After 10 hours of meetings with Microsoft Services this past week, I can share with you the big picture in terms of how Microsoft supports its customers, which include everyone from governments all the way down to my own family.
Before I get into the details of Microsoft Services, let me just say what you're probably already thinking: Why is it so expensive? It's true; some of the options are not cheap. One quotable line from my meetings is "Microsoft is not a nonprofit company," and that's easy to see. However, I came away believing that Microsoft's profits aren't coming from support services.
I found the overall picture for Microsoft's support services to be fuzzy at first, and I suspect you share that view. So let me walk through Microsoft's support offerings and levels, going from the top down.
You can think of the enterprise architect -- formerly called advisers -- in the Enterprise Strategy Program as the crew chief on a Nascar team. Just as the crew chief is pulled in to communicate with the driver, the owners, and the squad to ultimately maximize the value of the entire team, an enterprise architect offers similar services to customers. The enterprise architect first considers what technologies -- all of them, not just Microsoft -- you currently have in play and assesses your goals from a business perspective. The enterprise architect (many are former CIOs and CTOs) then analyzes these details and helps the executive board plan, design, and manage the technology implementation based on business needs.
Skeptical readers may suspect that if an enterprise architect comes on the scene, the architect will recommend you switch to Microsoft-only products. That's not typically the case. Much like a crew chief who arrives after the car, tires, and so forth have been purchased, the enterprise architect may recommend that you modify your product set, but that is incidental to the goal of matching the technology to the business goals.