5 min read

Why Switching from EA to NCE is a Smart Move

microsoft enterprise licensing agreement

Back in October 2018, Microsoft announced the removal of programmatic volume discounts for Enterprise Agreement (EA) customers with less than 2,400 seats. The objective was to ensure consistent pricing across all procurement channels. As a result, 'Level A' EA customers now pay list price for their EA products unless they negotiate a discount with Microsoft. Unfortunately, over the past few years, Microsoft has made EA discounts harder to negotiate so many EA customers seeking to save money at renewal face the challenge of being pressured to purchase more services than they need. In most cases Microsoft will not budge on providing a discount unless the customer invests in a substantial number of products in the Microsoft 365 E5 Suite. Moving to M365 E5 is not feasible for many organizations due to the high price tag ($57.00 per user per month MSRP) and the significant investment in time it takes to implement the advanced suites of products. 

The good news is organizations now have better options! Microsoft has a new program that allows organizations to renew their licenses directly with a Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) partner. A high-quality CSP partner such as CloudServus understands that price negotiations can be a pain-point which is why we offer a simplified, aggressive, and reliable discount without forcing customers to take on unnecessary products before they are ready. CloudServus recognizes the importance of meeting the unique needs of each customer and offers flexible and scalable solutions that align with the specific requirements of their business.  

Let’s dive into more details about this new program. Microsoft introduced what is now known as the Microsoft New Commerce Experience (NCE) several years ago. NCE offers organizations many of the same great benefits they were used to with EA but with more flexibility and better support. By leveraging NCE, organizations can streamline their procurement process by purchasing licenses directly from a Microsoft CSP partner. This offers several advantages, including access to better pricing and value-added services such as licensing assessments, and ensuring that your organization is procuring the best Office 365 plans under the right NCE term.  

A comprehensive review of your licensing usage and needs prior to renewal can help your organization maximize the benefits of the NCE program, while optimizing your licensing costs and enhancing your overall productivity. Predictable discounting on licensing will provide some savings, however, we’ve found we uncover greater, sustainable cost savings through user profiling.  

Our experts at CloudServus can help with this! By outlining your user’s profile, we help ensure each employee is licensed with the best and most cost-effective plan to fit their unique needs. For instance, if your organization has shift workers sharing devices, a Microsoft Frontline Worker plan could be the ideal solution. If your organization needs additional security to protect applications such as Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, and OneDrive, you may want to consider M365 E5 Security as an add-on to M365 E3. There are numerous ways to obtain the combination of Office 365 products that your organization needs.  Choosing a partner with the technical expertise and licensing knowledge to help you build the proper user profiles and customize your Office 365 product selection according to the needs of your organization is crucial to optimizing spend. 

But wait there’s more! Here are all the great benefits of NCE: 

  • Flexibility – Strict Microsoft Enterprise Agreement terms & conditions make it exceedingly difficult to adjust quantities and products within the 3-year term. In today’s economic climate it’s nearly impossible for organizations to predict what will happen in the next 3 years. NCE allows organizations flexibility with annual planning. NCE customers can decrease quantities each year if needed.  If the organization needs even more flexibility due to budgets, seasonality, workforce changes, or business risk, a month-to-month commitment term is available. The wonderful thing about NCE is that your organization can have both a monthly commitment term and an annual commitment term at the same time to accommodate the needs of the business.  
  • Partner choice – Enterprise Agreements can only be processed and supported by a handful of Microsoft partners who are typically large resellers. Due to the reduction in fees these large resellers receive on the backend from Microsoft, they no longer invest in the resources required to specialize in Microsoft. In fact, many of these large resellers view Microsoft licensing sales as a loss leader and have focused instead on re-selling other hardware and software. At CloudServus, we believe your organization deserves better.  Microsoft is what we do, which allows us to invest the time to create custom solutions for our licensing customers and optimize licensing throughout our partnership.  NCE has opened the licensing landscape to partners who specialize in Microsoft and can offer a more personalized level of service. The licensing experts at CloudServus have decades of experience in the complexities of Microsoft licensing and are here to simplify it for you. Our experts take a proactive approach to analyzing your current Microsoft licensing footprint and understanding the needs of your organization. In addition, we keep you informed about Microsoft licensing updates and major product announcements that could impact your organization the moment we hear about them. 

