Microsoft’s transformation from a perpetual licensing organization to a subscription-first product led to explosive growth and popularity amongst organizations of all sizes. While the products have improved, Microsoft’s buying programs traditionally lagged behind.  

Fast forward to today, and programs such as the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) allow for a modernized and customer-friendly buying experience compared to legacy licensing programs such as the Enterprise Agreement. In fact, with the announcement of New Commerce Experience (NCE) in late 2021, Microsoft confirmed that CSP is now the foundational buying program for organizations with 2,400 users or less.  

In this blog, we’ll review Microsoft’s most popular buying programs and provide our insights to your organization’s upcoming renewal.  

Microsoft’s three buying programs underneath the NCE umbrella are:  

  • Microsoft Direct 
  • Enterprise Agreement (EA) 
  • Cloud Solution Provider (CSP)  

Microsoft Direct 

Purchasing licenses directly from Microsoft is ideal for a small business. We typically recommend this license program for businesses under 50 employees.  

Direct licensing is purchased at full retail price versus the available discounting under the Cloud Solution Providers (CSP) and Enterprise Agreement programs.  

When buying your licenses directly from Microsoft, you are provided with Direct Microsoft support. Generally, basic support tickets are included but any enhancements to basic support will be an added cost. This type of support is typically suitable for smaller organizations.

Lastly, since you are contracting directly with Microsoft you will not be receive proactive value-add or licensing guidance from a Microsoft licensing partner organization.

Organizations growing beyond 50 employees will likely benefit from the partner support and discounting available in one of the two programs below (CSP or EA).

Read Our Blog: What It Takes to Become a Microsoft Gold Partner (And What That Means for You) 

Enterprise Agreement (EA) 

Historically, Microsoft’s Enterprise Agreements were created as the most cost-effective platform to purchase licensing for large companies. It came with Perpetual Licenses + Software Assurance benefits that added value to an organization’s investment with Microsoft.

EA contracts are three-year agreement invoiced annually. Traditionally, customers purchased License + Software Assurance and were tasked with ‘truing up’ their license additions at the end of each year.

Discounts are also controlled by Microsoft and often limited to renewal options that include upgrades with software your team may not be equipped to deploy and manage at the time of the renewal. There’s a lot of red tape, but a certified Licensing Solutions Partner (LSP) can help you navigate the best they can. 

With the addition of cloud-based subscription SKU’s to the Microsoft portfolio, the EA quickly became an antiquated licensing model to consume Microsoft’s technology stack.

Customers who would traditionally look at Level A – EA pricing (2400 seats and below) are now recommended to look at the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program as a modernized licensing program alternative. Organizations over 2400 seats should also evaluate CSP for its customer benefits compared to the traditional EA.

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Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) 

The CSP program is a partner-led program. The discounts offered are dependent on the partner, not Microsoft. Typically, we recommend CSP as a fit for organizations with 50 to 2,400 users. Level B EA customers (2,400 – 5,999 seats) may still find the CSP an attractive option with its simplicity and flexibility offered in comparison to the EA. Level C and D EA customers (6,000 seats and above) experience discounting levels under EA that the CSP program cannot match today.

Since CSP is a partner-led program, it is important to find a high-quality partner that you trust to act as proactive stewards of your Microsoft licensing needs. A triple-Gold Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider like CloudServus can guide you through the Microsoft ecosystem, leaving little room to fumble your way through online searches for help.

If problems arise and you are looking for support, CloudServus aims to improve the Microsoft support experience by handling 80% of tickets in-house. In the event we need to escalate the ticket to Microsoft, customers are able to take advantage of our buying power and Advanced Support Contract for Partners to escalate.

This upgraded support is provided at no additional cost through the CloudServus CSP program.

Billing is also consolidated and simplified through CloudServus, with both annual and monthly term offers available to customers.

Lastly, great partners such as CloudServus provide tremendous proactive value in helping customers optimize their licensing spend, choose the correct suite of product, and provide business reviews catered to the customers needs.

Read Our Blog: How CloudServus Helped Hayes Locums Upgrade Their Microsoft Licensing and Go 100% Cloud-Based 

Choose CloudServus as Your Microsoft Certified Partner  

As a Gold-Certified Microsoft CSP partner, CloudServus strives for excellence and proactive partnership with all our clients. We make understanding the Microsoft ecosystem easy and help you select a plan that best suits your company’s needs.  

Contact us today to review your current licensing and discuss your goals with your Microsoft partnership, and we can walk you through your options. 

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