The New Microsoft Cloud Agreement

In this article, we will provide a short brief on the changes to to the Microsoft Cloud Agreement (MCA) and what it means for all Cloud Solution Provider subscriptions and licenses paid in full.

What is the MCA?

MCA is the end customer agreement for CSP.  It details all applicable use rights and governs the end customer’s use of Microsoft cloud solutions.

How often does it change?

Agreement terms are published yearly.

Does Microsoft provide it directly to my end users or is it something I need to provide?

MCA is always provided by the CSP provider, not Microsoft.

What’s new?

Downgrade rights are now available for CSP customers permitting customers the right to install previous versions.  Similar to SPLA, the use rights that are in effect when the customer orders software will apply to the customer’s use of the version of the software that is current at that time.  All future versions, the use rights that were in effect when the products are first released apply.   In addition, customers can now transfer licenses that are fully paid (perpetual licenses) to an affiliate or third-party due to merger or a divestiture.

Any gotchas?

Microsoft has the right to verify compliance.  If unlicensed use is 5% or more, the customer must reimburse Microsoft for the cost of the audit and acquire the additional licenses owed for the bargain price of 125% more than the actual price.  Similar to SPLA, they can use independent auditors and contractors to determine compliance.

Does the MCA ever expire?

No.  The existing agreement remains in effect until the termination or renewal of the customer’s subscription.

My customer accepted the prior MCA terms.  Do I need to have them sign this new one?

If the customer is not creating new subscriptions, no.  The terms of the existing MCA continue to apply.

Are there templates I can use?

Yes. Go to the Microsoft partner center for details.

Does my customer need to sign off on this?

They have to agree to it but not sign it.  Similar to the End Customer Terms and Conditions in SPLA, you must make it available to your customers.   As part of CSP, I would make it part of your overall managed services agreement.

Where can I get a copy?

You can get a copy here

Thanks for reading,

CSP Man

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to License Azure in CSP

In this article, we will explain how Azure works in the CSP program.

Azure can be sold through various channels and programs.  If your company would like to purchase Azure, you can continue to purchase through a volume licensing agreement. If you’re a hosting provider and you would like to leverage Azure as your datacenter provider, you can also purchase it through volume licensing leveraging the Microsoft Hosting Exception found in the Online Services Terms (OST).  Last, if you are a solution provider, you can resell Azure to your end customers through the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program.   Let’s highlight how this would work operationally with links to the appropriate documents you should be aware of.

Azure in CSP Direct (Tier 1)

  • The end customer is the licensee.  They are the one to sign off on the Microsoft Cloud Agreement and follow the Online Services Terms.  They would also sign your own support agreement with the customer with SLA’s and other terms.
  • The CSP provider is the reseller.  As a CSP, you will sign the Cloud Reseller Agreement.  Your responsibility is to resell the licenses to your end customer, provide the support for the consumption, and provide proper billing services.
  • CSP is the reseller in this model, each end customer would be required to have their own Azure tenant.

Azure in CSP Indirect (Tier 2)

Same rules apply as above, however the Tier 2 provider would provide the platform and support for CSP.  The managed service provider (or reseller) would be responsible for the billing and overall management of the end customer.

Azure in SPLA

If a service provider would like to run a multi-tenant hosted solution to their end customers, they could leverage SPLA for all user based applications and Azure through the volume licensing Hosted Exception found in the Online Services Terms.

Thanks for reading,

CSP Man

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