In November 2019 Microsoft launched its ‘new commerce experience’ for Azure in its Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program. Now, the company has laid out its timeline for phase-out of the old Azure CSP commerce ‘offer’ the new experience was supposed to replace.
As a reminder, the Azure CSP commerce platform updates, originally slated for an October 2019 release, were designed to introduce greater product alignment and a common pricing engine across how customers buy Azure, among other stated benefits for partners and customers alike.
The 2019 additions to the Azure CSP program followed the announcement in June that same year that the updated Azure CSP program would feature a single, discounted pricing in American dollars.
Broadly, it is hoped the new Microsoft commerce experience, once fully phased in, will create a consistent and simplified purchase experience for customers and enable them to digitally transform, with greater flexibility in how and where they buy.
When Microsoft first launched the new commerce platform and model, it flagged that the updated Azure CSP program would be available alongside the pre-existing program and its platform for “several months,” giving users ample time to integrate the updated features into their work process.
Microsoft has now committed to a phased approach to accomplish a final transition for partners from the old model to the new ‘experience’.
“While the new Azure offer in the Cloud Solution Provider program (Azure plan) provides partners and customers with an improved experience, we want to give partners time to incorporate the new Azure features with their services and transition their customers to the new experience,” the company said in a blog post.
“Given this, we will be taking a phased approach to changing the availability of the previous Azure offer in the Cloud Solution Provider program.
“This phased-approach centres on progressive change, delivering the key benefits of new commerce in the Cloud Solution Provider program with minimal disruption,” the company stated.
The process will involve three phases, with phase one starting on July 21, 2021. For phases two and three, Microsoft plans to inform partners at least six months in advance before the start of each of these phases so they can prepare their customers for the impending changes.
Phase one, kicking off in July, will see all new Azure business in the CSP program transact on the new commerce platform via the Azure plan offer.
For all existing reseller relationships between partners and customers in the CSP program, if the customer has already purchased the previous Azure offer, the partner will be able to continue to transact, with the customer able continue to purchase the previous Azure offer from that partner.
However, the previous Azure offer will no longer be available to net-new partners transacting in the CSP program, nor will it be available to net-new customers purchasing via a partner in the CSP program.
For all new reseller relationships or new customer acquisitions, meanwhile, partners will only be able to transact the new Azure plan offer.
Moreover, for all existing reseller relationships between partners and customers, if the customer has never purchased Azure before, the partner will only be able to transact, and the customer may only purchase the new Azure offer from that partner.
Phase two, set for calendar year 2022, will introduce the removal of partner margin opportunity and incentives on the previous Azure offer in the CSP program.
Phase three, which is yet to be assigned with a firm start date, will see Microsoft remove the availability of the previous Azure offer in the CSP program for existing partners and customers.
According to Dan Truax, general manager of partner digital experiences and programs, One Commercial Partner, once fully launched, the updated commerce platform and model will enable partners to participate through sales motions for larger enterprise customers as well as small and medium companies.
It will also give partners opportunities to expand their participation to drive customer success, he said in a blog post.
“With the new commerce experience, partners get recognised for differentiated value-added services on an ongoing basis through the partner earned credit model,” Truax said. “Partner-earned credit rewards partners who focus on driving customer success via value-added services that generate sustainable profitability.
“We are confident the new Azure offer in the Cloud Solution Program will facilitate a more streamlined and straightforward experience for partners and ultimately help you deliver more for your customers,” he added.