Microsoft will roll out a new way for customers to purchase Azure services directly by June at the latest, in a move set to impact partners across Australia, but not New Zealand*.
Under the banner of Microsoft Customer Agreement, the new approach has been viewed by many as bypassing the channel in favour of increasing end-user adoption directly.
Despite assurances to the contrary from the tech giant, in most cases, the move removes partners from the buying process.
“We are simply giving choice to the customer, and improving an already low-value function in the license transaction, while still relying on our partnerships to drive value,” said Toby Richards, general manager of partner go-to-market and programs at Microsoft.
Speaking exclusively to ARN and Reseller News, Richards confirmed that the new agreement will be available in the first half of calendar 2019 locally, by 30 June at the latest.
Reseller News now understands that the release impacts Australia only, and not New Zealand, following clarification from the vendor's Kiwi office.
“While we believe in customer choice in how they want to transact with Microsoft (via our field, self-serve, or through partners via CSP), our partner strategy is embedded throughout all three,” Richards added.
“This new approach recognises and rewards partner contribution throughout the entire lifecycle (from pre-sales to post-sales success), as we know that customers consume 6x more Azure when a partner is engaged.”
As reported by ARN, the direct play will also provide access to a “single offer catalog”, housing first- and third-party Microsoft products and services through a new marketplace experience, in addition to an 11-page digitally stored Microsoft Customer Agreement.
Further benefits for customers include “consistent purchasing and management experiences”, irrespective of whether businesses buy through partners, the web portal, or directly through their Microsoft account teams.
As suggested by ARN at the time, the move is likely to send shockwaves across the channel both locally and globally, as partners battle for relevance with the industry’s largest channel-facing vendor.
Yet despite the side-step, Microsoft was quick to insist that partners will still play a “critical role” in this new commerce model.
“They’ll continue to provide customers with up-front assistance, offer value-added services, and deliver differentiated solutions combined with Microsoft products and services,” the statement read. “Our partners will be foundational in helping our customers to innovate and thrive.”
*This article was updated on Friday 8 February, after incorrectly reporting that the new Microsoft Customer Agreement impacted the New Zealand market. Microsoft New Zealand confirmed to Reseller News that this does not impact Kiwi partners.