All you need to know about interworks.cloud and the cloud industry
Microsoft launched NCE in the CSP program in November 2019, aiming to provide greater choice and flexibility for purchases and benefit partners with more selling opportunities and potential for growth. Currently, milestones and changes are coming up this year at its implementation stage. Business expansion, development, and cost reduction at focus, NCE brings a single connected experience for customers, and all customers are subject to the same terms and conditions for cloud purchases. It also brings about significant changes in pricing and commitment. This, in turn, leads to the need for CSPs to design their policies effectively.
At interworks.cloud, we are dedicated to delivering a seamless experience to our partners and helping them transition to the NCE smoothly. For this reason, we have prepared an array of informative sources and webinars to cover all possible questions and assist our customers in this journey. Below you can find a list of FAQs collected during this preparation, bringing all the information necessary in one single page and saving you valuable time researching.
You can learn more about the benefits of the New Commerce Experience here, or you can watch our webinar hosted by our Platform Product Manager in Product & Ecosystems Vaso Zanidou and Microsoft Territory Channel Manager Chronis Tzerefos. You can always discuss with our experts in detail and find out how the interworks.cloud platform can assist you in this journey.
The New Commerce Experience is simplifying a lot of things that we used to do in a more complex manner in Microsoft. If you have been very active in the Microsoft ecosystem for many years, you will know that there are a lot of ways you can transact with Microsoft. Moving into the cloud, we tried to simplify the way that a partner can transact with Microsoft. So, basically, we will be left with three motions. The first one is NCE, the second one is EA, and the third one is going to be web direct. NCE is going to bring features that we were supposed to bring into the partner ecosystem for many years now, but we haven’t got around doing it. For example, the 12-month subscriptions with commitment have been contractually in place, but they were never enforced, whereas we had them in web direct. You are going to find that the number of features that are going to make your life easier in terms of transacting with your customers is going to be put in NCE. Moving into what is going to change, we need to point out two things. The first one is obviously NCE, the second one are the price changes, the update on the pricing that is going to come from March. The price update is only for a few SKUs, whereas the NCE will affect all the seed-based offerings, which include Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, and Windows 365. What you need to have top of mind are the dates that the transitions and the changes are going to happen and what is going to happen on those specific dates.
The table below can be your guide for the next 12 months
Please note, dates might be subject to change.
interworks.cloud launched the integration with Microsoft NCE in November, and now our customers can sell the NCE offerings through their Marketplaces and manage subscriptions through their Admin Panel, which we name BSS. We are totally focused on providing our customers with the automation needed to start engaging with the NCE as quickly and as easily as possible. We are bringing into the interworks.cloud platform new features and functional changes under a phased approach to ensure the smooth transition and complete alignment with Microsoft’s finalized requirements and technical automation published.
Our platform releases are phased and will continue within the first half of 2022 to align with the milestone set by Microsoft for switching to NCE. Core functionalities that are considered as a business must have are highly prioritized by our team.
So now our customers can:
Sure, interworks.cloud has a Customer Success Department that guides our customers through onboarding, configuration, and training. So, whether it is a new customer or a new integration to be implemented, like NCE, for example, we are following a consultative approach, having in mind each specific customer case, their market, their business needs, and capabilities, and build the right strategy in order to lead our customers to success.
Our CSMs have onboarded many Microsoft CSPs and are extremely knowledgeable in Microsoft CSP models, both traditional and NCE since we started working with the CSP since its inception back in 2015.
On the back scenes now, our Microsoft NCE project team consists of experts like Product Managers, Business Analysts, Customer Success Managers, and Software Engineers who work to align our platform with Microsoft’s new features and capabilities. We participate in Microsoft’s NCE technical calls, read the documentation, FAQs & blogs and actively participate in Community discussions and sessions with customers to understand the business needs, get prepared and guide you through the momentous changes. We move carefully to keep the CSP business untouched and proceed with many new additions and implementations to match all business and technical requirements set by Microsoft.
Finally, our Sales Account Managers are the ones who take care of your individual business needs, dealing with your commercial and contractual requests towards achieving your goals.
