployment.

Explanation of Costs

The second aspect of Unified Support that many of Miro’s Clients find unattractive is the perceived value. Many of them explained how the regular reports that Premier Support included were never received. And they attributed that lack of service as a future accompaniment to the more expensive Unified Support.

But most of the Clients who had considered Unified Support thought that the way in which the agreement works was overkill. The reason the disciplines within the Premier Support agreement were so deliberately calculated was because of the mission critical nature of the few applications that warranted the additional investment. The amounts in Figure 2 were drawn from a real-life scenario.

The Client had determined that the number of Proactive Support hours and the number of Problem Resolution Support hours were deemed sufficient for their plans for the ensuing year. And they based these calculations on the quantity of users, the quantity of applications, the Microsoft products that were deployed, and the impact to their business should these applications become non-operational. Other Microsoft products whose importance didn’t reach the heights of “mission critical” were discounted, even though, in this instance, some of them were covered by Software Assurance.

This level of planning can be tedious. Sure. But it lent a level of flexibility to the Client in terms of investing in support.

Availability

As of the beginning of Microsoft’s fiscal 2020 on July 1, 2019, Unified Support is expected to be widely available as it continues its global roll out.

Conclusion

An IT professional must maintain adequate support for the organization’s mission critical applications. And Microsoft’s Unified Support program could well play into that. But it is important to determine whether Unified Support is the right fit.

You are invited to contact Miro Consulting to for additional information.