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  • Price protection – If your organization commits to a 1 year NCE term, there is a 20% cost advantage to doing so.  In addition, prices of the O365 plans purchased are protected for the length of the term. Licenses can be added at any time, and to help simplify things, the added licenses will be co-termed to one end-date. With NCE, your organization also has the option to upgrade from a lower-paid O365 plan to a higher-paid plan in the middle of your commitment term. For instance, if your organization has grown beyond the 300-seat capacity of the Microsoft 365 Business Premium plan, you can easily upgrade some or all of the users to the more robust Microsoft 365 E3 plan. This flexibility ensures that your organization can scale its Microsoft licensing as needed.  
  • Support – Microsoft announced last year that as of February 2023 EA customers will no longer receive 24x7 Problem Resolution Support incidents as part of their Software Assurance benefits. This forced EA customers to use standard Microsoft support.  This has lead to frustration due to lengthy wait times and limited support for complex issues. Under the EA, Microsoft does offer an option to purchase Microsoft Unified Support, but it is quite costly and requires the organization to sign a long-term contract. O365 licenses purchased on NCE however includes support.  As a high-quality CSP partner and consultancy, CloudServus aims to drastically improve a customer’s support experience by fielding tickets through a US-based team of experts. If escalation to Microsoft is required to resolve the issue, CloudServus offers a Microsoft Premier Support contract at no additional cost to customers.  This provides priority access to Microsoft’s technical support resources, including product specialists and engineers.  
  • Self-Service portal – EA customers often face challenges managing their licenses across multiple portals, which can be confusing and time-consuming. Typically, they must navigate separate portals to manage O365 subscriptions, view perpetual licenses, and add O365 licenses. NCE empowers partners to develop tailored self-service portals that enable their customers to manage their licenses efficiently. Customers can use the self-service portal to perform a variety of tasks, such as checking their O365 license counts, adding or removing O365 licenses, viewing commitment end dates, reviewing Azure usage, and accessing partner websites for up-to-date information on product releases, licensing updates, tech trends, and helpful tips and tricks.  
  • Billing – Microsoft invoices can be complicated. Since EA invoices are created and sent directly from Microsoft, the large reseller managing the EA has limited understanding of billing policies and processes. These large resellers will often direct the customer to contact a Microsoft billing support email alias for assistance with invoice questions or discrepancies. This can become very frustrating for the EA customer. With the NCE program, since the CSP partner is billing the customer directly, they can easily jump on a call to help answer billing questions or work with the customer to customize their monthly or annual invoice. Does your organization have multiple divisions that need Azure resources to be billed back, and you want your Azure invoice itemized by Azure subscriptions? No problem, a knowledgeable partner like CloudServus can make that happen!  
  • Product Availability - Microsoft continues to expand their product offerings on NCE. Today, organizations can procure all O365 plans under NCE in addition to Dynamics 365, Power Platform, and Windows 365. Server subscriptions for Windows Server, SQL Server as well as Client Access Licenses (CALs) are also offered on NCE, and System Center will soon be as well. Server subscriptions now offer all of the same Software Assurance benefits customers are used to such as New Version Rights, Azure Hybrid Benefit, and the new Flexible Virtualization Benefit which allows the licenses to be used on authorized outsourcers’ dedicated or shared servers.  

At CloudServus, we understand that Microsoft licensing can be a significant expense for your IT budget. That's why we're dedicated to helping you make the most of your investment. Our team of licensing strategists has expert knowledge of licensing, programs, and products, and we can help you cut costs and simplify your licensing. We take a comprehensive approach to assess your current licensing and provide tailored recommendations to ensure you're getting the most out of your investments. As a triple-Gold Microsoft partner, we offer high-level consulting services that bring licensing, product, and professional services conversations together under one trusted partner. Contact CloudServus today for a thorough Microsoft licensing assessment and start maximizing your savings. 

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