Yes, the promos are available for every Customer, either existing or new. They are primarily set for the existing customers so that they can smoothly migrate to NCE without having any change in their billing, cost, and the way they commit.
interworks.cloud currently see two streams of NCE promotions, the one has to do with the short-term global promos that were officially launched on January 10 and last up to March 31 for annual products offering a 5% and June 30 for monthly ones offering a 16,7% discount to all new and migrated NCE subscriptions. The second stream has to do with the business-as-usual promos, that is somehow different from what they used to be. More specifically, there are some eligibility criteria that must be met for a partner to get the promotion. Microsoft has released a set of APIs to allow us, as an automation platform, to check and apply the promotion to each given subscription.
Our platform, using Microsoft APIs, is bringing in the promotion details for each subscription so that a CSP can select if they want to apply for the promotion. The automated promotion application happens when a purchase is happening in the Marketplace or the BSS system on behalf of a customer. Then, our integration ‘asks’ Microsoft if the specific Customer, the specific SKU, and the options that the Customer selected from an eligible subscription to get the promotion. If the answer from Microsoft is yes, our platform is going to automatically apply the promotion discount to the subscription price. Each way offers you peace of mind since it provides the price protection required to cover all future renewals or seat increases. Please note here that when you buy an annual subscription with a promotional price, then each addition gets the same promotional price, if it is within the duration term of the year, even if the promotion has ended. Of course, monthly subscriptions are renewed each month, so the price protection is narrowed. Our platform supports both scenarios.
Promos and discounts address partners primarily. Microsoft’s information targets the partners. Microsoft gives complete freedom to its partners to adapt their communication according to their customers’ nature.
We know that cancellation is a point of many discussions between CSPs and Microsoft and have understood that it is crucial for the CSP partner to offer every automation tool available so that this short cancellation window is communicated in a proper way to their customers. So, our platform provides multiple points of notifications for each side. First, your resellers or direct customers can view the cancellation window in the subscription management module in your Marketplace and proceed with cancellation if they want to. But also, you as a CSP can view the cancellation window for each subscription in the BSS, which is your control panel. The cancellation window is information that is automatically created into our platform once a subscription is provided so that everyone is aligned.
Finally, each CSP using our platform can build custom notifications for all platform modules. So, one or more notifications can be created and sent automatically to the resellers or end customers once a subscription is created and notify them about the cancellation window, which is extremely helpful!
Yes, you have the freedom to have whatever mix of monthly, annual, or 3-year subscriptions depending on the Customer’s needs.
Well, this has to do with the different pricing rules that Microsoft has applied in the NCE. As we know, pricelists are different for each market country that a CSP is selling, and we know that a CSP gets billed by MS in their local currency. So, the specific CSP partner will certainly be invoiced in EURO since they are in Germany. Now, we have two scenarios here:
If we assume that they sell to Switzerland in EUROs, then our system will “search” the price in Switzerland’s pricelist and bring the SKU price expressed in EURO. But, if they invoice their customers in CHF, then again, our system will “search” in Switzerland’s price list to get the correct price and bring the price in CHF, since this is the Customer’s buying Currency.
It is important to say that our platform fetches the price list in an automated way, using Microsoft’s APIs so that our platform customers can automatically and easily update their pricelists each month.
But the scenario that we talked about is somehow an easy one since Microsoft is providing all European pricelists in each European currency, and we saw that prices are currently the same. We must say that we can also cover more complex scenarios in terms of multi-country support and multi-currency, like the LATAM region, where all countries are billed in USD from Microsoft, but each country has a different price. So, this means that each SKU should hold several prices for the USD currency.
We have seen that most of the CSP automation platforms are copying the same product sets to cover each market or possible option, like the duration or payment term. This was a common practice, and we also did that, but we understood that markets are global, are quickly expanding, and it becomes unmanageable to maintain multiple supersets of the same SKU. So, we took a major step forward, and we have developed a new, let’s say, matrix way of building the pricing logic so that several parameters work as input data that dynamically feed the pricing engine and it returns the correct price, allowing you to keep one SKU set to cover all the scenarios. We saw that NCE was 100% matching with our new pricing engine and are glad to share that it will be available through our platform also for the NCE integration in February.
This scenario is not possible anymore in NCE, and this is one of the features that partners are going to appreciate because they bring loyalty to the Customer that commences for an annual term. When a customer commits to an annual subscription, whether he pays monthly or upfront, he commits to the obligation to see that subscription through for 12-months. After 72 hours, the subscription just cannot be canceled. The Customer has to stay with the partner for the next 12 months. You cannot transfer to another partner.
