Microsoft has put through a raft of changes to reduce licensing complexity and cost, while introducing flexibility when it comes to licenses to benefit a wider client base.
Microsoft New Commerce Experience became Generally Available (GA) in January 2022, while there are future dates around the existence of legacy licenses, from the 10th of March 2022, all new subscriptions have to be purchased through the New Commerce Experience.
The New Commerce Experience improves predictability, reduces licensing complexity, and enhances the term allocation to a subscription. The term options outlined in the NCE are
- At a premium cost (20% extra cost over Annual)
- Payment upfront (Annual Cost)
- Monthly Payments
- Payment Upfront (Tri-Annual Cost)
- Annual Payments
- Monthly Payments
With these terms, some SKUs are not available monthly, and only some Dynamics SKU's are available as Tri-Annual subscriptions as of writing.
The New Commerce Experience has also introduced measures around the cancellations of Subscriptions – This means that if you cancel or suspend a Subscription outside of the 7 day grace period, you do not get a refund for the rest of the term as which was the case in Legacy.
What Integration has Atria created?
Atria has designed a new integration to help manage Microsoft365 Subscriptions for your customers. We’ve created an easy interface for you to be able to see, purchase, and update NCE Subscriptions.
This data is retrieved directly from Microsoft – meaning you get the most up to date subscription data Subscription data is also stored into the Atria database.
A key benefit of this new integration is that you can quickly switch between customers and see what licenses are being consumed, as well as the status of the licensing.
Additionally, you can centralize your business operations – when creating a new user, you can now purchase licensing directly for users as needed and allocate to users within the same portal. This removes the need for specific team members to purchase licenses in the Partner Center, giving you smoother business operations and faster response times.
What are the requirements to use this feature?
To access this feature, you will need to be a Direct (or Tier 1) Microsoft CSP Partner. This means that you are billed directly from Microsoft for your subscriptions.
This feature is not currently supported for our Indirect (Tier 2) customers; we plan to eventually enable the ability to integrate this feature directly into your distributors so you can continue to use Atria as a single pane of glass.
You will need the latest version of Atria (15.6). While earlier versions of v15 (From 15.2 Onwards) have prior versions of the Subscriptions feature, we recommend you being on the latest version released.
You will need to create a Global Administrator within your Partner Center CSP tenant – this enables us to create and manage licenses across your customers.
What is the current Atria functionality for NCE?
At time of the last update to this document (29rd June), we have released the following.
- Subscription Purchasing of the commercial seat-based offers
- Microsoft 365
- Dynamics 365
- Windows 365
- Power Platform
- Purchasing of Trial Licensing
- Subscription Management (for new commerce, and legacy subscription types)
- *Increasing licenses
- Decreasing licenses**
- Managing Auto Renewal
- Catalog management
- Managing what is available to be purchased to customers (NCE Products only)
*Please note, that the New Commerce Experience is available only for Commercial Customers. This means that Not for Profit, Education and Government qualified customers are unable to purchase licenses through the New Commerce Experience.
Our legacy provisioning (Automated license purchasing on license add, with a default of Monthly) is still present for these use cases. You are unable to create new subscriptions for any of these qualifications through the Subscription page, but you are able to increase/decrease quantities for subscriptions that have been previously created.
** Microsoft New Commerce experience licenses can only be decreased within a 7-day period after the purchase of the new subscription. Outside of this period you will be unable to reduce the quantity. If you would like to suspend a license before the end of a term, please do this through Partner Center.
We are releasing small and frequent updates to our NCE implementation. We will continue to iterate and improve based on user feedback. This means ideas, suggestions or problems can be quickly fed back into the product.
Phase 1 – License Updating (Completed)
Phase 1 was released as part of 15.2. This included the initial release of our NCE changes and the enablement of subscription updating (increasing, decreasing licensing).
Phase 2 – Catalogue + Subscription Purchasing (Completed)
Phase 2 is in testing and will be released as part of 15.6. This includes the ability to create a restricted product catalogue for customers, enabling you to hide unsuitable/unnecessary subscriptions from customers to match your sold stack. Additionally, this release will bring the ability to purchase new subscriptions with required terms/payment frequencies.
Phase 3 – Invoice Parsing (In Development)
Phase 3 is expecting to release invoice parsing to systematically import invoices from Microsoft and create line items within Atria for customer billing. This will include changes to our billing API to extract and show Microsoft’s invoice data.
Phase 4 – License and Subscription improvements
The key goal of this phase is to simplify the license assignment process to users. This will mean that the current Microsoft Online service will be updated to be easier to use.
We also plan to introduce “Right Sizing” of subscriptions like on the legacy experience. If there is an available unused license (either a cancelled user or spare licenses available at the end of the term) we will remove that subscription, saving you and your customers real money.
