LEARN How You Can Succeed with Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) Program

MS CSP

Learn What is a Microsoft CSP?

Microsoft defines its “Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) Program” as a true cloud reseller program, with Microsoft partners shifting from principally reselling Microsoft Cloud Products and Services to managing the entire customer relationship.

Cloud computing is changing the profitability dynamics of managed-service providers, system integrators, IT distributors, and VARs globally, by transforming IT spending from capital expenditure to on-demand operating expense.

Here’s how Microsoft defines its Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) Program:

“The Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) Program enables partners to directly manage their entire Microsoft Cloud customer lifecycle. Partners in this program utilize dedicated in-product tools to directly provision, manage, and support their customer subscriptions. Partners can easily package their own tools, products, and services, and combine them into one monthly or annual customer bill.”

The CSP Partner is responsible for the customer-management lifecycle in the CSP business model. This means that the CSP Partner provides and manages an online marketplace of services from which customers can buy Microsoft Office 365 and Azure products, core partner products, and third-party products and services.

The CSP Partner must be able to bill customers directly and manage collections and customer support without Microsoft’s involvement. CSP Partners control the entire customer relationship, creating new revenue sources. The direct billing relationship provides the ability to up-sell and cross-sell services to customers. Also, partners that control the billing can bundle Microsoft services such as Office 365 with their own services and other third-party services. This gives customers the convenience and value of paying a single bill and accessing support from a single source, and it also gives partners control over margin.

Types of Microsoft CSP Partners: Direct and Indirect

There are two versions of CSP, the Direct (Tier 1) and Indirect (Tier 2) models. Partners have to choose at least one model. They can also choose both.

The difference between the Direct CSP model and the Indirect CSP model is that the Direct model requires a robust infrastructure to enable end-to-end ownership of the customer relationship. There are a lot of requirements to be met and for most partners, this isn’t feasible. The Indirect model, however, offers partners (resellers) the opportunity to work with an Indirect CSP partner who can provide the tools and resources necessary to manage their customer relationship. And for most of them, this is the best option.

Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) Program Support

Microsoft has provided a CSP API to enable its CSP Partners to integrate provisioning and ordering activities into their own systems. The API supports provisioning new customers, ordering subscriptions and add-ons, and modifying the license count. The CSP marketplace, billing and collections, and customer-relationship management remain the responsibility of the CSP Partner.

For CSP Partners that lack billing and customer support resources, many of the major indirect distributors, direct system integrators, and MSPs engage Cloud Brokerage Platform (CSB) to provide the platform to enable the required marketplaces, billing solutions, and customer support operations so that they can act on Indirect Partners’ behalf in the background.

Keys to Success for CSP Partners

As the CSP Partners control the entire cloud-services lifecycle for their customers, the key success parameters are different from those of a traditional license-model sale. Based on our interactions with CSP Partners, Microsoft representatives, and CIOs globally, we have identified the following key requirements for a partner to maximize success in the Microsoft CSP Program:

  • Faster go-to-market: Accelerate the cloud marketplace rollout from months to days so you can test the market, assess your GTM strategy, and then proceed with a large-scale rollout.
  • Bundle and differentiate: Bundle CSP services with your intellectual property and services, third-party cloud, or IT services to provide customers with a comprehensive solution rather than a licensing model.
  • Modernize sales and marketing for the cloud business: Fine-tune your sales and marketing teams to build your digital brand across social media, industry forums, etc., and emerge as a thought leader in the cloud business.
  • Become a trusted advisor: Deploy the operational framework so that you can be the single point of contact for your solution, including Microsoft CSP services, your intellectual property and services, and third-party services, including industry-specific services.
  • Guiding the customer: The first 45-60 days of support is critical in most cases for annuity-related customers, driving greater lifetime customer value.

Learn How You Can Succeed with Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) Program

Microsoft CSP Program

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