Multi-Channel Partnerships…Good idea?

CSP by its nature is designed to provide different licensing and support options for the channel.  In this post, I want to highlight a couple of those options and how you can partner with other CSP providers to satisfy your end customer.

According to the Microsoft Cloud Solution Program Guide, the CSP direct partner must invoice the licenses directly to the end-user.  That’s fine in many instances, but what happens if you have customers globally, but only authorized in the USA?   In other words, if you are authorized in US, but have a customer in Australia, how can you resell CSP to that end user?   In walks our friend ‘Multi-Channel”.

Option 1: The end customer in Australia could set up shop in the US and use an US address to receive licenses leveraging your CSP USA authorization .  The problem with this (especially in Australia) is latency issues and billing.  The address on the invoice is where the datacenter location will be but the users will still be in Australia.

Option 2:   The CSP authorized reseller in the USA could partner with a CSP reseller in Australia to procure the licenses.  In this model, the USA CSP partner would provide all the support for their Australian customer, but another partner would provide the licenses.

I like option two the best.  Most MSP’s and other solution providers do not make money from the licensing, they make money from supporting the solution.   Leveraging another partner will take care of the customer and both parties will be happy.  What do you think?  Is Multi-Channel a good idea?

Thanks for reading,

CSP Man

 

 

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

Office 365 Licensing Scenarios Part 1

 

This is a new series on csplicensing.com called “Office 365 Scenarios.”  The goal is to provide the reader with a licensing scenario for a typical Microsoft enterprise customer.  Enjoy!

 Scenario 1

 M & A Corporation is a large private equity firm with 500 employees worldwide.  They currently have the Enterprise CAL suite under an Enterprise Agreement.  They have one datacenter for mostly Exchange and SharePoint.

Current Needs

  1. Free up IT resources to focus on other projects besides managing a datacenter
  2. Identify a cloud partner to outsource their server environment.
  3. Senior executives need to have both On Premise and cloud solution for the same device.
  4. Find a collaboration tool to enhance communication between departments.
  5. Identify a solution for compliance and legal hold and email retention.
  6. Needed the solution yesterday and do not have time to wait for their agreement to expire.

Solutions

  • Issue 1&2 – Free up IT resources/Cloud Partner – The best way for M&A to free up IT resources without jeopardizing performance is to outsource their server environment to a third party.  Office 365 plan E3 provides SharePoint, Exchange, Office Pro Plus, and Skype for Business.
  • Issue 3On-Premise and cloud deployment for the same user- Office 365 has dual access rights.  This means that if an end user who has a USL (user subscription license) has the equivalent of an on premise CAL.  It does not include the server license.  If M&A wants to continue to run on premise workloads using the dual access right, they must own the server license.  Secondly, if they want decide not to use Microsoft datacenters for Office 365, they can use their Office 365 User SLs (as covered above) to access their servers deployed on third party shared servers/datacenters via License Mobility through Software Assurance.  Again, they would need the server license with SA.
  • Issue 4Collaboration tool – Transitioning to Office 365 E3 will give them access to Skype for Business Plan 2.
  • Issue 5Compliance and Legal Hold – Office 365 E3 will give them Exchange Online 2 which includes Legal Hold; archives email for more than 10 years.
  • Issue 6Agreement doesn’t expire. Since they have the ECAL, they can use the bridge CALs to transition from on premise to cloud for workloads not offered through Office 365 (Windows/SQL).

Thanks for reading,

CSP Man

Disclaimer

The purpose of this article is for informational purposes only.  The names are fictional and created by the author’s imagination.  Any name or resemblance is pure coincidental.

Enterprise Mobility and Security (EMS)

With the big push to the cloud, the Enterprise Mobility and Security offering emphasizes Microsoft’s mobile first, cloud first strategy.  EMS focuses on three areas:

  • Hybrid and Cloud Identity – Enabled through Azure Active Directory Premium
  • Mobile Device Management -Microsoft Intune.
  • Data Protection and Security – Azure Information Protection/ MS Advance Threat Analytics.

In this article, we will review each of these offerings and how it can help your business.

Azure AD Premium

Is a single sign-on or connection that links a user to multiple applications and multiple cloud solutions including social media accounts and other SaaS applications.  Almost all organizations have different applications users access; personal and business from the same device.  Azure AD also includes a full suite of identity management capabilities including multi-factor authentication (identifies the user) , self-service password management (retrieve password) , self-service group management and security monitoring and alerting (identify threats).