Finally, we plan to re-implement Auto-Incrementation of subscriptions to bring back a simplified user provisioning process if all licenses are the same static payment frequency/term.
Phase 5 – Distributor Integration
We’ll be creating an SDK which will allow Distributors API’s to be integrated with Atria to provide similar functionality for subscription management. We’ll also be picking a distributor to prove the process with, so if you want your specific distributor to have a native integration, please contact our team.
These are our current plans for NCE – if you have any ideas around the subscription process, please get in contact with our team.
How do I start using Atria for NCE ?
Easiest way is to contact our friendly support team who will be able to advise on this. If you’d like to schedule a demo, please follow this link to book a time - Get an Atria Demo, or contact our friendly support team.
What other Microsoft Online NCE guides do you have?I'm glad you asked! We've got guides on the following.
Microsoft Online - Adding a new item to the Catalog
How does the integration work?
We use the Microsoft Partner Center API to access and control subscriptions.
There are two Atria Services that need to be provisioned to the Customer in Atria.
The Azure AD Service connects the Atria customer to the Azure AD tenant.
The Microsoft Online service is used for assignment of licenses to end-users – Here's our KB on how to configure your Microsoft Online service - Microsoft Online - How to configure your Customer plan
Permissions for Subscription Management are automatically enabled for the customer administrator for purchasing and updating of subscriptions.
Awesome! – So, what terminologies do I need to know?
The Subscriptions page displays the Microsoft 365 Subscriptions for the currently selected tenant.
With the NCE update, Offers have become tiered, each Product/Offer has 1 or more related SKUs – This has reduced the top level catalog from around 800 products down to 180!
This makes it slightly easier to administer, but it has changed the purchasing process.
In order to create a new Subscription for a Microsoft Service, An Offer, a SKU and an Availability are combined to create a Catalog Item ID. This is then used via the Partner Center API to create a new Subscription for this product for the customer.
Offer / Product
The Offer is the base Product that is chosen, i.e. Office 365 E3, or Microsoft 365 Business Premium. Each has a unique ProductID.
The SKU is the specific flavour of the product chosen, many only have one SKU, but some have multiple.
Offer/Product : CFQ7TTC0LCH4 Microsoft Intune
SKU: 0009 Microsoft Intune
0004 Microsoft Intune Device
0006 Microsoft Intune Storage Add-on
The Availability defines additional information – e.g. where the product is being purchased, who is able to purchase and how it can be purchased.
The availability includes:
- Country – the country where the product is being used
- Segment – the Microsoft segment to which this applies – e.g. Commercial, Education
- The terms which can be used to purchase – e.g. Monthly, Annual etc
Once you have selected the relevant Offer, the correct availability is queried for the tenant, we use these to create the Catalog Item ID, which can then be used to purchase the subscription.
Now that we understand what makes up a subscription, we can get purchasing!
Understanding the UI management features for Subscriptions
Atria has a new page for the management of subscriptions.
Existing Microsoft Subscription Management
For individual components of the page:
This re-synchronizes current subscriptions from Partner Center for the currently selected tenant. This will identify any possible changes made since you last loaded the page, or if other systems are updating subscriptions.
Export to CSV Button
This generates a full CSV for all subscriptions consumed by the customer, legacy and NCE. This means you can quickly generate licensing information for your end customers.
To update a license, Click on the license, and it will show the below interface.
Here, you can update the quantity, change the Nick Name of the License, as well as enable or disable auto-renew. We also display the term and payment frequency.
Nick Name Field
Displays the Nick Name of the License. By default this will be the name of the SKU used to create the subscription, you can override this as needed. In this example, we have changed to show the Payment Frequency.
This displays the quantity of licenses associated with the subscription. In this example, we have 10 Microsoft 365 Business Premium licenses.
This displays the Subscription duration or Term. As this is an annual term, it shows the renewal date in your locale. In this example, this is in the US format.
This outlines the payment frequency for this subscription – this cannot be changed after a subscription has been created.
If this is enabled, the subscription will renew to the same terms automatically. If disabled, the subscription will become suspended at the end of the current term.
Catalog management enables service providers to show a subset of available Microsoft Products for selection by internal staff or customers for creation of new subscriptions.
The Microsoft NCE catalog has over 2000 Product/SKU combinations. The catalog feature allows you to reduce this to what you typically sell to your customers, which might be just 10-30 products or less.
Atria does not use this catalog to filter subscriptions, all subscriptions are shown in the subscription page regardless of whether the product is enabled in the catalog.
At this stage, you can only configure the ability to show Offers not SKUs or Availabilities. So, if you only choose to show “Office 365 E5”, at the Availability page you will also see “Office 365 E5 Without Audio Conferencing”.