Starting in November, Microsoft solution providers can move public sector subscriptions to the vendor’s controversial new commerce experience platform – and two months later, Microsoft itself will start to migrate any remaining legacy seat-based subscriptions for private and public sector customers.
Microsoft will automatically move those remaining legacy offers to annual NCE commitments, and solution providers will have seven days to change subscription terms, the quantity or to cancel subscriptions, according to the Redmond, Wash.-based vendor.
“We know that managing customers’ business on two platforms is burdensome,” according to the Microsoft post about the deadlines. “Based on partner requests for help, from January 2024, Microsoft will begin migrating commercial legacy seat-based subscriptions to new commerce.”
More Microsoft NCE Deadlines
The post continues: “We recommend that you manage your customers’ migrations. If your customers want monthly subscription terms in new commerce instead of annual terms, you should migrate them before the legacy subscriptions reach their end of term in 2024.”ADVERTISEMENT
CRN has reached out to Microsoft for further comment.
Microsoft also announced that for multi-year offers – such as six-year education stock-keeping units (SKUs) – solution providers can start migrating legacy offers on their own when the offers are published in the legacy offer matrix, according to Microsoft.
As part of the new deadlines announcement, Microsoft said it will also migrate the mult-year legacy offers itself on the subscription renewal date in 2024, 2025 and beyond.
Michael Goldstein, CEO of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Microsoft solution provider LAN Infotech – a member of CRN’s 2023 Managed Service Provider 500 with customers in the academic, government and nonprofit spaces – told CRN in an interview that he’s not surprised by the deadlines.
“This was expected,” Goldstein said. “That way, all industries-type licenses are under the same rules for NCE.”
Goldstein’s team has moved all applicable clients to NCE by this point, he said.
Migration to NCE is “not the easiest,” Goldstein said. “But this now makes the license program consistent.”
Robby Hill – CEO of Florence, S.C.-based Microsoft partner HillSouth IT Solutions, which works with public sector customers – told CRN in an interview that he has moved all applicable clients over to NCE by this point.
But he said the deadlines add to the stress solution providers are experiencing as they continue to work through changes under the new Microsoft AI Cloud Partner Program (MACPP) – itself a rechristening of the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program (MCPP) that launched in October.
“We’re all having to get ready to get new certifications, meet new metrics, just to get a renewal in the partner program this next year,” he said. “That’s something I’m gearing up for that’s heavy on my radar – that I’m considered a legacy partner … even with all the business I do, until such time as I go through the steps of this entirely new partner program they’ve unveiled with all new terminology.”
More of Hill’s customers opting for annual commitments under NCE instead of month-to-month ones has helped with lowering customer churn, he said. But he remains concerned about some of the issues presented when customers are in an annual commitment.
If the customer goes out of business or has a layoff, the solution provider is potentially left paying for unused licenses. And if HillSouth wins a new customer already in an annual commitment with a different solution provider, now HillSouth and the former solution provider have to work out offboarding.
Hill has already had one customer get acquired – meaning that the customer might not need the same number of licenses looking ahead. Fortunately for Hill, the buyer was already a Microsoft user.
“This is the world Microsoft’s created for us,” he said.
In a recent interview with Nicole Dezen – Microsoft’s chief partner officer and corporate vice president for the Global Partner Solutions (GPS) group – when asked by CRN about any changes to the issue of license portability under NCE, she said, “We’re always assessing our policies to make sure that we’re doing the right thing for the business, for customers and for our partners.”
“I’m really pleased with our progress on NCE,” she said. “And I applaud our partners for doing great work with us. It’s been a meaningful transition for our partners, for their customers. And I feel really good about the progress we’ve made.”
Two Upcoming Deadlines
The November NCE deadline applies to new and renewing academic, government community cloud GCC, not-for-profit (NFP), charity and other public sector customers, according to Microsoft.
For public sector and private sector offers not moved to NCE by January, Microsoft will migrate legacy offers in the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program to an annual NCE term with the same billing plan and seat counts.
If customers want month-to-month NCE terms, solution providers should migrate subscriptions before the 2024 renewal date to have greater control over terms, seat counts and other details, according to Microsoft.
In 2024, Microsoft will share a timeline for migrating all remaining legacy offers in the CSP program.
Migration itself usually takes up to six hours depending on attributes edited within the request and the quantity of requests submitted at a time through Partner Center, according to Microsoft. Some cases can take up to 72 hours.
Most commercial license-based product SKUs have only been available in NCE since March 2022, according to Microsoft.
Microsoft NCE Resources
To help solution providers, Microsoft will offer technical training sessions and online webinars in October, November and December. A schedule will come in September.
Solution providers can confirm that customer subscriptions are available for migration in the legacy offer matrix, according to Microsoft.
Wade Tyler Millward is an associate editor covering cloud computing and the channel partner programs of Microsoft, IBM, Red Hat, Oracle, Salesforce, Citrix and other cloud vendors. He can be reached at [email protected].
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