Microsoft Gives CSP Partners Subscription Licensing Power For Azure Reserved VMs, Windows Server And SQL Server

Microsoft is giving its Cloud Solution Provider partners full access to Azure Reserved Virtual Machine Instances (RI), the company said Thursday. Microsoft also revealed that CSPs will be able to sell Windows Server and SQL Server subscriptions.

Business customers are demanding cheaper solutions for their predictable cloud workloads, and Azure RI, a one- or three-year pre-purchase of cloud compute resources, will help channel partners better address this need, according to Microsoft.

"Azure RI and server subscriptions in CSP deliver market-leading customer value, with customers enjoying significant savings (up to 80 percent) along with unmatched flexibility in deployment. This is combined with a partner-friendly business model that minimizes risk while maximizing profitability," Gavriella Schuster, Microsoft's channel chief, wrote in a blog post.

[Related: 5 Key Microsoft Announcements At Build 2018]

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For the channel, access to Azure RI and server subscriptions means more revenue, additional value-added offerings for their clients, and greater ownership over the customer relationship, according to the Redmond, Wash.-based company.

Microsoft has been transitioning its legacy licensing model for a few years now, with an emphasis on partners that are providing high levels of value to customers, said Reed Wiedower, CTO of New Signature, a Washington, D.C.-based Microsoft Azure partner.

"We’re definitely excited about the availability to transact Windows Server and SQL Server through the CSP Program," Wiedower told CRN.

According to Microsoft, providing Azure RI through the CSP program will net customers up to 72 percent in savings compared to pay-as-you-go Azure VM pricing. Windows Server customers with Software Assurance could save up to 80 percent versus pay-as-you-go pricing through Azure Hybrid Benefit, a program that lets customers use their on-premises Windows Server licenses and run Windows virtual machines on Azure at a reduced cost.

Many New Signature customers are in the midst of transitioning from on-premise systems to the cloud. While the solution provider has been able to help with the licensing process for these new cloud services, not having access to Windows Server or SQL Server meant that these clients often needed to complete two separate licensing transactions.

Adding these services to the CSP program lets partners own the end-to-end relationship with their customers, and can help make sure their customers are fully taking advantage of all their cloud services, Wiedower explained.

"Over time, we expect many customers with large Windows Server and SQL Server footprints will shift to the cloud, [but] until they are 100 percent cloud, this provides them an easy way to work with trusted partners," he said.

Microsoft's latest licensing approach combines cost savings with a simplified procurement and deployment process for customers. This translates to less time that partners have to spend on managing and pricing Azure RIs and server subscriptions for their customers, Schuster said.

This approach will serve both the vendor's, as well as partner's interests, New Signature's Wiedower added.

"By having the same partner transacting cloud services also work on on-premises licenses, there isn’t a tension where one group is saying; 'slow down and stay on-premises' and another is being more progressive in their outlook, which serves the customer poorly."