CSP Rules for International Billing

Disclosure – There are always updates and revisions to every licensing program.  This blog is for educational purposes and will update accordingly. 

CSP is one of the few programs (outside of SPLA) in which end customers have access to Microsoft technologies but really don’t know how they are licensed.  In the end, that’s one of the values of outsourcing your IT management to a CSP provider.  If a CSP provider is doing their job, the end customer shouldn’t know that they are buying CSP.  All they should know is they are buying a managed service.  The rest is on you, the CSP provider, and with every other Microsoft program, there are rules you must follow to maintain compliance and make CSP as seamless as possible.  In this article, we will look at how billing works internationally.

The first thing to remember is you can only sell to customers in your region/market.  The good news?  There are several countries per region.  In other words, if you (as a CSP partner) have an account in a country, you could use the account for every country in that region.  As an example, if you have an office in the UK, you can transact with a customer in Italy because by Microsoft’s definition, Italy and UK are in the same region.  What happens if you are not authorized in your customer’s region?

Let’s provide an example.  Manage IT Services is CSP indirect authorized provider in the US.  They have an end customer who wants to switch from their current provider in Australia.  The existing domain is attached to the customer’s local physical address in Australia.  How can the Manage IT Services support this customer?

They have three options:

  1. If they are CSP authorized in Australia, they can manage it from their Australia office.  CSP is regionally authorized, so a transaction via the partner portal (in country) would be required.  The customer’s invoice location listed on the AU tenant would also mean the CSP partner would also have to be listed as a CSP provider in region.
  2. If they are not CSP authorized in Australia, they can partner with another CSP partner in AU.  The CSP partner would provide the licenses, Manage IT Services would provide the support.   This is not a very viable solution for several reasons (explanation further in this article).
  3. Have the end customer use a physical US address (if they have one).   CSP is a monthly contract, so they could discontinue the AU tenant and start a new one in the new location.  They would have to prove to Microsoft they in fact do have a US location.  The problem remains that they are in Australia.  There would be concerns over latency issues and support due to challenging time differences.

To sell into different markets outside of your own, your organization must create multiple accounts.  Like other Microsoft programs, they require a physical address.  In the case of CSP, the physical address must be attached to each domain.  In the example above, the end customer has a domain tied to their AU location, making it very challenging for the US provider to transact CSP.   If you are a service provider who operates globally, you might want to consider becoming CSP authorized in other regions.

I mentioned earlier that a CSP provider in the US can partner with another CSP partner in Australia to manage the licenses.  There would be a two-step process for resolution support.  The local partner in Australia would have to be listed as an additional delegated admin on the end customers tenant to be able to escalate to Microsoft for support.  The bigger issue is latency and time challenges.  To add another layer to this complex solution, the customer would receive multiple bills (CSP and you the MSP).  Sounds fun, doesn’t it?

Thanks for reading,

CSP Man

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