The Increasing Cost of Cloud Productivity

Microsoft have looked to increase profitability of their cloud business, pivoting their partner ecosystem towards cloud adoption, management and support services, and away from licensing solutions and the associated cost of personnel, rebates and incentives. This has been successful, with profits increasing to a reported 49% profitability for cloud services in earning reports to investors.

Accordingly, providing independent consultancy on the rapid release cadence of the Microsoft solutions and services portfolio and associated pricing and licensing schema has evolved from a nascent venture to a key component of the enterprise toolkit with increasing demand.

Why the demand? It’s partly a matter of trust and complexity, in a recent  survey of 20 enterprise businesses, respondents stated the following about their EA (Enterprise Agreement) renewal experience when assessing their commitment to the Microsoft solutions and services portfolio:-

  • 69% are not confident they will get a good deal at renewal
  • 69% do not believe Microsoft balance their strategic priorities with their customers goals
  • 23% of business decision-makers trust the licensing advice provided by Microsoft.
  • 62% expect to be audited by Microsoft if they do not meet their strategic, or financial spend objectives
  • 85% believe licensing complexity is increasing, not decreasing.
  • 62% increasingly see the cost of licensing impacting technology decisions
  • 38% of respondents agree Microsoft understand their business.

(Survey, February-March 2017, 20 respondents with between 500 and 100,000+ end-users)

It’s also down to increasing cloud spend. Microsoft commercial and contractual models have developed to enable an increasingly profitable productivity solutions and services portfolio.  The graph below, illustrates the ‘rising cost of productivity’ solutions from Microsoft. The Secure Productivity Enterprise E5 led sales strategy promises a much greater profitability per user for Microsoft over the next renewal cycle, driving increasing costs, with no indication the trend is abating. Microsoft investors are understandably sensitive to the profitability of their cloud strategy, with 49% profitability driving cost savings through both discount attrition, and channel rebates reduction, and the re-pivoting of the licensing ecosystem towards independent services like CSP (Cloud Solution Partners). The Secure Productivity Enterprise E5 offering promises an highly profitable subscription annuity business for Microsoft, securing long term revenue and lock-in via an expansive commercial package.

[Chart: For illustration and informational purposes only. The costs do not account for inflation. Pricing is based on EA UK GBP price list from December 2008 to January 2017]

Accordingly, there is increasing pressure on software buyers to control cloud spend, with demand for value realisation and clarity on the licensing TCO of cloud services. Accordingly, independent advice and data supported insights can provide enterprises with confidence and clarity as they commit to the next wave of Microsoft products.

It’s an opportunity for leaders in the market, to provide independent services offering intelligence insights,  digital platforms and adaptive sourcing, and cloud spend management services to answer the demands of the digital business.

Thanks All


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This website is a way to give back to the licensing community and as an information resource for all customers that work with Microsoft software and licensing. I hope you find it of value.

Tony Mackelworth is Head of Microsoft Advisory Services at SoftwareONE

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