Defining your Success: The New Normal for Microsoft 365 Licensing

January 22, 2018
Charlie Weber


Charlie Weber

Technical Services: Cloud Solutions Strategist at SoftwareONE University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Linkedin

Microsoft is constantly evolving, and being a data-driven company, it is  always looking to transform the software industry as trends and customer needs dictate.

There are some licensing models that have survived over time (such as Enterprise Agreements and the transaction-based Open Licensing agreement), and there are other offerings that have changed over the years. However,  the champion program of 2018 is the  focus on a partnership between Microsoft and Cloud Solution Providers, or CSPs.

What is CSP?

The Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) is a program that allows solution providers to control how to license and support certain Microsoft licensing offerings. Microsoft 365, Dynamics365, and Azure are three of the most popular offerings to fall under this program.

The CSP program is a vehicle which solution providers can use to travel beyond simply reselling licensing, and begin to provide value – as well as become more involved — in their customer’s business.

What are the benefits of licensing through the CSP model?  


In today’s IT landscape, gone are the days where businesses are tethered to a three-year licensing agreement. Ultimately, there has been a shift in the way that businesses operate. In the new world of entrepreneurship, start-ups, and remote satellite offices being agile is  a must.

Businesses now have the flexibility to throttle up or cut back on certain cloud-based applications – 365 for example – based on the demand of a project, the allocation of additional resources, and even adding contractors or outside contributors to the  organization.

When was your last login?  Do you really need a full 365 license?  What is your strategy to define your users’ profiles, but also do you have the factual data to reinforce and solidify your decision on user profiles?  How do you charge-back for usage – do you have the data needed to create an appropriate and data driven charge-back model? These are all questions that your CSP provider can help you define.


Under the CSP program, Microsoft puts its faith in the solution providers to manage support. While the support itself is managed by the provider, there are guidelines that must be met in order for the provider to become entrusted with this responsibility.

The service provider is the first point of contact for support requests. How the support is managed is dependent upon the provider’s offerings. Some providers may offer levels of support depending on organizational structure while others may opt for a flat-rate support system.

How does SoftwareONE define support? Here is our threefold approach:

  • Classic support – technical and administrative support focused on your planned and unplanned service and incident requests as they arise.
  • Consultative and advisory support – use our expertise to help plan and research the solution.  Have questions and need guidance?  We consult on your pointed questions to offer guidance.
  • Analytics of usage above and beyond visibility offered by Microsoft. Be in control of your data and have the framework to maximize your ROI.

Customers need to be sure that they are getting the most value from their provider, or this will fall into the pile of forgotten tools weighing down a balance sheet.

Additional Resources

Historically in licensing Microsoft products, organizations purchased licensing through a reseller, and then hired a third-party to manage migrations and installations ­­– if they didn’t have the resources internally to manage these types of projects.

However, in the ever evolving IT world, solution providers are able to assist with managed services that help to make the process for the customer seamless. If you already have a relationship with a provider, your provider has insight into how your organization is structured and is able to offer intuitive insight regarding project implementation, support resources, and product recommendations so that you are able to maintain business as usual.

Do you need proactive analysis and recommendations for spend optimization?  Maybe you are just beginning your 365 adoption, or you are planning for the next workload in the cloud. No matter the scenario you need to be sure your CSP provider offers both the reactive Cloud Support service and the inclusion of dedicated resources to help you optimize your 365 usage.   It’s important to get recommendations from an impartial third party on your product selection, usage, health, and future road maps.

Do you have to move to all of your workloads to a CSP at once?

The short answer is no. That’s the beauty of the CSP program. If your organization wants to move some or all or your workloads over, you can. If you are not committed  to  a total cloud implementation within your organization, you can maintain a hybrid cloud environment and maintain some of your licensing on-premises.

Want to know more?

Every customer has specific definitions and criteria for success – let SoftwareONE help your organization both define and achieve your success. If you would like to know more about our Cloud Support offerings and how you can realize value in your environment, join us as we take a deep dive into Microsoft 365 licensing and the CSP program here.

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