Microsoft pledges “highest-value support available” standard with Azure

By:  Dann Anthony Maurno

Microsoft on its Azure blog has announced changes to Azure Standard support, claiming that Azure  “now offers the most cost effective and predictable support offering amongst major cloud providers.”

What’s different?

  • A significant price cut from $300 USD per month to $100 USD per month for eligible Azure customers, being those who purchased (or plan to purchase) Azure Standard support directly from Azure.com, under the Microsoft Online Subscription Agreement
  • A shortened initial response time for Severity A (critical support) cases from 2 hours to 1 hour; applies to all Azure Standard support customers (but excludes Azure Germany)

Eligible Azure Standard support customers need take no action; they will see a $300 USD per month charge, but receive a credit of $200 USD per month for the remaining duration of their terms. This takes effect with the next billing period, after which, the $100 price will be billed.

This is clearly an aggressive bid to compete with Amazon Web Services (AWS), with its support plans starting at $100, with one-hour response times; and Google Cloud Platform, starting at $150 but with a four-hour response time for critical cases, as CRN reports.

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No desperation move, but a response to the market

This change in support pricing is not the first adjustment by Microsoft in recent months; as MSDW reported in October, Microsoft announced tiered price cuts for Azure, lowering prices on some of its most popular virtual machines (VMs).

Both moves seem based on Microsoft learning what the market will bear. It seemed that Azure had priced out both Microsoft partners and customers, 51 percent of which found Azure “Too expensive, not cost effective,” in an informal MSDynamicsWorld poll run in 2017. The same straw poll revealed that just 16 percent of MSDW readers believed Azure worth the cost for non-production scenarios (e.g., tests and demos).

But, is this a “race-to-the-bottom” price war with AWS and Google?

Hardly. As Microsoft’s new leader of One Commercial Partner (OCP), Gavriella Schuster told partners last week, Microsoft since July 2017 has invested $250 million in incentives for its internal sales force on “co-sells” with partners; and that those seller incentives (10 percent of a partner’s annual contract value) are tied to Azure consumption.

Recalling that the new pricing applies to new customers as well as existing, Microsoft provides a link to buy Azure Standard support now.

About Dann Anthony Maurno

Dann Anthony Maurno is a seasoned business journalist who began his career as International Marketing Manager with Lilly Software, then moved on as a freelancer to write for such prestigious clients as CFO Magazine; Compliance Week;Manufacturing Business Technology; Decision Resources, Inc.; The Economist Intelligence Unit; and corporate clients such as Iron Mountain, Microsoft and SAP. He is the co-author of Thin Air: How Wireless Technology Supports Lean Initiatives(CRC/Productivity Press, 2010).

Dann can be reached at [email protected].