What is a Cloud Solution Provider?

If you are purchasing or considering Microsoft software and cloud services, you’ve probably heard of the Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider program – CSP. But what is it? And how can it benefit you as an end-user, not a reseller or a Microsoft Partner?

What is CSP?

CSP is a licensing agreement that Microsoft introduced in 2015 to allow Microsoft partners to sell Microsoft products and cloud services to customers. Products and services in CSP include Microsoft 365Azure, and more.

CSP is a relationship between you and Microsoft with a partner in between. The partner will manage the subscription for you, which gives them more control over your customer experience and how you are billed.

For you, not much has changed from the licensee’s point of view. You must still sign a licensing agreement with Microsoft – your CSP partner will facilitate it. That gives you licenses and services from Microsoft through the partner responsible for billing and support.

Benefits of Microsoft CSP

From the customer perspective, you have more flexibility over how you’re billed – you can be invoiced monthly or annually, for example.

You also get one point of contact for support and billing, which can be helpful.

Your CSP should do more than just procure licenses for you, though. Some other services you should look for your CSP to provide should include: license optimization, HR automation, licensing portal, multi-factor authentication, and risky login.

How CSP works

  1. You work with an authorised Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider program partner.
  2. The Microsoft CSP partner will provide you with a Microsoft Customer Agreement – MCA – form. That is an essential step. Signing this form creates a licensing relationship between your organization and Microsoft.
  3. The partner is your first line of communication. Depending on their “partner tier”, they will provide you with billing and technical support directly (Tier 1 or “direct model” partners) or via their distributor (“indirect CSP partners”). Microsoft itself will not offer billing or technical support.
  4. The Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider program partner will help you manage your Microsoft Online Services portal.

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About Plow Networks

Plow Networks is a leading IT services provider, connecting businesses to technology since 2012. With deep expertise in network, cloud, and end user support services, we partner with clients to leverage technology in ways that simplify operations and fuel growth. Plow Networks is based in Brentwood, Tennessee.


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