Microsoft Pitching New Volume Licensing Program As Customers' On-Ramp To The Cloud

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With the MPSA, Microsoft has fresh figures with which to dazzle licensing-weary customers. While Microsoft's Select Plus agreement is 37 pages long, the MSPA -- which is replacing it -- is just seven pages. This is because Microsoft used simpler language and cut out duplication in the wording of the agreement, Smith said.

The MPSA reduces the number of steps needed to complete an agreement by 70 percent, which comes from eliminating manual decisions that used to be required, Smith said.

Customers can save time by consolidating their agreements using the MPSA. Smith said one early beta customer was able to save an entire day out of their week by switching to the MPSA, and he said Microsoft expects other customers to see similar time-savings.

Microsoft also studied competitors' licensing agreements when developing the MPSA. Smith said Microsoft was inspired by one rival in the desktop market whose licensing agreement is only 10 pages long.

Microsoft, Redmond, Wash., started mapping out its MPSA plans more than two years ago in conjunction with its licensing partners. Insight, a $5 billion global Microsoft partner listed at No. 483 on the 2014 Fortune 500, has been involved with the MPSA since the get-go.

Caroline Hinton, a vice president who oversees Microsoft licensing at Insight, Tempe, Ariz., sees the MPSA as a better way for its customers to buy licensing from Microsoft. Insight's clients typically have numerous lines of business, and the MPSA lets them take advantage of volume discounts across their organization, she said.

While EAs are more standardized across organizations, the MPSA lets clients pick and choose what products they want, according to Hinton. "With the shift to hybrid environments with cloud and on-premise, the MPSA is a great bridge for that," she told CRN.

It's important to note that only Microsoft large account resellers -- which Microsoft calls Licensing Solution Providers, or LSPs -- are authorized to sell the MPSA. There are about 400 Microsoft LSPs around the world, with 120 of them in the 13 markets where the MPSA is currently available, according to Microsoft.

Amy Konary, an IDC research vice president focused on software pricing and licensing, told CRN the main advantage of the MPSA is that it replaces multiple agreements that customers used to have to manage separately.

Konary, who has spoken with Microsoft partners about the MPSA, said it's helping them generate quotes for customers more quickly than they've been able to do in the past.

"Microsoft is really pushing for customers to have the flexibility to buy on-premise or cloud software," Konary said. "Everything you buy -- whether it's an online service or on-premise software, through a transactional or volume purchase, all ties to that single agreement."

NEXT: The Microsoft Volume Licensing Center

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