Cloud services make many things easier, but first things first – you need to start with buying the right package for your business. It’s not always easy, as there are so many different options and ways of purchasing them.
How can you know which one is best for your organization? The Cloud Solution Provider program might be the answer. Let’s go over the various options of purchasing cloud services and answer some questions you may have about the CSP program.
There is one thing you can say about IT. Licensing is not simple. There are a lot of SKUs, ways to buy the same thing, and licensing programs. And then, there is the CSP.
What does CSP stand for?
CSP means Cloud Solution Provider. If you haven’t come across it yet, you might when you decide to purchase some Microsoft cloud services for your company.
Read on to learn about its terms, conditions, and value, to help you make an informed decision for when the time comes to buy your online services.
In short – the CSP program allows you as a customer to purchase Microsoft Online (Cloud) services from a Microsoft Partner (like Predica), and not through the Microsoft website.
Why would you want to choose it?
Let’s start with stating what these cloud services can be:
So far, so good. Either you need to count your users or estimate your Azure usage (for example, using a cost calculator).
But when it comes to buying those services, you will find that there are different models and programs for it. So much for keeping things simple!
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It’s not easy to navigate the whole offering. These programs are covered on the Microsoft web pages, but let’s try to quickly summarize them here for your benefit and understanding.
Here are the typical ways to buy Microsoft cloud products.
Pay as you go
This is probably the most familiar option. You can go to the Azure web page, enter your credit card number, and get charged when services are being used or licenses purchased, based on the billing period. Easy-peasy. But not always, as we’ve found. Sometimes, the key problem here is to find a credit card to be used and a person authorized to use it.
Enterprise Agreement (EA)
This option is usually applied to larger organizations. It is a dedicated agreement between your company and Microsoft that sets out the licensing terms. Big guns for big companies.
Cloud Service Provider (CSP)
CSP, aka your local partner delivering cloud service. Based on a monthly subscription, you get access to personalized support and a range of benefits. How do we know? We’ve been a Tier-1 provider since 2016. Side note: there are different tiers of CSPs; read more about different models here.
Here is a short summary of the features of each model:
It’s a service we offer to all businesses who use Predica as their CSP. Key features:
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The first thing you need to understand is the division of responsibility between your local partner and Microsoft if you purchase services through a CSP. Here is a handy table that summarizes it:
Let’s make it more practical.
These will be your CSP’s obligations and duties and some of the benefits coming from this split.
Your CSP issues your bill on a monthly basis. You will receive a local invoice based on your service usage issued by a local company, according to the applicable laws and regulations. Microsoft is not involved in this process and credit cards are not required (it may depend on how the CSP addresses payments).
Your local CSP partner also provides you with support for your services. It is them who will receive all your support calls. This means you don’t need to worry or figure out whom to call – you have a single point of contact for any problem or question.
No upfront payments
There are no upfront payments. You are being billed based on your service usage, after each billing period. This might be more attractive than annual seat commitment licenses or EA/Open Azure packages.
Your provider may have access to additional benefits, such as special discounts, which they may be able to pass on to you. And as they’re familiar with your environment, they may be able to further optimize your costs.
Good question – from our standpoint it is when:
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But CSP is not a solution for everyone. Now, let’s see some different scenarios.
There are a few cases when other ways of licensing might be more suitable:
It is best to learn from examples, so let’s look at a real-life one: When do we use the CSP model at Predica?
Here are some example business scenarios and which purchasing models might work best.
Office 365/EMS licenses
Most enterprise-level organizations have Enterprise Agreements in place, and it makes more sense for them to use those to buy Office 365 or EMS. Small companies in turn may benefit from dedicated, large volume resellers working only in this segment.
With that being said, if you use the highest tier of M365 licenses with additional security features, you can benefit from a CSP agreement. This is especially true if the partner offers managed security services as part or add-on to their service. As a result, you can get better protection and still benefit from optimized costs.
In our Dynamics 365 projects which usually also involve usage of Azure services (web portals, integrations, data analytics), we are using the CSP scheme heavily.
The reason for that is that we are also providing support and control over deployment and this is what business users of the platform are expecting. One contract, one place to go to with all the issues and problems. And one entity accountable for it.
It is much easier and is much more welcome from the client’s perspective in such (usually) mission-critical applications.
Azure platform services
Our development projects are based on the Azure cloud, and the CSP model has been proven effective in those instances.
With most of our small and medium clients who often do not have existing agreements nor Azure subscriptions, we use the CSP model to run production environment workloads and support them end-to-end.
This simplifies the process for the client. They know we have the people with the right skills, Microsoft MVPs among them, and that we will take care of the whole solution.
With large-scale clients who usually have production environments on Azure, we use the program to establish and fund development & test environments for their solutions.
In both cases, it is usually important to the client that through a CSP they can establish a well-maintained, supported environment with fixed fee billing as part of the overall service agreement.
I hope you have a better understanding of the Cloud Solution Provider program now. To sum it up in a short statement – it is the Microsoft cloud provided by your trusted, local partner. Same scale, same services, with friendly faces you know to provide and support them.
To make it 100% clear, we have prepared a short Q&A on the subject to address all possible doubts.
Q: If I have existing services on Azure, can I still benefit from working with CSP partners?
A: Good news! If you have existing services you can still transfer them to a CSP of your choice. Of course, if it makes sense for you.
Q: What else should I look for in a CSP?
A: Find out what else they’re able to offer in addition to cloud licenses – like support, security recommendations, cost optimization recommendations, and so on. Additionally, check their competencies. The more different technology areas they cover, the more likely they will be able to help you in the future if you need it.
Q: If I buy services from a partner like Predica (of course, why not?), am I tied to this partner?
A: No, it is still your money and your service. You are free to transfer to any other CSP of your choice. There are even ways to transfer to other purchasing programs, and we can help you get it done if you change your mind.
Q: If I have existing cloud services purchased in other schemes, can I still use the CSP?
A: Sure you can, the cloud is all about flexibility. You can mix these services in different models.
Q: Why choose Predica as my CSP partner?
A: When buying cloud services through us, you get access to a range of benefits, including free license migration, free cost optimization, monthly recommendations for cost reduction, and much more. And we can have you up and running within hours. But the best way to answer this question – try us for yourself!
Q: Why not go with a larger provider, like one of the Big 5 in consulting?
A: Large suppliers are able to give volume discounts, but they won’t provide the same level of personalized service or support you get with a smaller partner. But if price is your primary concern, the larger CSPs might be better for you.
Still unsure which model to use for your upcoming project? We have around $17m worth of cloud resources under our management. Why not use this expertise? Contact us and let’s talk about what you need.
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