Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) and the ABCs of modern Microsoft cloud licensing

Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) And The ABCs Of Modern Microsoft Cloud Licensing

How the Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program helps partners add value while their customers gain flexibility

Technology acquisition continues to evolve – away from infrastructure and towards web services – and vendor licensing and partner programs with it.

In recent years, Microsoft has recognized how customer buying habits have changed to meet the rapid pace of innovation. To align with them, Microsoft developed the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program. It’s all part of a larger trend moving away from traditional software licensing. By 2020, Gartner predicts that 80% of software vendors will abandon licensing and maintenance for subscription models.

While understanding how CSP solutions will impact you as a customer is important, according to Luke Black, Manager of Microsoft Programs and Marketing Operations at Softchoice, customer knowledge of CSPs varies.

In our recent Modern Microsoft Licensing webinar, Black and co-presenter John Byrne, Softchoice’s Managed Services Advisor, peeled back the CSP curtain. They discussed how CSP works and the benefits customers can see from solutions using to build solutions.

What is CSP?

Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) is a non-contractual monthly, cloud subscription platform on top of which partners can build and support solutions. Today, three Microsoft cloud solutions are offered as CSP solutions: Office 365, Microsoft Enterprise Mobility +Security and Azure.

CSP customers gain the flexibility of scaling Microsoft technology up and down in a cloud environment, but with the support of a solution provider. Customers aren’t locked into the long-term commitment of an Enterprise Agreement (EA) or other volume licensing programs.

The program also changes the service and support model. The solution provider, and not Microsoft, is responsible for technical issues, service, and support. This allows partners like Softchoice to layer extra value onto the solution.

Why is the CSP program needed?

There will continue to be organizations for whom a three-year commitment to Microsoft around on-premise solutions makes perfect sense. But increasingly businesses need the ability to scale up and down and a simple way to do it, Black noted. “It’s all about simplification.”

“We all want to do more with less,” he said. “That’s why there’s a need for this modern licensing and a platform like Cloud Solution Provider.”

If you’re familiar with existing Microsoft license agreements, you are likely used to managing disparate agreements across many commercial systems. CSP solutions remove that complexity. They provide a single platform from which to buy and manage Microsoft cloud solutions, available from multiple entry points.

Who are CSP solutions ideal for?

According to Black and Byrne, CSP solutions are excellent options for customers who:

  • Purchase direct from the Microsoft Office Portal – If you already buy through Microsoft’s online portal, or who want to, CSP continues that, but with added value coming from the solution provider.
  • Don’t want contractual agreements – CSP is perfect for those adamantly opposed to long-term commitments, or who want to be billed only for what they use month-to-month.
  • Don’t mind buying separate on-premise licenses – While it’s on the roadmap, on-prem licenses are currently not part of CSP offerings. They are expected to be incorporated in the first half of 2018.
  • Need shorter-term cloud subscriptions for testing – Customers on EAs today can add cloud subscriptions, but there’s often still a long-term commitment involved. CSP solutions let you test out the cloud environment without being locked in.

What are the benefits of CSP solutions?

While CSP is a partner program, the ultimate beneficiary is Microsoft’s customers. It allows solution providers to offer greater value above and beyond the software purchase.

CSP solution customers can pay for as much or as little service and support as they need. For example, at a minimum, a partner might offer 24 x 7 live support. The real benefits come, however, when further value and managed services are layered onto a solution, Byrne suggested.

For example, navigating and managing the many updates and changes that come when using Software as a Service can be an overwhelming, full-time job. At the same time, traditional support often requires going through a script describing your environment.

Partners, on the other hand, have knowledge of both your environment and Microsoft solutions to provide strategic advice. A trusted solution provider using the CSP model can help customers achieve faster time to value and happier users. And can do so this while reducing risk and complexity and offering efficient, predictable costs.

Through a CSP solution, like Softchoice’s Keystone for Office 365, your partner can provide you with the administration, actionable insights and ongoing mentorship to get the most out of the solution in your specific environment.

To learn even more about CSP, or for a refresher of what you heard in the webinar, you can watch it here.

Is it time to look at Skype for Business and Cloud PBX?

Is it time to look at Skype for Business and Cloud PBX

It may be time to cut the figurative strings tying you to your traditional PBX. Is it also time to cut your legacy public switched telephone network (PSTN) provider?

Strong communications capabilities are as essential to business success as the people using them.

