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Microsoft's Enterprise Mobility Suite Coming to Open Licensing, Action Pack

In an effort to increase channel uptake of its strategic mobility and security cloud offering, the Enterprise Mobility Suite, Microsoft is making EMS available for free to partners and providing a new way for partners to sell it.

"EMS is available in Open Licensing on March 1, 2015," wrote Gavriella Schuster, general manager of the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group, in a blog post Thursday. "Like many of the other cloud-based services that recently become available in Open such as Office 365, Azure or Dynamics CRM Online, the flexibility and potential cost savings of the Open Licensing model makes it possible for distributors and resellers to sell additional cloud services to small and medium-sized enterprises."

Microsoft has two main models for the majority of partners to sell its cloud services. In the original model, partners get themselves registered on a deal between Microsoft and the customer and receive Partner of Record fees, also known as advisor fees. That option had been available for partners with EMS already.

In another model, partners buy the license on behalf of the customer, and then resell it, ideally in a bundle with other Microsoft, third-party and their own services. One method for facilitating those types of sales is with Open Licensing. In Microsoft's Open model, the customer places an order with a partner, the partner in turn makes an order from a distributor -- such as Tech Data, Ingram Micro or Synnex -- and the distributor ultimately passes the order on to Microsoft. The invoice goes back through the chain in the other direction, allowing the customer-facing partner to present a single bill to the customer, offering customer convenience and partner control over margin. The approach also is supposed to protect partners from having their customers poached by either the distributor or Microsoft.

Microsoft introduced that Open model for cloud services with Office 365 in February 2013 and later added other products to the model -- Intune and Power BI in April 2014, Azure in August 2014 and CRM Online earlier this month.

EMS is also being dropped into the package of not-for-resale offerings that partners get from Microsoft to encourage internal familiarity, customer demos and testing. "Starting in early March, Microsoft Action Pack subscribers, along with Silver and Gold competency partners, will get access to EMS and Azure AD Basic as part of their Internal Use Rights (IURs) benefits," Schuster wrote.

A response to the megatrends of consumerization of IT and bring your own devices (BYOD), EMS consists of Azure AD Premium for hybrid identity and access management, Intune for mobile device and application management, and Azure Rights Management for information protection.

To encourage usage of the products together, Microsoft cut the price to buy the suite by almost half compared to what it would cost to purchase the three products separately. According to a December 2014 customer datasheet, the suite costs $7.50 per user per month with an annual commitment. Individually, the products would cost $14 -- $6 for Azure AD Premium, $2 for Azure Rights Management and $6 for Microsoft Intune, according to the datasheet.

Matt Scherocman, president of Interlink Cloud Advisors in Cincinnati, has several customers on trials of EMS and sees the product as a huge opportunity for the channel.

"I think partners should want to drive this as a solution. No. 1, it's services. No. 2, it's about helping the customer with all the ways they protect their data, which is huge," Scherocman said, adding that the single sign-on that EMS enables through Azure AD Premium allows users to connect to several thousand cloud apps in a way that's managed by the AD administrator. "The other thing I like about EMS as a partner is that it's an area that Microsoft is investing in."

Posted by Scott Bekker on February 26, 2015


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