Come February, Redmond will be ending pay-as-you-go Azure access for new customers on the Microsoft Products and Services Agreement, as it turns to channel partners to win small customers who are floating away.
Existing customers currently purchasing Azure on a pay-as-you-go basis through the MPSA will be allowed to continue to do so, but new customers seeking the payment plan will be "guided" towards Microsoft's Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) programme.
The changes were blogged by Richard Smith, Microsoft's general manager for commercial licensing, who wrote that the new licensing focus was a matter of "enhancing and creating synergies" across the ways in which it goes to business.
This, inevitably, has been taken as a very welcome move by Microsoft's channel partners. Customers seeking to dip their toes into Azure on a PAYG basis will now need to go through them.
"Microsoft encouraging customers to you use the CSP programme is a natural and logical progression for channel partners," Mitchell Feldman, chief digital officer at RedPixie, told The Register.
Tim Wallace, CEO at Content and Code, told The Register "I don’t think the move is the result of a financial interest on Microsoft's part as they [it] will not make any more money selling through CSP."
While resellers say there is no pricing difference between the MPSA and CSP, The Register was told that pay-as-you-go customers under the MPSA were often not utilising the full service they had access to. However, by requiring such small customers to go through a reseller, the likelihood of them being committed to a reseller's vision of the life-cycle of an Azure deployment is increased.
Feldman explained that the problem with the pay-as-you-go model was that "the client uses Azure at their own leisure and skillsets vary between customers".
This ultimately means that a large proportion of customers don't really get to enjoy the true benefits of the Azure cloud due to lack of skills and often projects fail or don't get past proof of concepts.
By encouraging customers to work with partners via the CSP programme, it will mean that there is a far greater chance of success and ultimately a greater consumption of services from the Cloud. This means the customer gets a better outcome and Microsoft support their channel partners. For me this is a win win situation for everyone.
This was acknowledged by Wallace, who added: "It's a smart move on Microsoft's part as it will drive more customers to fully use Azure and get far more value from the service. Through the CSP model, there is a dedicated partner who can help them and support them to get the most out of the huge offering that is Azure." ®