Late last year, Richard Smith, GM at Microsoft Worldwide Licensing & Pricing, revealed it would be introducing a “next-generation approach to commercial licensing” to provide customers a more flexible and simplified purchasing experience across all solutions. Dubbed by Microsoft as Next Generation of Volume Licensing (NGVL) or transformation of volume licensing, the initiative takes a multi-phased approach, which began and will continue to be driven by feedback from the different licensing communities–partners, customers, and Microsoft field.
NGVL then entered the pilot phase, for which SHI was proud to be one of the handful of participating partners across the globe. On Dec. 1, 2013 the initiative reached its current phase, a controlled, but broader, launch. This current phase is not the final product. We will likely see the transformation continue for some time to come.
Today’s offering, the Microsoft Products and Services Agreement (MPSA), is simple but clearly displays the three primary tenets of the transformation.
- Improved agreement structure. Through a single document, the MPSA broadens terms and conditions (T&Cs) while reducing contractual length. The MPSA T&Cs cover today’s Master Business and Services Agreement (MBSA), Select Plus Master Agreement, and Online Services Agreement. Additionally, these T&Cs make it easier for companies that cross multiple sectors to maintain a single agreement under which they can track assets.
- Flexible and easy purchasing. By combining the T&Cs of all these agreements, customers can now purchase both traditional, on-premises licensing and online services through the same contract vehicle. Prior to the MPSA, customers making an online services purchase needed to commit to an Enterprise Agreement (EA) or go off on their own to the online services portal.
- New systems and tools. As online services and hybrid environments proliferate, so do the complexities of licensing and managing those subscriptions, assets, and purchases. To keep up with the ever-changing business of licensing, Microsoft has created brand-new tools and back-end systems to support the various licensing communities and their changing licensing management needs.
As a licensing offering, the MPSA closely resembles the Select Plus Agreement. The MPSA and Select Plus are both evergreen agreements for transactional licensing for customers with 250 desktops or more. They include graduated pricing levels with a yearly compliance check.
Despite the similarities, there are some key differences in the MPSA offering.
- Customers can purchase legacy online services, like Exchange Hosted Encryption, and Microsoft cloud offerings, like Office 365, Intune, and other online plans. These subscriptions will be billed to the customer via their named reseller.
- Price-level compliance is still monitored annually, but there is an additional option to remain active. At the anniversary date, customers need to either maintain a 500-license-point minimum per pool or a 250-cloud-license count per pool — a stipulation that is advantageous to those companies leveraging online services in the user licensing model.
- Customers can self-provision their cloud subscriptions to allow business to continue seamlessly while billing details are worked out with partners.
- Purchases are divided into purchasing accounts defined by the customer. Organizations are no longer restricted to grouping by legal entities alone. Rather, the MPSA allows organizations to group their purchasing in the way that best fits their business, whether by legal entity, individual department, or a combination of groupings.
- Software Assurance is not yet offered under the MPSA, though it will be released into the program this year in the early fall.
- For the time being, the offering accommodates commercial businesses, but it will expand to the public sector in the future.
- The MPSA is not yet global. As part of the phased approach, availability is currently limited to the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, Poland, Denmark, and the Netherlands.
To view additional details on the MPSA, please reference the chart below.
If your company is a medium to large commercial organization interested in online services with no immediate need for Software Assurance, and it’s not currently considering Office 365 in the EA, then the MPSA might be the right Microsoft licensing vehicle for you. To evaluate the MPSA and other licensing options, please reach out to your SHI Account Executive.