There are times when it comes to Software Assurance I feel like Nicole Kidman… no.. seriously… I’m Nicole… and Microsoft is Tom Cruise over there… got a new girlfriend/future wife… new baby …and where does that leave me?  I’m the original one who believed in Software Assurance…bought into it… got the Koolaid from the initial day, got the two year, and then the three year… and now it looks like my SA reward for my three year period…the “upgrade” I’ll get is the SBS 2003 R2 upgrade.  I mean yeah I’m a patchaholic and all that…. and the green check in the daily email is very cool….but ..uh… um….kinda a Nicole moment here ‘eh?

 “SA is a hard sell”

It is isn’t it?

True statement by a Var/Vap about Software assurance…that he had a hard time selling it…

In my industry I’m used to subscription models, but it’s a guarantee that every year or month or quarter I’ll get a new update (law changes and what not), as there were changes needed for that ..but not necessarily function changes.  And support under this model was built in.  But for other industries… where the upgrade story isn’t as obvious, it’s a tough sell…

But what if you are the “Katie” in this view of looking at Software Assurance… you know that if you buy OEM right now you get the R2 Technology upgrade program that guarantees you the green check.  You know that if you buy OEM you are stuck with that software on that box, it CANNOT be moved to new hardware….but … you know if you buy software assurance to add to that OEM within 90 days you “can” move that operating system off that box and get the 64 bit SBS upgrades in the next Longhorn cycle..which… looks somewhat reasonable to hit within the three year period…. and if you do go three years you get the one support call, the media sent to you (which, I’ll admit, as the “Nicole” here.. is nice to have as I don’t have to go digging up the media it comes to me). And there are even some monthly installment payment plans you can do these days.  So from looking at Software assurance as a “Katie”, it’s something that looks reasonable.. ensures you WILL get on that 64 bit SBS platform.  And all my AD guru guys says that AD and Exchange just has to go on the 64 bit to get that good stuff.  32 bit was a total drag on our boxes… on all boxes.

But there’s another thing the “Katie’s” have… one of the var/vaps the other day said that they actually were better able to sell a solution the other day with the “managed service”/Software assurance.  The client really LIKED the proactive stance that the consultant gave because the SA gave them planned ‘forward thinking’. This was a firm that “got IT” and knew it was a part of their strategic overall plans.  As a “Katie” they totally got Software assurance was part of their strategic overall plans and goals for that firm.  Interesting viewpoint isn’t it…. especially as folks are moving to the “managed services” viewpoint.  “Katie” wanted software assurance because she was mapping out her technology future and wanted to ensure that it included an investment in technology.

The fact is for me, the “Nicole” here is that I did get a good SA deal in the SBS 2000 era.. I got Live Communication Server (which I still argue they need to code up a SBS lite version of LCS, but I digress), so my disappointment of being “Nicole” in the R2 era is tempered with my gains in the past. 

For those of you that have clients that are “Katie’s”, think about the forward looking view… that 64 bit coming down the road…. those that have managed services clients… something to think about isn’t it …to position that Software Assurance as an “investment”

But Microsoft… just make sure that in the future both the “Katie” and us “Nicole’s” feel like we’re treated well… you know what I mean?

So what about you?  You find that it’s easy to sell software assurance… or it’s a hard sell?


11 Responses to Sometimes I feel like Nicole Kidman…

  1. Jim Maher says:

    For me, it’s a “no sell”.

    I’m not going to recommend SA to my clients until Microsoft COMMITS to value for the money.

    I WANT all clients to buy softawre with maintenance. I want the maintenance to annually cost 25% – 30% of the license. I want the client to receive actual, tangible, real-needs value for that maintenance, each and every year they pay it. And that MUST include a new major release – of significant actual, tangible, real-needs value – within a three year period.

    Or, don’t pay for the maintenance. Period.

  2. Wim says:

    One of the big problems i see is that you have to explain to the customer they have to buy the license AND the maintenance for a product where you get all these nice goodies which they don’t really need (there nice but not essential) and some upgrade rights which give you, well R2. Which is basically a beefed up service pack. It is not easy to sell.

  3. In a round about way, I assume you are saying that Microsoft are completely crazy…. like Tom Cruise 😉

    No SA for my clients without REAL value for money.