We need to point out two things. The first one has to do with your business processes and vetting. You need to know how trustworthy the Customer is and what the risk is of this Customer defaulting on any bill that we put out. You need to reflect that and put that in your business process when you sell a subscription and think about whether this Customer can go on a monthly payment, an annual subscription which means that you get the obligation to pay or that you have to ask for from this Customer to pay upfront. In the past, we didn’t have to do that because the Customer could cancel at any time, but we are moving to a fixed contract framework. The second risky thing is to not act on the changes because if you do not act on the changes, then you run the risk of not being able to do new business in March or not being able to renew in six months. Also, you run the risk of your customers moving into a monthly subscription and facing a 20% hit in cost and then going into an uncomfortable discussion with the Customer.
I could say that the Cancellation policy along with payment options are the riskiest aspect of NCE. The combination of those two has led all CSPs to re-evaluate their Credit Risk Policy – you must be careful on how and to whom you are going to offer the monthly payment option for the annual or triennial commitments.
We had a lot of ideas on how we could help our customers to overcome this through our platform. We are processing a lot of ways to actively assist our partners in constraining the risk, like allowing the CSP partner to review each order before actually requesting the provisioning actions from MS or providing the monthly payment option only to specific trusted resellers or end customers.
As for the benefits, we see that now you can be more flexible offering many subscriptions terms that fit your customers’ needs and more agile offering multiple payment terms, meaning the upfront or payment in arrears. Also, you can gain a better customer commitment and reduce churn with discounted annual pricing & the enforced cancellation policy. You can certainly enrich your CSP offerings portfolio by having more products to sell and certainly enjoy a clear billing experience in alignment with Azure and a better operational efficiency with the automated pricelist processing and the enhanced subscription management capabilities.
The interworks.cloud platform provides a Migration Tool for transitioning the Legacy subscriptions to the NCE. The migration tool allows the MSPs and their customers (resellers and direct customers) to perform a bulk transition of the Legacy subscriptions to the NCE. A transition wizard will guide the user through a step-by-step process to – check the subscription’s eligibility – define the options for the new NCE subscription – and perform the migration on selected subscriptions. Once the migration is completed, the Legacy subscriptions will be canceled, and the new NCE subscriptions will be created.
The interworks.cloud platform users (CSPs and their Customers) can both view the cancellation window of 72hrs for each subscription, within which they can cancel a subscription, and then they can perform the cancellation action for a subscription or any added seats. Upon cancellation, our platform sends a cancellation request to Microsoft through our integration API, and the Customer is refunded according to Microsoft’s rules.
According to Microsoft’s policy, a CSP Partner can suspend a subscription at any time to protect their business against cases of financial risk (like non-payments or late payments). When a subscription is suspended through our platform, our integration sends adequate information to Microsoft through APIs. This way, the end-customer cannot access the service, but the billing is continued. Once suspended, a subscription can be reactivated at any time or canceled at its terminal end.
Yes, when purchasing an add-on, a different subscription is created with its own start/end date. So, the 72 hours cancellation window applies here, as well.
Yes, our platform supports the billing frequency feature of NCE, whilst maintaining one single product in your catalog. Your resellers or customers select the payment terms during purchase for their annual subscriptions. They can choose either to pay upfront or with monthly installments.
Which timezones is the subscription-based on? Does it function according to the Reseller’s timezone or the Customer’s one?
The creation of the timestamp of the interworks.cloud platform used for each new NCE subscription is based on the CSP’s organization timezone.
Yes, our platform consists of 2 components, the one is for the CSP, and it is called Business Support System, and the second one is for the CSP’s resellers or direct customers, and it’s the CSP’s published Marketplace. Through the CSP’s Marketplace, their resellers or customers can review all available products, request for a trial, purchase a primary or add-on product, manage their subscription, get their invoices, and pay.