Intune

One of the number one questions asked around the BYOD concept is “what happens if my employee leaves”  One of the features of Intune is Selective Wipe, which allows IT staff to wipe corporate data remotely from that device via self-service company portal or admin console, but not touch the individuals personal applications (Facebook as an example).

In addition to mobile device management, it also helps IT administrators with the ability to push company apps automatically and allow users to easily install corporate apps from the self-service company portal.

One other feature of Intune is email.  If a company wants to protect an attachment through Intune security, IT administrators can set protection parameters on that attachment that will prevent the user from copying and pasting into another application.  Let’s say you have a company spreadsheet with private financial information.  In order to prevent  the user of just copying that application into another spreadsheet or word docs, the IT admin can use Intune to prevent unauthorized distribution.

Azure Information Protection (Azure Rights Management)

Using the email example above, Azure Info Protection allows an IT admin to set permissions of who can receive not receive the email.  As an example, let’s say you send an email to a vendor with personal information, using Azure Info Protection, the sender can set a no-forward policy or even an email expiration in which the email will auto delete so no unauthorized users can access that email.

Microsoft Advance Threat Analytics 

MS Advance Threat Analytics is a preventative security measure to protect the user from unauthorized use of personal information.  A credit card is a good example.  Using behavioral analytics, Advance Threat Analytics (ATN) will notice unusual activity on a customer’s account.

How to buy

You can purchase the EMS offering through various channels and programs.  Similar to most program, buying EMS as a package is more cost competitive than buying as individual components.

Volume Licensing:  When customers who purchased Windows Server CAL, Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager, System Center Endpoint Protection and Microsoft Active Directory Rights Management Services CALs via the Microsoft Enterprise Volume Licensing agreements they will have the ability purchase the Enterprise Mobility + Security Add-on.  This is much cheaper than buying the full user license since you already made the investment in certain technologies.

CSP: When working with a CSP partner, you can either resell or consume EMS for your own internal use.  When using CSP, you either provide the support (as a CSP Direct/Tier 1 provider) or work with a distributor (CSP Indirect/Tier 2) to sell to your end customers as a managed service provider.  The cost varies depending on number of users and the support offering.

I hope this provides some insight into EMS.  More articles on this coming soon!

Thanks for reading,

CSP Man

 

 

 

 

 

Why Sell Cloud Products under CSP?

There are a number of licensing programs to choose from so what makes CSP so special?  I would argue that although this site is csplicensing.com, CSP is not necessarily a licensing program but a solution program.   The main reason as to why its different is support.    There are numerous reasons why CSP, the list below are ideas you should thing about both for the end customers as well as the managed service provider who is building a CSP practice.

Monthly Billing – lower upfront costs.

Scale user adoption – You can scale easier.  Many organizations lose ROI on large upfront volume licensing agreements.

Support Included – Every one talks about moving to the cloud, very few actually tell you how.  CSP helps you migrate to the cloud quicker, by leveraging your CSP support partner (which is required to be a CSP authorized provider)

Reliable –  Most CSP partners have a platform to manage licenses, adoption, and customers through one portal.

Discounts – CSP is competitive.  This is good for the end user to shop around.  Many providers offer free migration or discounts for partnering.

If you are thinking of signing up to be a CSP partner, there are important things to consider as well.  Again, its not just about the licensing, it’s about controlling the end-end customer experience from support escalations to migration.  You are the first point of contact, resolve issues, and billing platform.

A great resource for CSP partners https://partner.microsoft.com/en-us/cloud-solution-provider/resources

Thanks for reading,

CSP Man

What’s old news for some is new for others.

We wrote about some of these changes in an earlier post.  In this article, we will review the licensing in’s and out’s in greater detail.

What is it?

Windows 10 Enterprise E3 in CSP is a per-user subscription marketed primarily to small and medium sized businesses.

How is it licensed?

It is a per user subscription model.  Licensed users may install Windows 10 Enterprise on up to 5 devices.

Is it availalbe in SPLA?

Windows 10 Enterprise is not available in SPLA.  CSP and SPLA are two separate programs.

What are the requirements?

New and renewed CSP customers will need to accept the Microsoft Cloud Agreement (MCA)  to use Windows 10 Enterprise. The updated Product Terms use rights for Windows 10 Enterprise in CSP, which were published in the September 2016 Volume Licensing Product Terms review this change.  Click here to see the latest update.

