It’s no secret that Microsoft® is betting heavily on their ability to not only leverage the explosive growth in cloud computing, but to lead it as well. As is typically the case with the software giant, they are attempting to dictate terms and influence the manner in which customers license their products. Since Azure® is the core of Microsoft’s cloud computing and services business, it comes as no surprise that they are fine tuning the ways in which we may purchase licenses.
Historically, new Azure customers could purchase through the Microsoft Products and Services Agreement (MPSA), and do so on a pay-as-you-go basis. Beginning on February 1, 2017, new Azure pay-as-you-go customers will no longer have that option, but are now required to purchase through the Cloud Service Provider (CSP) program. A fundamental difference between MPSA and CSP is that the CSP requires that the customer work with a channel partner for the transaction, whereas they could go directly to the Microsoft Volume Licensing Center (MVLC) for MPSA.
Microsoft is promoting the change as a way to enhance and create synergies between the customer and the channel partner(s), but it’s hard to ignore the fact that by mandating interaction with a reseller, it introduces opportunities for additional sales pressure and the introduction of products and services the customer may not want. To be fair, there are many customers who will benefit from the expertise of a well-qualified reseller, particularly with a relatively new platform such as Azure, but for well-educated new customers who know what they want, they may no longer purchase pay-as-you-go Azure from the MVLC.
Customers who were buying pay-as-you-go Azure from the MVLC before February 1, 2017 may continue to do so. Pricing is said to be the same, whether under the CSP or the MPSA.