The Big Easy Makes a Comeback

A Microsoft partner subsidy promotion to stimulate cross-selling, upselling and license sales gets renewed for part of fiscal 2009.

The Big Easy, Microsoft's popular partner subsidy program, is getting a new lease on life.

The original Big Easy program was open to all Microsoft Partner Program members and targeted small to midsize business (SMB) customers. It covered purchases between February and the end of Microsoft's 2008 fiscal year, June 27. The subsidies came in the form of checks to customers written out to the partner of the customer's choice. The last of those original Big Easy checks had to be redeemed by July 31, and Microsoft officials said the subsidies often turned into purchases from partners of software and services five to eight times greater than the subsidy amount. Microsoft put $10 million behind the original Big Easy program.

Big Easy 2.0 launched Aug. 25 and runs through Dec. 31. Purchases must be registered by Jan. 30, 2009; subsidy funds will expire after 90 days.

The idea behind the original promotion was to combine and replace four existing partner subsidy programs, which covered Microsoft Office, Windows Server, Windows Small Business Server and SQL Server. The Big Easy subsidy covered all those products and increased when partners were able to cross-sell, upsell or build in a licensing sale. The old program didn't cover Windows Vista.

The various triggers for the different subsidy levels are complicated enough that Microsoft provides calculators to help partners make sure their customers get the maximum amount. An example provided by Microsoft for the first version of the Big Easy demonstrated how multiple redemptions were allowed and how future purchases could increase the subsidies granted for previous purchases. In the example, a customer buys one Exchange Server and 50 user CALs for a subsidy of $600, goes back a few months later for a CRM Professional Server with 25 CALs and SQL Server with 25 CALs. Because the partner had then made a cross-sale across three product groups, the original Exchange purchase retroactively qualified for an additional $310 in subsidies. At the same time, the new purchases were good for $4,169 in subsidies.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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