Microsoft Introduces Premium Assurance

Extends Support to 16 Years for Those Who Can’t Upgrade Yet

Microsoft has recently unveiled a new model for business running into issues migrating their applications to newer Windows and SQL Server versions. Premium Assurance is an add-on that extends the life of support by six years after the Extended Support ends on Windows and SQL Server 2008 and newer versions. The support will include security updates and related Critical and Important bulletins.

Starting in early 2017 (March) the program will be available to those licensed with Software Assurance under EA, EAS, Enrollment for Education Solutions, as well as Server and Cloud Enrollment. You need to purchase the assurance before the extended support expires on the related software. For example, to cover Windows Server 2008 you need to finalize your purchase by the end of December 2019.

For those companies needing to keep their environments running in a compliant state without having to upgrade OS/SQL, this offers an alternative to CSA. A Custom Support Agreement (CSA) is brokered with Microsoft for support beyond extend support and usually include required milestones upgrading servers to newer versions to keep updates flowing for remaining ones. Those who purchased licenses outside of the EA and related programs are out of luck and still only have a CSA as an option.

There a few things to keep in mind. Microsoft is going to charge 5% of the current license price at the beginning of the program. Prices will increase in July 2017 (7%), 2018 (9%), and 2019 (12%). Purchasing early locks in the rate for the length of the agreement and subsequent renewals as long as both PA and SA are maintained. This can save up to 58% when compared to buying in later with subsequent increases in program rates.

Additionally, all servers with SA under the supported agreements have to be covered in order to purchase Premium Assurance. You can choose to only cover Windows Server, SQL Server, or both. Once purchased, if you wish to add additional licenses of the product with SA+PA you can do so. However, if you need to reduce/drop coverage you have to wait till your next SA renewal. Thankfully this only covers server licenses and any related CALs would not require add-ons for Premium Assurance.

Many software vendors only support products through the extended support lifespan of the operating system they run on. So companies will still need to contend with the software running on Windows and SQL Server beyond that point. With the next version of Windows Server already just being released, there’s likely not much time to be spent looking back on those previous versions.

The original announcement can be found via this TechNet article.

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