Microsoft Changes Enterprise Volume Licensing Program; Analyst Says Some Customers Could See Price Hike

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Microsoft is making some changes to its Enterprise Agreement (EA) volume licensing program with a goal of getting more customers using two of its newer programs. 
Starting July 1, Microsoft will be raising its minimum EA commitment for customers from 250 users or devices to 500 users or devices, Mark Nowlan, director of licensing marketing in Microsoft's Worldwide Licensing and Pricing unit, said in a recent interview. 
The change applies to commercial customers that sign new Enterprise Enrollments or Enterprise Subscription Enrollments, he said. 
Nowlan said Microsoft will be "guiding" customers with fewer than 500 users or devices to its Microsoft Product and Services Agreement (MPSA) and the Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) licensing programs. 
The MPSA, which debuted in 2014, lets customers buy on-premises software and cloud services together in a single agreement, while also picking and choosing only the products they need. Unlike the EA, the MPSA doesn't lock customers into a contract. 
Microsoft's Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program lets distributors, MSPs, ISVs and hosting providers directly provision cloud services and handle technical support for customers. In the CSP, partners maintain a direct billing relationship with customers.
"We've built these two programs to such a degree that their features and capabilities now fully meet the needs of most customers that fall under a certain number of users and devices," Nowlan told CRN. 
Alex Dubec, Enterprise Agreement program manager, Worldwide Licensing and Pricing, said current EA customers that want to stay with the program will have the option of extending their contracts for 36 months once they expire. 
Microsoft is essentially ending its EA program and replacing it with the MPSA and CSP programs, Jeff Muscarella, partner at NPI, an Atlanta-based firm that helps companies manage Microsoft licensing, told CRN. 
"Microsoft’s justification makes sense -- as more customers transition to the cloud while still maintaining on-premise investments, they need a more simplified and flexible way to purchase Microsoft's products and services," Muscarella said. 
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