In the NCE, the Customer chooses the best pricing option of the annual term offers, knowing that they’re committing to it on a full-term basis. If customers are uncertain and believe they cannot commit to a whole year of payments or believe that they might need to stop using the subscription before the term’s end because of financial reasons, seasonality of the business, or other reasons, then they should purchase the monthly term subscription option that allows the subscription to be canceled at the end of any month. This is also important for partners when selecting customers that can buy annual plans. The NCE is an opportunity for partners to re-evaluate their credit risk rules and promote the monthly offers for customers that are unstable or risky in any way. So, the financial risk follows a chain flow throughout the channel structure, starting from the root, the CSP partner, to the Reseller, and then to the Customer. They are all held responsible for paying, but Microsoft will seek their payment through the CSP Partner, even in cases of non-payment by the resellers or the direct customers part. The interworks.cloud platform supports the definition of a credit limit allowance for resellers and/or customers so that the CSP can set an extra step of verification for each step. Also, the option of monthly payments is given only to selected resellers/customers by the CSP so that they can minimize their financial risk exposure.
Of course! The interworks.cloud platform has supported your CSP business in the NCE since the very start of the transition phase. You can automatically update your product catalog with the NCE offerings, define the pricing policy you’d like to follow (markup, margin, or discount on the SRP), and publish the NCE products to your white-labeled Marketplace! Your resellers and customers can review the products and purchase NCE primary or add-on offerings and enjoy the automated benefits of provisioning, management, and billing.
All New Commerce promotions are implemented as a percentage of a given subscription (monthly, annual, or multi-year). These promotions will vary in discount amounts and durations. New commerce promotions will automatically be applied during purchase if your Customer is eligible to get a promotion. Our platform checks for subscription eligibility and applies the discount automatically. The price of the subscription is protected during the subscription validity so that the Customer can benefit from the applied promotion when increasing the subscription’s seats.
Through our multi-dimensional billing mechanism, we can support multi-factor pricing for each product. This means that we can support multiple prices, multiple currencies for each qualification, and billing terms and payment options, under the same SKU. This is a unique characteristic of interworks.cloud platform, which allows you to actually maintain one single product record, having at the same time multiple variations that define the cost and sell price. As the buyer (Reseller or Customer) defines their purchase options, our system dynamically searches for the price and returns it to your Customer through your Marketplace. Also, at the same time, the promotional discount is applied, as returned from Microsoft’s eligibility check.
Yes. Our integration is fetching the pricelist of each market country that users sell. The interworks.cloud platform fully supports multi-country and multi-currency implementations. CPSs using our platform are able to select all the market countries they sell to and automatically fetch all the pricelists. If users wish to sell at a currency that is not supported by the MS Pricelist or different than the one of the market countries, they will be able to provide the desired selling currency (local currency), the base currency (USD), and the respective conversion rate (FX rate) into a platform tool.
Yes, a partner can have legacy and new commerce subscriptions in effect at the same time, and the partner will be billed for the legacy subscriptions on the usual legacy billing date and for the new commerce subscriptions on the standard new commerce billing date of the 8th of each month. Starting March 10, all new subscription orders for commercial seat-based offers in CSP must be transacted in the new commerce experience. Between March 10 and June 30, 2022, a legacy subscription can be renewed on legacy at the end of its term, and all legacy policies and capabilities and the legacy billing date will remain in effect until the subscription reaches the end of its term. After June 30, any legacy subscription must be renewed in new commerce, and the renewal of a legacy subscription on new commerce will not be made automatically, as Microsoft cannot determine the term, seat count, billing frequency, etc., for the new commerce subscription. The partner must manually renew the legacy subscription on new commerce.
Our platform is fully aligned with Microsoft’s NCE subscription cycles in order to match on subscription dates, support the narrow cancellation window and provide a better reconciliation experience.
The interworks.cloud platform offers three levels of assistance in minimizing the credit risk of CSPs who use our automation platform. The first one is that the billing frequency option can be defined on a customer level, meaning that the CSP can select the customers that can buy an annual product with monthly payments. Also, when a reseller or a customer purchases an annual product with monthly payments, the credit limit allowance for the specific reseller/customer is reduced by the total (annual) amount, in order to prevent them from buying above the credit limit threshold that the CSP has set for them. And lastly, our suspension automation provides the CSP the capability to automatically suspend a subscription in case of non-payment, also having a set of rules to adjust. The above-mentioned automation comes at no extra cost for the CSPs that use our platform so that they enjoy enhanced NCE subscription management automation capabilities within the interworks.cloud platform.
This is a great opportunity for you to re-evaluate your strategies and partnerships and ensure you are fully prepared to take advantage of the changes. Our cloud experts can clear up any questions you may have. Book your demo!