  4. Amy says:

    It’s my job to keep my clients from being Nichole. When SA was first released we had our clients sign up for the office portion. All benefited. We haven’t sold anymore until this month. We’re recommending it again for anyone that’s in the position of having to upgrade or get legal. It’s a good deal again, if you buy now. Too bad it’s a timing thing.

  5. sproket90 says:

    show me a customer with under 15 computers in their shop that has even heard of software assurance.
    It’s like trying to sell glasses to a blind man.

    Not to mention how many versions of office have come out since 2003. nada.. next version 2007 Lets see 2007-2003.. 4 years. No benefit to the end user.

  6. Tony says:

    I have less than 15 machines and I’ve heard of it.

    Here’s the problem with SA as I saw it when it came out….boiled down, you pay us this additional fee, and IF we release an update in the period of time you’re covered, you can upgrade.


    How about you get the next upgrade free. The client gets a discount on future upgrades, and MS gets their $$$ up front. Instead, the way it was structured it was like “Trust us”

    Uh, no thanks.

  7. DV says:

    Recently my customers are asking me for Open Value licencing. And OV always include SA, so my customer are happy with it knowing that will have SBS 2003 R2 and the next version in 2007. BTW, SA in OV is covered for 3 years and you can make 3 payments instead of one.

    my two cents…

  8. Randy Spangler says:

    Now that I have spent over two weeks learning Open Value, Open Business, three years, two years, OEM SA add-ons, etc. (and all of the SKUs), I am starting to recommend SA for some clients because 2007 looks like it is going to be an upgrade kind of year. I agree with a previous poster that timing matters with SA. Assuming that Vista, Office 12 and Longhorn release in the 07-08 timeframe, it would seem folly to purchase SA in 08 without some sort of guarantee (which isn’t going to happen) of an upgradable product within 3 years.

    In a perverse sort of way, Microsoft has made it easy not to purchase SA. Say what you want, there is probably not another company in the world that is so open and has so many free or extremely cheap ways to support their products as MS. Public staffed newsgroups, private staffed newsgroups, support incidents for $245, free system down incidents for partners, free webinars, podcasts, extensive Knowledgebase, readily available patches, the list goes on. So when MS tells you that you get free support or discounted training if you have SA, whats the big deal? But, has anyone ever tried to get support for a Sonicwall router after 1 year? Even download a firmware upgrade after 1 year (even if it fixes a problem.) No way. Gotta have the extended contract (and you don’t ever get new equipment.) Ever tried to get ANY kind of support for your car from your dealer for free? How is Chrysler’s KBs helping you fix that Check Engine light? On-Star for free? Ha!

    I am not suggesting that MS pull back free/cheap support to sell more SA, but perhaps, they could lower the annual price of SA to, say, 20% of retail. This would tend to lock people into their software since they have a rolling investment. I mean, why not? Why give education discounts or non-profit semi-giveaways? They are users too aren’t they? They get the same value out of a product even if they pay 10 cents on the dollar. Therefore, allow SA clients to see a real amortized savings. Kind of a ‘family discount’. Our sales jobs become easier, MS gains more recurring revenue and the new SA benefits are just icing on the cake, not contrived reason to buy.

    I went a little long in this segment… time for a commercial break.

  9. Tony says:

    Randy: I agree….totally.

    One reason I don’t have a product (such as Sonicwall) that requires you to have a support contract to download bugfixes…they should always be free I don’t care who’s product it is. That doesn’t mean they have to support a product forever, but if the product is current and shipping, the self-serve fix-it-yourself option should be there to take advantage of.

    You want hand holding? Then you need a Support Contract…that makes sense.

    And if MS offered SA at a much more reasonable cost (like you suggested 20% or so), then I would be more likely to indulge. But if I remember, the cost was 75% to 80% of the total cost…way to high for the possibility of being skunked on a release date slip. No Thanks.

  10. Mark Welte says:

    Microsoft does follow the subscription method on the Dyanmics portion of their business. We have both Solomon IV and Navision and for 18% of the purchase price we can remain current on the major version that is out now. This includes self support on the Knowledge Base and patches. This is a lot easier for me to budget for as I know what my price is going to be for the next couple of years. Eventually we will have to pay for a new major upgrade but for now we get the same thing as SA for a lot less of the original purchase price.


  11. rape videos says:

    Your article is quite right, thanks.