Can I virtualize?

Windows 10 Enterprise does not include virtualization rights nor full Software Assurance Benefits (although some benefits are included as part of the subscription, it is not technically SA).

What are some other licensing benefits or things to watch out for?

  •  Downgrade to Windows 10 Pro at any time. When a user’s subscription expires or is transferred to another user, the Windows 10 Enterprise device reverts seamlessly to Windows 10 Pro edition (after a grace period of up to 90 days).
  • Move licenses between users. Licenses can be reallocated from one user to another user.
  • Customers subscribed to Windows 10 Enterprise E3 and E5 can now upgrade their Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 PCs and devices to Windows 10 without the need to purchase separate upgrade licenses. Check out the blog post by Microsoft here
  • Customer that were subscribed to the Secure Productive Enterprise E3 and E5 can also upgrade their Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 PC’s to Windows 10.  Secure Productive Enterprise is the new name for the Enterprise Cloud Suite (ECS).  It bundles Windows 10 Enterprise E3 and E5 with corresponding versions of Office 365 (E3 and E5) and the Enterprise Mobility + Security solution (EMS).

Thanks for reading,

CSP Man

Office 365 Licensing

In order to understand a licensing program, it’s best to start at the beginning and go from there. Office 365 comes with various plans and product lines that can get a bit confusing to the average consumer.  In this post we will review Office 365 and Azure and the various programs to purchase them under.

Just purchased volume licensing and want to move to Office 365?  There’s a plan for that.  Need to buy the full license?  No problem.  Have Software Assurance (SA) and need to move to a User Subscription License (USL)?  Got it covered.  Here are 5 scenarios to help understand how to the licensing works.

Step-up-USL

John purchased an Office 365 E3 but really screwed up;  he really needed E5.  He’s midway through his agreement.  What does he need to do?  As long as he purchases the licenses under the same agreement, he can acquire a “Step-up USL” license at a cheaper rate than if he were to wait until his agreement ends and purchase E5 without the step-up discount.  Step-up USL is just a way to upgrade services during the term of the agreement. That’s a key fact to remember.  Step-ups expire when the step-up USL expires or the base USL expires (whichever expires earlier).

Add -on – USL

Bill is a bit of a nervous Nellie.  He has an on-premise volume licensing agreement but wants to try Office 365.  An Add-on-USL gives Bill the ability to migrate to Office 365 at a fraction of the cost.  This also must be purchased on the same agreement as the qualifying licenses.  In summary, it’s just a license that is purchased in addition to a previous acquired license at a fraction of the cost.

From SA USL

Mary is tired of managing licenses on premise.  She has an Enterprise Agreement (EA) and owns the Core CAL Suite.  She wants to move to the cloud, but wants to do it in the most cost-effective way possible.  Since she already purchased licenses with SA (a mandatory requirement when buying an EA), Microsoft recognizes (That’s nice of them) the investment they made with SA, and offers a discount to move to the cloud.  That discount is called “From SA USL”  Like everything else, you guessed it…it must all be purchased under the same agreement as they originally purchased under.

Full Blown License

Barbara hates Microsoft. For the past 10 years she has installed nothing but open software.  Her boss is tired of the incompatibility that comes with open source software and has recently told Barbara to either go to the Microsoft cloud or go home.  She decided to go Microsoft.  Since Barbara does not already own a Microsoft agreement (or any licenses for that matter) she must buy the Full USL license.  The Full USL is also applicable for those customers that let their agreement expire without migrating to the cloud prior.  Remember in the previous examples, all step-up, add-ons, and from SA must be purchased under the same agreement.

SAL for SA

This last example is not for everybody and is probably meant for a 500 level Office 365 licensing conversation.  That being said, I think it’s important to at least bring up.

Let’s say John bought Skype for Business USL license and for whatever reason his boss is hesitant about using Microsoft data centers.  Maybe it’s for disaster recovery or maybe there are compliance concerns (or maybe Barbara from the previous example went to work at John’s company 🙂 but regardless the reason, they do not want to use Microsoft.  How can they leverage their USL licenses but use another data center provider? It’s called SAL for SA.  The new data center provider can license through their Microsoft agreement a SAL (Subscriber Access License) that will allow John to leverage their existing USL license and pay a fraction of the cost.

