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Submitted by Matthew Schmider on 14 April 2021

How Your Microsoft Cloud Services Provider (CSP) and Microsoft Subscription Licensing Work Together To Benefit Your Business

Recently, we published a blog post called What A Microsoft Cloud Services Provider (CSP) Is—And 8 Reasons Why Should You Care because the concept of a CSP, while known by Microsoft partners, isn’t completely understood by customers. That’s unfortunate because a CSP—as the blog post discusses, offers big benefits. 

With the definition and role of the CSP clarified, the next area that needs explaining is Microsoft SaaS (Software as a Service) subscription licensing and how it changes the role of your CSP. Why is it so confusing? Because Microsoft offers so many licensing programs, options, and types of users (“light”, for example), many of which are “legacy” and are being transitioned to the CSP licensing model. In this blog post, we discuss subscription licensing and the role your CSP plays.

The various programs offered by Microsoft are available because they all offer features and benefits for customers. As mentioned, some of these are legacy programs and will be transitioned to a more simplified model where the CSP will manage the process of arranging licensing for their customers. That’s a move in the right direction for you, the customer, but there is still a level of confusion because there are many product licenses you can purchase within the CSP program. This is where having a CSP can really help. Here are some of the ways your CSP can help with your Microsoft licensing.

A Macro View Of All Your Licenses and How You Use Them

The biggest and most immediate benefit of having a CSP is that they have both the understanding of your Microsoft licenses and your business to help you choose the best licensing configuration and options. They have visibility into which Microsoft products and licenses you currently have. This puts them in the ideal position to look at how you are using the Microsoft products you have, how many users and what each is doing, and then assess whether there is a more efficient way to handle all those licenses. This can be a huge money saver. 

Here is an example of how things can get complex and how your CSP can help: Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central and other Dynamics 365 products have Microsoft Power BI built in. So, if you have users who only use those components of Power BI, you might not need Power BI licenses for those users. 

A Relationship That Keeps On Giving

The CSP program isn’t just a licensing program; it’s a relationship. Your CSP is actively engaged with you, which means they understand the deployment of your Microsoft products and can help you optimize how you’re using them as well as ensuring your infrastructure is where it needs to be. Your CSP should have the ability to work seamlessly with everything from ERP (Business Central) to productivity (Microsoft 365 – Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Teams) to platform (Azure), helping you get the most out of each product and, as importantly, how the products can work together for even more benefit. 

It’s the perfect example of the whole being more valuable than the sum of its parts—and only a CSP has the ability to make that happen. One important point to remember: Not all CSPs know all the Microsoft products, so it’s important to connect with one that has that breadth of knowledge and experience. 

Scalability To Fit Your Business’s Ebbs And Flows

What if you bought a product directly from Microsoft? 

Typically, this Enterprise Agreement, or EA, model is applied only to organizations with a very large number of users (500+). This means you probably do not have a CSP; you pay up front for what you estimate you’ll be using over the course of the upcoming year and commit to a certain number of users with certain licenses for the year. With the CSP program, you are billed monthly in a pay-as-you-go model, giving you the flexibility to scale up and down with your business requirements. This doesn’t just apply to licensing; it also applies to Azure consumption.

That’s a huge benefit, especially if you’re in retail or another industry where business fluctuates significantly. Businesses in the CSP program were able to throttle back during the pandemic and easily throttle back up as business gets closer to “normal”. If you’re on an EA, you are committed to whatever you purchased at the beginning of the year. 

A Partner That Keeps Up With Licensing For You

We mentioned earlier that Microsoft is actively transitioning licensing programs to the CSP program. This is not the first nor the last change you’ll see in Microsoft’s licensing. With a CSP, you don’t have to worry about missing a change that could benefit or affect you; the CSP will stay abreast for you. Your CSP will help you stay current in a proactive way, saving you frustration, complication, and often money. 

At ArcherPoint, we watch for licensing program changes at all times, but we also include an annual review with our plans, where we sit down with you, review your activity throughout the past year and what you anticipate for the coming year and make recommendations on how to move forward based on that information.  

Let us help you navigate the MS licensing changes. We have Microsoft Certified Licensing Specialists on our Managed IT Services staff, ready to work proactively with you to help you determine what’s best for your organization. Contact ArcherPoint today to learn more. 

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