[Read more…]

3 Secrets to Getting the Most Business Value from Office 365

3 Secrets to Getting the Most Business Value from Office 365

We just did an entire webinar on how to get the most value out of Office 365 — and we did it all without mentioning a single feature. Not one.

How on Earth is that possible?

For the same reasons every technology project, ever, succeeds or fails: it isn’t about the speeds, feeds or special features. It’s about achieving a business use case and bringing value to end-users. Features are just the details to be worked out after!

[Read more…]

Getting secure in a mobile-first world with EMS


We live in a time where a generation of workers has never plugged in a cable to get on the Internet. And while this mobile-first world has been great for productivity, it’s led to greater risk and challenges for the security team.

Today, security is so much more than just a firewall. As we saw in our recent webinar, co-hosted with Microsoft to discuss their new Enterprise Mobility + Security Suite, breaches are resulting from weak end-user passwords or error, as well as a lax attitude toward SaaS and third party “Shadow IT.” Add to that infrastructure complexity brought on by cloud and hybrid environments and everything you knew about security is changing.

[Read more…]

Project and Visio: SAme Friends, New benefits!

Proejct and Visio

The cloud has never looked so good

Microsoft Project and Visio are two products that are never quite treated the same as the rest of the Office suite. Customers move most of their productivity workloads to Office 365 (currently at 60 million users). But, we’ve found that Project and Visio workloads remain untouched, tied to the hardware they were installed on. Despite having rights to the latest version of Project & Visio, the typical Microsoft Software Assurance (SA) customer “deals with the pain” and sticks to legacy versions. They forego the innovative features Office products have embraced over the years and never quite make the shift towards the cloud.

[Read more…]

Avoid Office 365 gotchas with these key considerations


One C-level executive was so excited to get going on her company’s new Office 365 bundle, that she asked to be first on the list to adopt it.

Everything was going great until a week later when she started missing important calls and meetings. Uh oh… All of a sudden IT leaders were scrambling to figure out what went wrong.

Can you guess it?

In the rush to get her on the platform, IT failed to give the proper permissions to the executive’s assistant. As a result, all the meeting requests the assistant usually handled never got read.

Sounds obvious, but we’ve seen plenty of examples just like this one. Unfortunately, this story points to a much larger phenomenon. Too many businesses make the switch to Office 365 without thinking through all the key considerations that might get in the way of success — and it’s not just the end-user perspective like the example above. These are serious issues, from infrastructure, finances and security.

At a glance: key considerations to make before adopting Office 365

So what can be done? We discussed this at length in our latest webinar – which you can watch below.

Shared Responsibility:

In the chart below, everything on the left-hand side is Microsoft’s job with Office 365. The rest is up to you. As soon as “the copper leaves the building” it’s on you to ensure your business is properly set up.

Security and data are a major concern here. But so is how your business processes need to adapt to Microsoft’s ongoing software updates. Last year alone there were nearly 500 updates released — each one would have to be vetted to ensure your individual Office 365 implementation and processes would continue, unfettered.


Internal Silos

Traditional businesses split roles into silos, from your server to storage to networking, right up to applications, telephony, and security. But when you switch to Office 365, these roles are merged and sometimes completely off-loaded to Microsoft’s team.

IT leaders must consider how this impacts their teams, and make a plan to include existing team members in future plans to ensure their own success and avoid fighting and loss of productivity.

Infrastructure and the network

Your data center is no longer down the hall, it’s in another part of the country. This has a significant impact on your line of sight when issues arise.

Simultaneously, this puts a drastically increased importance on the strength of your network. It is now more important than ever that you can handle the bandwidth to support cloud, ensuring reliability, scalability and end-user satisfaction (i.e. speed.)

Data Considerations

Office 365 is often thought of simply a new way to license – when in reality it has enormous implications on your data and the infrastructure used to store and move it. This cannot be overlooked.

You need to think through such things as the size of mailboxes and detailed user permissions. Use the 3 W’s and an H approach: What data do we need to migrate, Who has access to it, Why are we moving it, and How will we move it?

Operational Challenges

It would be incredibly rare if you had an Office 365 veteran in-house already. Therefore it is extremely likely mistakes will be made in both the configuration and ongoing management of Office 365, causing you undue costs and wasting your time in the process.

Understanding the skills gaps, and the need for expert guidance upfront and perhaps on an ongoing basis are crucial questions to address from the start.

Want more details on the considerations, and how Softchoice’s Office 365 tools and managed services can help you? Watch the full webinar recording now or contact your representative today.