Azure Cost Management series: New Commerce Experience

The Azure Partner Ecosystem

The Microsoft Azure Partner Ecosystem of Microsoft Cloud Service Providers (CSP) comprises the following actors:

  1. Platform providers (for example Ingram Micro, creating Web-based platforms for managing governance, provisioning and billing of the end-to-end Azure partner sales lifecycle).
  2. Indirect Providers (Distributors utilizing the Azure Platform provided by Platform providers)
  3. Indirect Resellers (working closely with Distributors and using the Distributor Azure Platform)
  4. Direct Resellers (working independently with large Azure customers, for example using Enterprise Agreement billing).

All above Azure Partner Ecosystem can utilize Azure NCE and the benefits stemming from it.

The Azure New Commerce Experience (NCE)

The New Commerce Experience (NCE) for Azure offers alignment across all sales motions by single offer catalog for Azure Plan, common price list in USD and monthly calendar billing in customer location currency. Customers can gain cost and usage visibility, budgets and optimization with NCE Azure Cost Management.

When Microsoft launched the new commerce experience for Azure in the Cloud Solution Provider program (Azure plan) in November 2019, they informed partners that the previous Azure offer and platform would continue to be available, alongside the new Azure experience, for some time.

While the new Azure offer in the Cloud Solution Provider program (Azure plan) provides partners and customers with an improved experience, Microsoft want to give partners time to incorporate the new Azure features with their services and transition their customers to the new experience. Given this, Microsoft will be taking a phased approach to changing the availability of the previous Azure offer in the Cloud Solution Provider program. This phased-approach centers on progressive change, delivering the key benefits of new commerce in the Cloud Solution Provider program with minimal disruption. There will be three phases, with phase 1 starting on July 21, 2021. For phases 2 and 3, Microsoft will inform partners at least 6 months in advance before the start of each of these phases so they can prepare their customers. Below is an overview of the phases of upcoming changes: 

  • Phase 1- July 21, 2021: All new Azure business in the Cloud Solution Provider program will transact on the new commerce platform via the Azure plan offer. 
  • Phase 2- Calendar year 2022: Changes for partners on the previous Azure offer in the Cloud Solution Provider program.
  • Phase 3- Date TBD: Removal of the availability of the previous Azure offer in the Cloud Solution Provider program for existing partners and customers.

The following are new features of the Azure NCE billing system as of June 2021:  

  1. End customers who purchase Azure subscription via CSP do not see any invoices, but they can see cost analysis of Azure resources in real time, shown in retail (and not CSP) prices.  
  2. NCE offers expanded Azure/Graph billing API functionality, which includes reserved instances and other Azure features.  
  3. NCE requires that every end-customer is tied to a distributor or reseller via daily checks performed automatically. Delegation of trust between customerà Fermorite à Infoquest is required and is established in the beginning. If there is no delegation of trust (the customer removes it at some point), we (and the customer) will be charged with retail price (and not CSP price).  
  4. NCE uses USD to EUR exchange rates which are locked for the duration of one month and refreshed on a monthly basis. Previously exchange rates were refreshed on a six-monthly basis.  
  5. NCE allows for 3rd party managed services and products to be included in the CSP subscription of the customer and for the customer/reseller to receive single invoice for everything. The 3rd party service provider gets refunded by Microsoft.   

Microsoft partners can review the partner blog and new commerce experience for Azure in CSP collection (requires Microsoft Partner Network ID) for additional information. Learn more about the Microsoft Customer Agreement.

Ingram Micro and CloudBlue have implemented Azure NCE in their Cloud Governance and Provisioning system which is used by numerous Azure distributors worldwide. More details and examples can be found in the articles of the Sources section below.