Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) Licensing Program

Cloud Solution Provider Licensing

Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) is not only the first cloud-focused licensing program, it is the latest licensing program from Microsoft.

It offers new initiatives, which are worth investigating because they typically offer the bulk of the incentives and focus from the company. The benefit of CSP’s cloud-focused licensing program is that it truly recognizes the cloud as a subscription model and fixes many of the things clients have been complaining about for years when buying cloud on their Enterprise Agreement (EA).

The Enterprise Agreement (EA) is the legacy licensing agreement used by many organizations today and has been a long-preferred agreement for customers who could meet the minimum requirements. When we look at some of the differences between CSP and the EA, there are a few that jump out.

  •   CSP only requires a minimum of 1 of any licenses, where the EA requires a minimum of 500 Enterprise Product Licenses (Office 365 E1, E3, E5 or legacy on premises licensing like Office and the Core CALs).
  •   CSP is a monthly payment plan versus an annual upfront payment requirement of the Enterprise Agreement.
  •   CSP is much more of a subscription - All products can be increased or decreased in quantity on a monthly basis. The cloud licenses on an EA agreement can be decreased only one time per year, 30 days before the anniversary of the agreement and other traditional licenses cannot see their quantities reduced until the end of the agreement. Customers love knowing that they are only paying for the services that they are using with CSP.
  •   Price - Until recently the EA agreement had a price advantage out of the gate. However, Microsoft changed that in October of 2018 when they made all the core cloud licensing in the various programs the same cost (See Blog from Microsoft). Now EA agreements can be discounted by Microsoft and CSP agreements can be discounts by the CSP reseller themselves.
  •   Support - Support for the CSP licenses and agreement is provided by the local provider who can get to know your business and your concerns. Unless a premium support agreement is purchased, the EA support is provided by Microsoft out of a global, typically offshore, call center with no Service Level Agreement attached.

View the comparison chart:

Online Services

CSP vs EA Online Services Comparison Chart

For organizations with less than 500 users, CSP is going to be your best option for licensing your O365 subscriptions. With the minimum being just 1 User, organizations can start an agreement with little upfront investment and move at their own pace to add licenses as they are ready to move them to the cloud, especially if they are migrating to the cloud for the first time. Organizations with more than 500 users now have a new decision to make - whereas before the EA usually made the most sense for larger companies but now with these new changes they will want to take a hard look at CSP.

The ability to reduce your license count at any time is a big differentiator, especially if your headcount fluctuates, you have a seasonal business, just hire interns in the summer, or if you are having mergers and acquisition activities impacting your headcount. You can now license the right number of users and make changes to match what you need. You no longer need to pay for users that have left your organization; you can simply reduce your license count.

Adding & Reducing Licenses

CSP vs EA Adding and Reducing Licenses Chart

If you qualify for an EA, then there is a decision to make and there are pros and cons to each agreement. This flow chart, from Microsoft, can help you decide what is best for your organization and Interlink can also guide you through the process.

Questions to Ask: EA or CSP?

Questions to Ask: EA or CSP?

Why Interlink?

There are many companies who can resell CSP licensing, however it is important to understand the value of each company’s offering and what you are getting with your purchase. Microsoft empowers the CSP to set the price and build an offering, but the guidance is vague, so offerings can vary greatly from CSP to CSP.

Interlink is a Direct Partner with Microsoft. We are one of a small subset of all Microsoft Partners who transact directly with Microsoft instead of through a third party distributor. This helps ensure the best possible costing and support outcomes for our clients.

Why is Interlink the best partner for CSP?

  •   Interlink's Service Desk will be your primary O365 Support team with access to escalate directly to Microsoft Tier 3:
    • U.S. Based - English is our primary language!
    • We know your account and keep detailed notes on your environment
    • It's likely that we helped your organization setup Office 365, so we know what third-party products may be in your environment that could be impacting Office 365. If we didn't, we will include a no cost tenant review at the start!
  •   Interlink is a top partner for CSP
    • Top 20 in the US for CSP sales by systems integrators
    • One of a few partners who purchase direct from Microsoft ensuring that we have the best pricing
  •   Microsoft Certified Professionals for Microsoft Licensing on Staff - We understand licensing and how to help you profile your users and find the best licensing options, and promotions
    • No cost - licensing health check – helps ensure that you aren’t overpaying for licensing – and most people are!
  •   We have a dedicated Microsoft Premier Technical Account Manger to help get tricky issues resolved
  •   O365 Administration - License adds, license reductions, license assignment, etc.
    • Our billing department is based in Ohio, they know CSP licensing inside and out, including invoicing with detailed usage dates
    • Requesting a change with licenses is as easy as sending us an email and we will promptly get back to you
  •   "Escalate to the Engineer," the same people that know your environment and performed much of your POC's, assessments and migrations can be engaged for further diagnosis. All that information is stored and documented.