Updated: On 19th August 2021 Microsoft announced some changes to its Microsoft 365 licensing plans. As well as a price rise of between 10% and 20% per user per year, the ability to scale down your licence pool via your CSP will no longer be available. Instead your subscription term (monthly, annual or, soon, 3 year terms) will be enforced.
Why purchase your Microsoft 365 licensing, or Azure plans, via a Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) when you can buy direct from Microsoft?
There are many benefits of using a CSP, here are our top 5:
1: Licensing optimisation
Choosing the right Microsoft 365 licensing plans for your organisation is not as straight forward as you might think. With Microsoft now rigorously enforcing its subscription terms, with only a 72 hour cooling off period after buying, it’s even more important to ensure you’re on the right plan/s.
A CSP / Microsoft Partner knows 365 licensing inside out, and has the experience of working with many other organisations who may have similar requirements to yours. We help you can identify the most cost licensing SKU, which may often be a combination of different plans to give you the right licensing levels. We also advise you on the most advantageous subscription term for your plans. For example, if your organisation has seasonal spikes or needs additional licences just a few months at a time, a monthly subscription term for some licenses will give you the flexibility you require. Whereas an annual term may be appropriate for your core team, with the associated cost savings of a longer fixed term.
2: Flexible billing
No credit cards needed! A CSP will bill you for your cloud consumption – 365 licences and Azure consumption – on a monthly or annual basis, depending on your requirements. CSP agreements are also more flexible than a Microsoft EA or Open Licence, with shorter contract terms, lower (or no) penalties for adjustments, and no upfront licensing costs.
3: Cost savings
Going the CSP route unlocks opportunities to gain discounts on the RRP. A big win against paying direct. Potential discounts from RRP are dependent on your licensing requirements and may be greater if you are also procuring wraparound services from the CSP.
A Microsoft 365 Licensing Health Check can also uncover further cost savings. You might find that you’re not using all the services covered by your plan and could potential switch to a different plan or initiate a user adoption programme so you do get the benefits of your cloud services. We often see organisations with an EA who can get all the services they need and use from a Microsoft 365 Business plan, at a much lower cost to the business.
4: Licensing expertise
With one partner looking after all your Microsoft 365 licences, you can draw on our expertise and skills to maximise the benefits of your technology investment. Tell us what your IT strategy is, and we will ensure your licensing is aligned to your goals. Our Microsoft licensing management service continuously monitors your licensing usage, managing your licence pool and making sure you’re not over-provisioned or under-utilising your resources.
5. IT support
If you have an EA, your organisation has to provide 1st line IT support and then purchase support directly from Microsoft for escalation. With a CSP we become your 1st and 2nd line point of contact for the service, and already have a built-in escalation agreement to Microsoft for additional support, at no cost to your organisation. With a marketing-leading IT service desk, the support your users receive is best in class.
Your CSP partner is also the point of contact for billing and subscription support and may also offer other services like Service Integration & Management, which will help you get the most from all the services you’re paying for.
Common questions about Microsoft Cloud Solutions Providers
Will I still maintain Admin Control?
Yes. You can still have full admin control over your Office 365 tenancy and Azure subscriptions.
Can I migrate existing Azure Services to CSP Azure?
Yes. We will first need to undertake a review of your environment to understand if there are areas that will not easily move e.g. Backup Vaults and Express Route. We then schedule some engineering time to move you to the new subscription. We aim to achieve this without loss of service. We would obviously discuss options for items that are not so easily moved between Azure subscriptions.
Who will invoice me?
Yes. We will invoice you monthly (unless you require annual billing). We get invoiced indirectly from Microsoft on a monthly basis for all the CSP spend attributable to our customers. We just take this data and generate an invoice for your specific spend.
Do I need to sign any agreements?
Yes. You will need to agree to the Microsoft Cloud Agreement.
Can I license my on premises licenses via CSP?
Yes. SQL Server, Windows Enterprise and User CALs are available through CSP. This gives the customer the ability to utilise Hybrid Use Benefit to run services on premises or in the cloud
Can I change CSP provider?
Yes. You are free to transfer to any other provider of your choice, but we hope our people-centric approach and focus on your user experience, alongside other services we deliver, are good reasons to stay.
Can I leave CSP?
Yes. If you have a monthly subscription term you can enter in any month of the calendar year and stop at any time. Remember, a CSP gives you the flexibility to alter your subscription, in numbers and services, per month.
Will access to my tenancy or subscription be terminated if I do not pay my bill?
Ultimately yes. But clearly we all want to avoid this situation. We follow normal processes to retrieve the money for services provided, but we are within our rights to terminate if your invoices are not being paid in a timely manner.
As a Microsoft Gold Partner we can provide licensing and management for Microsoft 365 and Azure services. We also have specialist expertise in planning, migrating, monitoring, and managing on-premises, private, and multiple cloud provider environments. Speak to our team if you would like to learn more, or book a Microsoft 365 Licensing Health Check to find out whether we can save you money on your current licensing.