What You Need to Know About the Latest Microsoft SA Changes

Jennifer Gibson-Kautz

Microsoft has announced changes to the Software Assurance benefits that are connected to MPSA and EA agreements. As a Microsoft Concierge at Connection, I talk to Microsoft customers quite regularly regarding their Software Assurance benefits. It is my responsibility to make sure that these benefits are being utilized to their fullest potential.

I have a unique role in which I maintain customer relationships together with the Microsoft Solutions Specialists. I act as the guide for the benefits associated with the MPSA and EA programs, helping to manage the licensing portals as well as other tasks surrounding the license contracts. As a combined team, we are sure to support our customers’ needs for their licenses and management of their agreements. I’ve been the Microsoft Concierge for two sites here at Connection for close to two years. We regularly see changes and updates from Microsoft on different products. Most recently, Microsoft has notified us that training vouchers, deployment planning days, and 24×7 support as we know them are being discontinued.

The following summary highlights the key changes with the associated dates. Microsoft is taking a phased approach in discontinuing them, so our customers have a smooth transition.

Related: Optimize your Microsoft Ecosystem

Training Vouchers Are Being Disabled

Until January 31, 2020, you can redeem your training vouchers towards the training courses of any product groups. Starting June 30, 2021, all training on Azure will no longer be supported by the current training centers that take vouchers. All Azure training will be directed to Microsoft’s Azure learning site.

Training vouchers will accrue until January 31, 2021. Moving forward, those accrued vouchers will be able to be enrolled and activated until January 1,  2022. After June 30, 2021, Microsoft is removing the training voucher benefit all together. You will then have full access to the Microsoft Learn training site. No existing or new contract will accrue training days as part of their SA benefits after February 1, 2012, but will have until February 1, 2022 to utilize the vouchers.  

Deployment and Planning Services Are Being Retired Altogether

Beginning June 30, 2021, Deployment and Planning Services (DPS) via the cloud will be retired, and all cloud customers will be directed to FastTrack programs. Training voucher days will no longer be able to be converted to Planning days. On June 30, 2021, you will no longer acquire Deployment and Planning Service days. However, current customers can continue to use any accrued DPS days until January 1,  2022.

Update: Microsoft has made some adjustments to the original DPS Benefits voucher timeline. Cloud vouchers should be assigned by February 1, 2020 and executed within six months of activation.

24×7 Support Instances Are Changing

The current process for initiating 24×7 support has caused much confusion, and many customers have not used what was owed to them, or not understood the process. Customers were frustrated by the lack of support, or the inconsistency of the ability to submit a ticket for assistance. Microsoft will be changing the process dramatically.

Beginning February 1, 2022, Microsoft will provide as-needed support within 24 hours for eligible customers who spend $250,000/year or more on licenses with SA. Those with less than that threshold will be able to purchase support packages.

There are also changes to converting support incidents from Premier to Unified Support. On January 31, 2022, the support incidents can longer be converted. Starting on this date, customers will receive a credit toward their Unified Support agreement at each subsequent renewal.

Additionally, Microsoft is further extending Software Assurance Problem Resolution Support grace period from February 2022 to early 2023. The exact date will be announced later.

What Does This Mean for You?

The new plans for SA benefits are all meant to eliminate programs that went underutilized—and sometimes ignored and forgotten. While the major change with training vouchers are the most dramatic, you will now have access to free training from Microsoft that is offered in a more flexible manner. The removal of Azure training from the training vendors programs happens on June 30, 2021. Customers have less than six months to enroll and activate the training vouchers with the certified education centers. We recommend you put together a training plan for your Azure users immediately and redeem those training vouchers as soon as you can.

Although these changes appear to be sweeping and coming upon us with no warning, there are a few things to consider. If you break down and analyze these changes, the end users won’t be affected by the biggest changes until February 1, 2021. All the benefits except for the DPS benefits must be used by 2022. There is still plenty of time to use the benefits.

The Microsoft Concierge team will continue to work with the Microsoft Specialists and Account Managers to help our customers navigate through their benefits. The transition to the new offerings may be disconcerting, but we are here you to help you understand these upcoming changes.

Please reach out to your Account Managers, Microsoft Solution Specialists, or Microsoft Concierges if you have any questions.

Jennifer writes about her experience in customer service and software licensing. She is also a Microsoft Certified Professional. In her free time, Jennifer raises chicken and ducks for egg production and enjoys traveling.