Microsoft is making simple work of changing Office 365 services with a new feature, "Switch Plans," which allows customers to change levels for features and capacity on their own.
Switch Plans, announced last summer and made generally available at the end of December, eliminates the manual process of reassigning users to new plans and calling Microsoft support to complete the switch. The wizard-driven feature walks users through the steps of changing plans to adjust options and capacity.
Businesses can now upgrade and downgrade their plans based on their needs. Microsoft says Switch Plan will automatically apply unused credit from the prior subscription to the new plan, making the financials seamless.
Switch Plan, found in the Office 365 Admin center, is designed for customers buying the cloud-based productivity suite direct from Microsoft. Customers working with solution providers have to contact their account representative to make subscription changes. The same process, though, is available to partners under the volume licensing terms of the Microsoft Products and Services Agreement (MPSA).
"Microsoft has long valued and depended upon its partner community and will continue to do so now and after MPSA is fully rolled out. The investment areas we have shared information about will provide partners with much improved systems and tools through which to grow their businesses moving forward. Microsoft is committed to its partner community and has collaborated with partners from the very start of the LEAP pilot program to help ensure we deliver a solution which is of value to the partner community and facilitate a smooth transition over time to employ the MPSA with all their deals," Microsoft said in a statement to Channelnomics.
Office 365 Switch Plans addresses the flexibility tenant of cloud computing, ensuring users aren't locked into a service plan that restricts their ability to operate effectively or economically. By simplifying the plan switching process, Microsoft is ensuring Office 365 users have the ability to adjust their plans to best meet their needs.
While this is good for customers, it could prove tricky for Microsoft and partners. Another core tenant of cloud computing is predictability. In theory, the recurring service fees generated by cloud computing subscriptions lead to predictable revenue and profits. Assuming subscriptions remain constant over a period of time, service providers are better able to budget for operations and anticipate returns. By giving customers more flexibility, they could disrupt the predictability of cloud services revenue.
The upside for solution providers is their customers don't have the Switch Plans option in their Office 365 package. Customers still have to call for plan adjustments. Solution providers have the opportunity to understand their customers' needs and, potentially, upsell other products and services.
For more US channel coverage from Channelnomics, visit www.channelnomics.com.
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