There you have it.  Office 365 licensing 101.  The next post we will review the different products and plans to help you identify the right plan for you.

Thanks for reading,

CSP Man

 

 

 

Want Azure pay as you go? Forget about MPSA.

Last week at Microsoft conference, the new buzz was “Digital Transformation”  Essentially adapting to the way in which consumers and enterprises consume technology.  In January, 2017, the pay-as-you-go you once loved is removed from the Microsoft Products and Services Agreement.  I see this move as primarily positive, but for company’s that built out a service around MPSA and Azure as a challenge.   Change is not always bad, but an overnight program change is not always the best way to do it.

Existing customers currently purchasing Azure on a pay-as-you-go basis through the MPSA will see no change.  New customers will be opted for the CSP.  Good news if you are a CSP provider.

As mentioned in a previous post, way back when consumers signed up for BPOS but didn’t use it.  By moving customers to CSP, it encourages users to adapt and migrate to Azure.  This is no longer a licensing game, it’s  a platform/solution/service offering game. Get ready CSP, more products are sure to launch!

Thanks for reading,

CSP Man

 

 

Why “MSP” is the new “Cloud”

I think the acronym, “MSP” is the new “Cloud”. From the beginning of the century and carrying on through today, the term “cloud” was thrown around faster than a Nolan Ryan fastball (horrible).   “You have to get in the cloud!  “Hybrid Cloud!” “We need more Cloud!”

Why is “MSP” the new cloud?  For one, everyone wants to be a managed service provider.  If you really want to upset a reseller, call them a reseller. What is a managed service provider according to Microsoft?  I am not sure it is clearly defined, but I’ll give it my best shot.  A managed service provider is an organization that performs three primary functions as it relates to helping end users migrate workloads from an on premise solution to another data center provider (cloud).  The three functions are:

  1. Cloud Assessments – help end users determine how ready they are to offload workloads and determine which workloads they can even migrate.  This includes ROI analysis, training, and perhaps even SAM.  (Software Asset Management)
  2. Cloud Enablement – perform Proof of Concepts (POC), System Integration, and compliance.
  3. Cloud Operations –  Network monitoring, bandwidth, backup, security, and assist with troubleshooting.

This is exactly what Microsoft is looking for in a CSP partner.  MSP’s bridge the gap between the end-user and the data center provider (either Azure, Office 365, AWS, or some other 3rd party hosting partner).  One unspoken function of a MSP is not just migrating customers to the cloud, but moving them back from the cloud.  You can argue that the three functions mentioned can help customers migrate from the cloud back to on premise.  Just replace “cloud” with “on premise”and you get the picture.

Another trend is how the cloud partner ecosystem has also evolved to include the MSP.  MSP’s are partnering with other MSP’s to provide a fluid customer experience; it’s the same with CSP.  A service provider, who perhaps has the customer relationship, can partner with a CSP Tier 2 partner to perform those three functions on their behalf.  To Microsoft, they don’t care how a customer migrates, just that they migrate and have the support to help them manage it.

I remember when BPOS (the old Office 365) was first launched.  The Microsoft account teams had a huge quota to have customers sign up for BPOS.  It didn’t matter if they actually consumed it, as long as they signed up for it.  Microsoft had thousands of end users sign up for BPOS, but very few actually deployed it. (very few knew they even signed up for it).  Microsoft learned a lesson from that initial project – it doesn’t matter who signed up, it’s who’s consuming it that matters.  In walks are friend Mr. MSP.

The days of being a transactional reseller are over, if you are not in the MSP game, find someone who is…and fast!

Microsoft Teams

When Microsoft Teams were first announced in November 2016, the first thing that came to mind was here’s another application, another “tool” to make life easier;  why not just use Skype, SharePoint, and Yammer?   In a way, that’s true.  Why not use the tools already in place?  I think what Microsoft Teams accomplishes is what those other three applications does separately.  I like to think of Microsoft Teams as a real-time forum to chat, review content, and even participate in voice and video conferences with the integration of Skype.

For a full review and demo of the product check out the Office 365 blog   It will be interesting to see how this will play with Project Online and other management tools.

At this time, only business subscribers in plans such as “Business Essentials, Business Premium, and Enterprise E1, E3, and E5” have access to Microsoft Teams.  E4 subscribers who bought that plan before its retirement also will get access.

Thanks for reading,

CSP Man