Microsoft’s Cloud Solution Provider program supports businesses’ ever-changing licensing needs.

The Enterprise Agreement (EA) is the legacy licensing agreement used by many organizations and has been a long-preferred agreement for customers who could meet the minimum requirements. Microsoft launched the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program to offer flexibility in how organizations purchase licensing. 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 offers a monthly payment plan versus the required annual upfront payment for the EA.
  • Price - The EA agreement initially had a price advantage out of the gate. However, Microsoft changed that in late 2018 when they made all the core Cloud licensing in the various programs the same cost. Now EA agreements can be discounted by Microsoft, and CSP agreements can be discounted by the CSP reseller themselves.
  • Support - Support for the CSP licenses and agreement is provided by the CSP reseller. So, the quality of support can vary widely. A regional provider, like Interlink, can get to know your business and your concerns and provide Service Level Agreements (SLA) to meet your needs. Unless an expensive Microsoft Unified support agreement is purchased (typically starting at $50K+), the EA support is provided by Microsoft out of a global (typically offshore) call center with no SLA attached.

View the comparison chart:

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CSP Table 2024 (1)


For organizations with less than 500 users, CSP is your best option for licensing your Microsoft Cloud Services. With the minimum being just one 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. The EA usually made the most sense for larger companies, but organizations with more than 500 users should also consider CSP for the potential of better pricing and support.

There have been changes to the CSP program as Microsoft introduced its New Commerce Experience (NCE) in early 2022.

  • The best pricing for CSP now requires a one-year commitment. Unlike the EA, you can still opt to be billed monthly with an annual commitment to ease your cash flow.
  • A month-to-month commitment is available with a 20% markup over the one-year option for the flexibility to reduce user counts at end of one-month term.
  • Subscriptions can only be cancelled within 7 days after purchasing (responsible for prorated amount until cancellation). No cancellation after 7 days.

It’s important to note that annual and monthly commitments can be combined. For example, let’s say you routinely hire 50 summer interns and they will require M365 E3 licenses. You can choose a month-to-month commitment for those users while choosing an annual commitment for the rest of your users. Even with the 20% markup for month-to-month licenses, you will save money purchasing 50 M365 E3s for 3 months vs. paying the lower monthly cost for 12 months.

Selecting a CSP Partner

Selecting a CSP Partner

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. We've compiled a list of key questions to ask a 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
    • U.S. Based - English is our primary language!
    • Support available 24x7x365.
    • We only support Microsoft so our team is focused and has deep expertise.
    • We know your account and keep detailed notes on your environment.
    • It's likely that we helped your organization setup your Microsoft Cloud Services, 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!
  • Escalate issues directly to Microsoft Tier 3
    • We have a dedicated Microsoft Premier Technical Account Manager who can help resolve tricky issues.
  • Interlink is a top partner for CSP
    • We are ranked in the top 10% of US Microsoft partners based on CSP sales.
    • We are one of a few partners who purchase directly from Microsoft, ensuring that we offer competitive 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.
    • Interlink’s no-cost licensing health check helps ensure that you aren’t overpaying for licensing – and spoiler alert: most organizations are!
  • O365 Administration - License adds, license assignment, etc.
    • Our billing department is based in Ohio, they know CSP licensing inside and out and provide invoicing with detailed usage dates.
    • Requesting licensing adds and assignments is as easy as sending us an email – we will promptly get back to you.
  • "Escalate to the Engineer"
    • The same people that know your environment and performed much of your POCs, assessments and migrations can be engaged for further diagnosis. All that information is stored and documented.


Find out how you derive more value from your Microsoft technology investments by including Interlink as your partner today!