For the love of Microsoft
Microsoft! The most complex ‘thing’ I have ever come across. Be it the type of partnerships they have or the programs under which they sell their products or the Licensing policies that imply on their products – it seems to be more complex than the anatomy of a human brain.
I always say that, Microsoft is not a thing, it’s a phenomenon!
Microsoft products can be purchased in more than the ways a knight can have options to move in an entire game of chess, e.g. their products can be purchased from an OEM Partner, COEM Partner, Refurbisher Partner, Embedded Systems Partner, ISV Partner, LSP (Partner), Value Added Reseller Partner, Distribution Partner, SPLA Partner, Dynamic Partner, Enterprise Partner, SMB Partner, etc.
If you want to buy a Microsoft product, you will need some introspection i.e. you will have to find which segment of the market you fall in Microsoft System. You will have to identify yourself. In their system, you could be an EPG customer, a CAM, a CTM, an SMB, a student, or an Academy, etc.
Then comes their programs under which the same product can be purchased, i.e. Preinstalled OEM, Preinstalled Channel, Paper License, etc.
After going through the hassles of whom to buy from and under which program to buy, the challenge still remains like what kind of licensing would be applicable to it, e.g. After figuring out your segment in Microsoft System and the Program that’s suits your organization best, you purchase a product called MS Project and start installing it, suddenly your system will display a message asking for the share point server, you suddenly feel cheated; you call-up the partner from whom you have purchased the MS Project and he says, “your purchase order doesn’t specify that you require Project with SharePoint”, then you struggle with the IT head and get approval for the share point, then you go through another round of convincing the CFO as to why you need it and how and why it was not budgeted. CFO gives an approval. Now at this stage you feel little comfortable and go to your procurement department to release the PO for the share point. You receive the share point license and again you find several emails from your techy guy who installs the SharePoint server. You will ask him, “what are you up to now?” and he will answer that, it’s asking for SQL server now. By this time all your energy is exhausted and there is no scope left for enhancing the budget. At this juncture you have enough emails from the project team who has to start a client project as there is an LD clause in the agreement from your customer.
You are fully exhausted; the condition of your mind is in an absolute mess.
Then suddenly an idea strikes you and you think, “what if we install the SQL and buy the licenses later?” this becomes the first word of the story line of non-compliance.
Then a frustrated employee or a partner finds it out and sends this info to Microsoft who in turn writes you a mail about a Software Asset Management Audit (SAM).
Then hundreds of Microsoft Partners start approaching you with the sales proposal of MS Licenses.
So what went wrong? Were your intentions not right? Or your SMB partner who was in a hurry to sell few licenses of MS Project or the lack of knowledge on your part or the mischievousness of Microsoft who created a scenario to trap you? We can discuss this later…
Once upon a time when I was in university, a close friend of mine got admission in law college and returned after his first day of the law class, I asked him, what did he learn on his first day of the Law College, he smiles and said, “you really seem to be interested in knowing so I will tell you, it was, “ignorantia juris non excusat”, I said, “I didn’t get you” then he told me that, it meant if you say that, you didn’t know the law, you are not to be excused.
The same maxim holds true for you too. If you tell MS that you didn’t know the licensing, you will not be spared – Hence, this blog!
The first step towards understanding Microsoft is to know your own organization as to which segment in MS your organization belongs to.
To enter into the heaven, you need a little help from God, similarly, if you want the best deal from Microsoft, you should know how to take help from gods at Microsoft.
There are different segmentations of the customer under volume licensing. It goes like this,
The EPG (Enterprise Product Group) which covers the largest enterprises that Microsoft manages directly. These large enterprises are managed by EPG Account Managers. Some of these large enterprises could be government, e.g. BPCL.
The PS (Public Sector) covers government, education and healthcare. Multiple MS teams handle them depending upon the size and type of the organization.
CA (Corporate Accounts), CA segment is again split into CAM (Corporate Account Managed) and CTM (Corporate Territory Managed).
CAM is again split into CAM and CAM PS. CAM consists of account managers who are handling roughly about 25 to 30 accounts dedicatedly.
CTM (Corporate Territory Managed) consists of an Account managers handling roughly about 250 accounts and they are supported by inside sales team and field sales team.
SMB (Small and Medium Businesses) is a division which typically covers a region with two resources, usually one handling the on premise products while the other looking after the cloud sales.
If you think that doing google will help. Never use this term, especially when you are talking to MS; don’t even think about it. Always say Bing instead. Using the term Google will invoke befall of curse upon you from the gods of Microsoft. But if you really want to Bing about your problem and go searching for answers to that question online, you’ll find a lot of half-truths and misrepresentations. Another thing, Microsoft has been the quickest enemy making companies in the world. Microsoft has made more than its fair share of enemies over the years. And, most of those enemies have blogs that enable them to share their enmity with the world which has impacted Microsoft a lot – Alas!
Microsoft has appointed region wise gods for all the segments. The EPG head is like the Greek god Ourea, which literally means mountains. The Ourea targets the enterprises that are at their peak in terms of size – Oh! Size… Am I missing something? Yes, the size plays a very important role, they call it PCIB (Personal Computer Installed Base), a significant factor for mapping and determining various aspects of the organization.
So, the EPG heads bring forth the business from the top enterprise accounts. The EPG customers usually go for an enterprise agreement. Unlike ‘Schindler’s List’ here the EPG team also has a ‘list’ containing all the Accounts from EPG. For an account mapping session, when the EPG head sits with his team and the LSP who has been given a ‘License to Sell’, he shows the LSP a top level view of the accounts they have to get engaged with, and they are so convincing that, they make LSP say, “Wow! What a view! To a kill”.
The similar kind of lists are given to CA segment as well. To the LSPs, a copy of these account lists are provided. Since customers from each segment like EPG, CAM, CTM are listed so whatever is left is called SMB.
After you have understood the segments, the second most significant step is to understand the pricing levels. Especially in Microsoft Volume Licensing Programs, the pricing levels, A, B, C and D are determined on volumes of your past buying. The level ‘A’ price is considered to be the highest while ‘D’ the lowest. It is important to note that, under certain programs, some levels don’t exist, e.g. in MOLP the level B doesn’t exist.
But the good news is that, Microsoft is simplifying now. Earlier if they had to say, ‘M’, they would not say ‘M’ like that, they would rather articulate it in a way somewhat like this, “M, which is the 13th letter of the modern English alphabet, the ISO basic Latin alphabet, derived from the Phoenician Mem, via the Greek μ. This also represents the bilabial nasal consonant sound in the orthography of Latin as well as in that of many modern languages, and also in the International Phonetic Alphabet. But now they are trying to say ‘M’ concise in ten words only.