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

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

Editor’s note (June 2019): We updated this post to reflect the latest CSP news and Softchoice webinar which can be viewed below. 

Technology acquisition continues to evolve – away from physically owned infrastructure and towards cloud subscription services – and vendors are offering great programs to go along with it.

Microsoft has recognized how customer buying habits have changed to meet the rapid pace of innovation and have 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 “traditional” licensing and maintenance for subscription models.

According to Luke Black, Director of Business Development Programs and Operations at Softchoice, while understanding how CSP solutions impact you as a customer is important, customer’s knowledge of CSP varies.

In our recent Modern Microsoft Licensing webinar, Steve Thompson, Sr. Systems Engineer Microsoft EMS MVP, and Patrick O’Leary, Softchoice’s Microsoft Practice Lead, peeled back the CSP curtain. They discussed how CSP with Office 365 and Azure 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, manage, and support solutions.

Today, almost all Microsoft online cloud solutions are offered as CSP solutions, including Azure and Office 365.

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

CSP also changes the service and support model. The partner, and not Microsoft, is responsible for technical issues, support, and managed services. This allows partners like Softchoice to add extra value to 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. However, more and more businesses need the ability to scale up and down, simply, quickly, and efficiently.

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?

CSP solutions are excellent options for customers who:

  • Purchase directly from the Microsoft Office Portal – if you already buy through Microsoft’s online portal, CSP adds value and you still retain the same access and functionality of the Admin Portal
  • 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
  • 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
  • Want to increase ROI by having a Microsoft expert like Softchoice at their service for getting the most out of their Cloud investments

What are the benefits of CSP solutions?

It allows seasoned Microsoft Partners like Softchoice to provide additional value and support for O365 and Azure.

CSP customers can pay for as much or as little service and support as they need. For example, at a minimum, a partner might offer a digital support model or a knowledge base for problem resolution. The real benefits come, however, when further value and managed services are layered onto a solution.

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.

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