Microsoft Enterprise Agreement (EA) vs Cloud Solution Provider: Why CSP is the future of Microsoft Subscription Licensing

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Microsoft EA vs CSP

Why EA is slowing your business down and costing you more

Microsoft’s Enterprise Agreement (EA) was once the go to choice when purchasing Microsoft products and likely is the single largest IT expense in your organization. But that is all in the past. Your business and IT department have evolved, and so has the way you use Microsoft software. So why are you still using an EA? With the shift to the cloud and the rapid pace of innovation in software and new features, 3 year license contracts don’t make sense. It’s about time you rethink EA and look at Microsoft’s Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program.

Microsoft CSP licensing is the next evolution in how businesses can purchase and manage their services with Microsoft. As we move to a subscription or consumption-based business model, long-term contracts and upfront capital expenditures limit your ability to react to changing economic conditions and organizational needs. You are unable to scale usage of licenses on a monthly basis which could save your company in tight economic times. There are 3 critical challenges that legacy Enterprise Agreement licensing models place on your business:

  • Long-term contracts – EA’s require a 3 year contract for everything you purchase, limiting your flexibility to downgrade or remove items as your business circumstances change.
  • Unused solutions – Planning for 3 years at a time leads to estimating what you may need in the future. Large packaged solutions become outdated, under used or undeployed as your plans change.
  • Support concerns – Enterprise Agreements have limited support and may not meet your needs, forcing you to purchase premium support contracts upfront.

Subscription licensing with Microsoft CSP

The Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider program opens up a new world of flexibility when it comes to purchasing and managing software licensing. Instead of a 3 year commitment, as is required with Microsoft EA, Microsoft CSP is completely month-to-month. This allows you to add or remove licenses as needed, only paying for what you actually use, which can save you significantly in the short and long run. Most importantly, as CSP agreements are provided though Microsoft Partners, you also receive instant access to Microsoft Premier Support – an additional cost with Enterprise Agreements – along with a dedicated team that knows you and your business so you never have to explain your problem from the beginning every time you need support.

Microsoft developed the CSP partner program to meet the rapidly evolving needs of today’s IT environments. With ever-changing requirements, restrictive budgets, and the need for instant results, the CSP partner program is the ideal choice. Microsoft CSP provides a flexible, cloud subscription model for customers to buy Microsoft cloud solutions such as Office 365, Dynamics 365, and Azure, with complete partner support. The Microsoft CSP licensing platform is seamlessly integrated allowing for instant provisioning of new licenses, consolidated and automated billing, and insightful reporting.

Partnering with a Tier 1 Microsoft Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) for Microsoft Licensing provides:

  • A dedicated team with the knowledge and experience to truly help your business succeed
  • The peace of mind of One Partner | One Platform | One Bill
  • No upfront costs or termination fees and pay-as-you-go subscription pricing
  • Tier 1 support with priority access to escalated Microsoft Premier Support
  • Self-service license and billing management portal – add or remove new licenses or products instantly with the click of a button
  • Proactive monitoring and optimization of your products and services so you are getting the most value from what you use

Microsoft CSP EA

Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) vs. Microsoft Enterprise Agreement (EA)

Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) Enterprise Agreement (EA)
Commitment No commitment and the option to cancel at any time 3-Year Agreement, with a minimum commitment of 500 user licenses
Invoicing Monthly Annually upfront for the full year including being back-charged for users that were added
Increase User Counts Anytime Anytime
Decrease User Counts Anytime Once per year – 30 days notice. Need to maintain minimum 500 users.
Support 24×7 support from Partner with priority access to escalated Microsoft Premier Support. Dedicated Partner consultants with all details of your account and environment. Basic support from Microsoft. Additional cost for Premier Support. No dedicated team that knows your account and environment.
Detailed Billing Yes No
Product Availability All cloud subscription licenses (Dynamics 365, Office 365, Azure) All Microsoft Products

CSP vs EA – What should you choose

If you’re looking for a scalable solution that allows your business to evolve as it grows and its needs change, then working with a Tier 1 Direct Microsoft CSP Partner like 360 Visibility is your best bet. The CSP program lets you add or remove users and products instantly and you only pay for the licenses you use. An EA contract limits your flexibility to adapt to changes and typically costs more. We see many organizations making the switch to CSP from EA contracts.

Is EA right for you?

EA’s are typically used by large enterprises that can maintain over 500 user licenses at minimum, and need a fixed price for software and subscription licensing for 3 years. However, large enterprises continue to switch to CSP for its greater flexibility and cost-savings.

Is CSP right for you?

Microsoft recommends businesses coming up on their EA renewal look at CSP licensing, in addition to new businesses getting started with Microsoft subscription licenses. CSP is typically used by organizations with less than 500 users, but those greater than 500 can use it as well. Businesses that want the greatest flexibility to add or remove licenses as needed and not pay upfront for all of their services opt for CSP. This allows for predictable monthly usage bills, and shifts expenses from capital expenditures to operational expenditures.

Finding the right Microsoft CSP Partner

One of the greatest challenges an organization faces with moving to the cloud is uncertainty. Procuring, implementing and managing cloud has a degree of uncertainty that comes with change. Engaging with a CSP partner helps overcome this challenge. A Microsoft CSP, specifically a Tier 1 Direct CSP Partner – like 360 Visibility – not only gives you unprecedented levels of control deploying and fine tuning your Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, or Azure Cloud through our CSP Customer Portal, but also the added peace of mind of an experienced partner with that truly understands your business and needs and can guide you through the transition and support your ambitions.

A CSP Partner can you help you with:

  • Improved Support – 360 Visibility has onshore experts available 24 x 7 x 365 and escalated access to Microsoft’s Premier Support channel
  • Proactive Partner – Our consultant teams are here to provide you with expert guidance
  • Greater Flexibility – Our CSP Customer Portal allows you to add or remove licenses or products instantly and consolidate billing into a single automated invoice

An EA model might still be the right choice for your business, but in today’s IT environment, how you buy and consume services has changed. It’s time for a modern approach that reflects how your business operates and gives you the flexibility to adapt to changing conditions on the fly. A Tier 1 Direct CSP Partner can help you overcome operational challenges, transition to the cloud with expert advice, and optimize your IT costs.

Jason Meilleur
Jason Meilleur
As the Senior Manager of Cloud Solutions at 360 Visibility, Jason has combined his technical and business development backgrounds to expand cloud based services and the company’s infrastructure customer base. Having a long standing family history of hard working entrepreneurs, Jason has developed a strong desire for business growth.
360 Visibility